Auto Tour Route

Auto Tour - Lyn Topinka_512x219

Whether you are a photographer, a "birder" or someone who just enjoys watching and being in nature, this one-size-fits-all experience will surely give you a taste of the Refuge.  This four mile loop gives visitors of all physical abilities the chance to see many habitats and wildlife up close in any season as you use your vehicle as a viewing blind.

  • Seasons & Rules

    Closing times for the automated gate system are posted on the gates at the refuge entrance and on the Refuge Status Page. Please allow sufficient time to safely drive the Auto Tour Route and exit the unit before the gate closes. Should you be locked in behind the gate, you may call the Ridgefield Police Department at 887-3556 or dial 911 non-emergency and a police unit will be dispatched to your location.

    Auto Tour Route Map

    Seasonal Closure
    Between October 1 and April 30, all visitors on the Auto Tour Route must remain in their vehicles. The large flocks of ducks, geese, and swan using the Refuge during this period become accustomed to seeing cars and will allow cars to pass by, or even stop, without taking flight. Your car becomes your personal mobile observation blind. When everyone follows this rule, the result is a high quality birding opportunity for all. During this time of year, you may exit your vehicle only at the Refuge entrance parking lot and at the observation blind parking lot.

    Please be a courteous drive and obey posted speed limits . Also, use turnouts to stop and observe wildlife while allowing other vehicles to safely pass. From May 1 to September 30, large concentrations of wintering waterfowl have left the region. During this period, foot traffic is allowed on the Auto Tour Route.

    Periodically, the refuge may be closed for scheduled maintenance or construction projects, or because weather conditions have created hazardous conditions. Look for updates on this website or Contact Us.

  • Audio Tour

    The Friends of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge created this great seasonal guide that goes with the brown numbered markers along the route. If you are new to the refuge and want to learn more about what you might see, download it from iTunes. There is a Fall/Winter and a Spring/Summer version.

    Learn More
  • Kiwa Trail & Viewing Blind

    Part way around the Auto Tour Route is a viewing blind that allows year-round access to a restroom, short trail, and observation blind. This paved trail goes through a beautiful stand of Oregon ash and connects to the observation blind overlooking Rest Lake. This is a great place to observe and photograph wildlife without disturbing them. No reservations needed.

    **Kiwa trail currently closed** 

    Sandhill cranes, an endangered species in Washington state, are currently nesting along the trial. It is very important for the success of this nest that they are not disturbed by human activity during this time. Staff will carefully monitor crane activity and open the trail as soon as possible. We hope you celebrate this with us by following the closure to help these birds get their best chance for success. 

    The Kiwa Trail on the River 'S' Unit can be reached by following the Auto Tour Route past the observation blind. The Kiwa Trial is open from May 1 to September 30 during daylight hours. The trail offers a generally level grade and is constructed of compacted gravel and boardwalks. The trail is well suited for wheelchairs, wheeled walkers, and baby strollers.

    Learn More