About the Refuge

Acorn Woodpecker, Large, Matt Lee

Located near the confluence of the Willamette and Santiam Rivers, Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1965 as part of the Willamette Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex.


The area was previously known as "Ankeny Bottoms" and was selected as a refuge site to provide overwintering habitat for the dusky Canada goose and other migratory waterfowl.  The dusky Canada goose is a subspecies of Canada goose that was in a decline in the late 1950's and early 1960's. This was primarily due to earthquakes and floods in its nesting habitat on Alaska's Copper River Delta, and the urbanization of its wintering habitat in the Willamette Valley. 

Today, the refuge’s extensive croplands are managed to provide winter forage for the geese, which reduces depredation of surrounding private fields and promotes a healthy wildlife-landowner relationship as well as providing for the geese. The refuge also provides wetlands and riparian woodland sanctuary for migratory and resident  wildlife which range from the tiny Pacific chorus frog to the black-tailed deer. 

Just off of Interstate 5, the refuge offers convenient access to miles of boardwalk and dirt trails as well as handicap and stroller accessible viewing platforms for its human visitors. Refuge kiosks and trails provide an interpretive and informative experience for visitors, so make sure to stop at the interpretive signs along the way to learn more about the refuge habitats and how they are maintained for wildlife. 

Nature photographers also enjoy the use of these observation blinds and trails, and we provide access to a refuge photography blind which overlooks Frog Pond. The photography blind is available for reservation during the winter sanctuary season. Refuge boardwalks and kiosks are open year-round, but all other trails are closed from October 1 through March 31 to provide sanctuary for wintering dusky Canada geese and other waterfowl.

For questions about the refuge, call the complex headquarters at (541) 757-7236 or fill out our online Contact Us form.