The Monument is a land of extremes—heat and cold, water and desert, ancient and modern. While not an unduly dangerous landscape, caution needs to be taken when venturing out into it. There are few visitor facilities at present, and the visitor should plan on self-sufficiency. It's dry; bring plenty of water. River winds can capsize small craft; wear lifejackets. Some areas are remote; let someone know your destination and when you'll be back. Cell coverage is generally pretty good, due the flat landscape, but that shouldn't be your emergency plan. While rare and very shy, there are Pacific rattlesnakes, so don't reach into areas without first checking. The only real wildlife threats would be allergic reactions to insect or spider bites (e.g., black widow spiders).
Visitors should be prepared for minimal signing and primitive facilities. A visitor brochure is available; just drop us a note with your name and address.
Warnings aside, the Monument is a fairly safe and pleasant environment. Obey signs and follow common sense, and you'll enjoy your visit to this uniqueand wildlife refuge.
There are no formal trails on the Monument. A few social trails exist, the main one starting at the White Bluffs Boat Launch and following the old wagon train route that supplied the Okanogan gold rush. This path heads out to sand dunes perched atop the White Bluffs. Although there are no trails recognized by the Fish & Wildlife Service, the Washington Trails Association describes several hiking opportunities. Be forewarned that these "trails" are not clearly defined. For descriptions of these trails, visit the Washington Trails Association web site and search for "Hanford Reach National Monument."
Other Facilities in the Complex
The four refuges that make up the Central Washington National Wildlife Refuge Complex have little in common, other than being in the state of Washington. That makes the Complex a wonderfully diverse blend of habitats, species, and recreational opportunities. There’s something to be found by everyone that will pique their interest or pull them into the landscape. A geology buff? Visit Columbia National Wildlife Refuge, carved by the great floods of the last ice age. Need a scenic landscape to paint or simply unwind in? Conboy Lake is the spot. Interested in our history? The Hanford Reach National Monument is the place to investigate. Want to add to your birding life list? Check the spring and fall migrations through Toppenish.
Columbia National Wildlife Refuge
Columbia National Wildlife Refuge is a scenic mixture of rugged cliffs, canyons, lakes, grasslands, and sagebrush. The mix of lakes, carved by unimaginable floods during the last ice age, and surrounding irrigated croplands, a result Grand Coulee Dam and the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project, combined with generally mild winters and the protection provided by the refuge, attracts large numbers of migrating and wintering mallards, Canada geese, tundra swans, and other waterfowl. As winter turns to spring and frozen lakes begin to thaw, additional waterfowl return in great numbers. The largest concentrations of ducks, geese, and lesser Sandhill cranes arrive on the refuge in March and April, at times numbering over 75,000 individuals. The arrival of the cranes and other waterfowl draw visitors from all over the region, centering around the annual Othello Sandhill Crane Festival.
Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Nestled near the foot of snow-capped Mount Adams in Washington’s Cascade Range, Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge is a scenic gem within the National Wildlife Refuge System. The refuge encompasses 6,574 acres of lush seasonal marshes and vibrant forested uplands that beckon to both visitors and wildlife. A blend of wetlands; grassy prairies; streams; and oak, pine, and aspen forests supports a diverse wildlife community. The rich habitat sustains thriving populations of migrating waterfowl and songbirds. The rare Oregon spotted frog breeds in wetlands throughout the refuge. Elk are plentiful and frequently seen along refuge roads. Conboy Lake also supports most of the breeding population of greater Sandhill cranes in Washington. As a, this living system will satisfy your longing for splendor and serenity, just as it did for the indigenous peoples, explorers, loggers, and ranchers who were first drawn to the valley’s plentiful resources.
Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge
Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1964, is an important link in the chain of feeding and resting areas for waterfowl and other migratory birds using the Pacific Flyway. Although Toppenish was established primarily for migratory waterfowl, many other migratory and resident wildlife species live here, such as American bitterns, peregrine falcons, badgers and beavers. The refuge is a broad collection of habitats supporting a diversity of species. Natural wetlands, such as sloughs and oxbows, and artificial wetlands are flanked byareas. Many species of migratory waterfowl and nongame birds, such as Virginia rails and savannah sparrows, use the wetlands for feeding and nesting activities. Native shrub-steppe—characterized by greasewood, Wyoming big sage, rabbitbrushes, bitterbrush, and native bunchgrasses, such as Great Basin wildrye, Indian ricegrass, Idaho fescue, and Sandberg bluegrass—once covered the upland areas. Loggerhead shrikes, long-billed curlews, California quail, Brewer’s and sage sparrows, and sage thrashers are only some of the animals that use the shrub-steppe. This diverse combination of habitats is a natural magnet to migratory and resident wildlife, alike.
Rules and Policies
We want to you come and enjoy the Monument, but we do have some rules—rules designed to protect wildlife, the fragile habitats, cultural resources, and other visitor's experiences.
- General access is sunrise to sunset.
- Access to the White Bluffs Boat Launch is from 2 hours before sunrise to 2 hours after sunset.
- There is no camping, overnight parking, or any other night time use allowed, with the exception of early/late access for hunting.
- Hunting access is from 1-1/2 hours before legal hunting time to 1-1/2 hours after legal hunting time.
- Bicycles, including mountain bikes, are considered vehicles by federal statute and follow the same posted restrictions.
- Off-road use is strictly prohibited; bicycles are not allowed on trails or to travel cross-country.
- Bicycles are allowed on the paved road between the locked gates at Ringold and the White Bluffs Overlook.
- Bicycles are also allowed to travel from the parking lot for the WB-10 Ponds to the ponds on the existing road only.
- All collecting is prohibited, including antlers, bones, rocks, artifacts and plant life.
- Disturbing plant life and all digging are prohibited.
- Only virtual geocaching is allowed.
Dogs & Pets:
- Dogs and horses are the only animals allowed on the Monument (excluding assistance animals).
- Dogs must be leashed at all times, with the exception of hunting dogs within season.
- Horses are limited to parking lots and roads open to the public.
- No dog training is allowed.
- Per Department of Energy regulations, only those firearms used for that particular hunting season are allowed. During hunting season, those that are allowed must be cased and/or dismantled when not in use.
- Handguns, modern rifles, airguns (e.g., BB and pellet guns), etc., are not allowed anywhere on the Monument at any time.
- No target practice, skeet shooting, or sighting in of firearms is allowed.
- Open fires (camping or cooking) are not permitted on the Monument at any time.
- Please consult the Washington State fishing pamphlet for limits, seasons, and other information.
- Fishing is allowed only on the River, Ringold, and Wahluke (East) Units.
- Hiking is allowed on all roads in open areas of the Monument.
- Hiking cross-country is allowed only on the Wahluke and Ringold Units.
- Horseback riding is allowed only on roads within areas open to public access (Ringold, Saddle Mountain, Wahluke East Units).
- Waterfowl (duck, goose and coot), dove, snipe, deer, elk, and upland gamebird hunting are permitted on the refuge during the regular Washington hunting seasons in specific public hunting areas designated on the refuge map.
- Please consult the Washington State pamphlet for bag limits and general information.
- The digging of waterfowl hunting pits, and the collecting/cutting of vegetation for camouflaging of waterfowl hunting pits, is prohibited.
- Non-toxic shot is required for ALL bird hunting (upland and waterfowl) on the Monument.
- No trapping of any kind is allowed on the Hanford Reach National Monument.
- For the current regulations related to hunting on the Hanford Reach National Monument, please visit www.fws.gov/mcriver/regulations/.
- The federally owned islands are closed to public access above the ordinary high water mark.
- None of the Monument islands are open to big game hunting. Waterfowl hunting is only allowed below the ordinary high water mark and only those islands downstream of the wooden powerline crossing north of the Ringold area.
- Motorized vehicles are allowed only on roads open to public travel.
- Hang-gliding and paragliding are prohibited, as are remote-controlled model airplanes.
Unmanned Aircraft & Drones:
- The use of unmanned aircraft or drones on the refuge is prohibited.