Visitor Activities

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Wildlife can be seen year-round at the refuge, from migrating shorebirds and Black-tailed Deer to resident songbirds and mammals such as otters, seals and other amphibious life. Both the Bandon Marsh Unit and the Ni-les'tun Unit feature viewing decks with interpretive panels and expansive views of the estuary.

Additional visitor opportunities are available at Coquille Point, a mainland unit of Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. This is an excellent place to explore the beach and observe wildlife, particularly seabirds and Harbor Seals. A paved trail winds over the headland and offers interpretive panels on wildlife and their life histories.

Interested in a fun and informative self-guided tour? Check out the new "Discover Nature" app for Coquille Point.

  • Wildlife Viewing

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    Some tips to make watching wildlife enjoyable and rewarding:

    • Download our Watchable Wildlife guide (PDF 444 KB), consult Oregon Explorer's Watchable Wildlife page to locate hotspots for wildlife, or look for the "Wildlife Viewing Station" sign wherever you visit. Plan your visit according to the season, tidal phase, and time of day. Wildlife is generally more active in the mornings and early evenings than in the afternoon.

    • Download a copy of the Oregon Coast Birding Trail guide.

    • Keep voices down while approaching a viewing area to avoid scaring wildlife away before you get there. Although animals may disappear when you arrive, they often return shortly if you are quiet and still.

    • Use binoculars and spotting scopes to bring animals "closer" to you without disturbing them.

    • Bring a field guide to help you identify various species and the habitats they prefer. But, remember the goal is to identify with the wildlife, not just identify it.

    • Often a close look reveals more. Look up, look down. Or peer through a hand lens to enter the world of insects. Animals come in a range of sizes and occupy a variety of niches.

    • Avoid disturbing wildlife. Remember that all coastal rocks and islands are closed to public access, and all watercraft should stay at least 500 feet away.

  • Interpretation

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    During the summer, volunteers offer interpretation on weekends to visitors at various locations up and down the coast, including:

    • Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach

    • Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint

    • Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area

    • Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint

    • Cape Arago State Park

    • Coquille Point, Bandon

    • Harris Beach State Park

  • Hiking

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    Very short trails exist on both units of the refuge; find them on the Refuge Trails website.

    Coquille Point, a mainland unit of Oregon Islands Refuge located in Bandon, is a spectacular place to observe seabirds and seals as well as explore the beach. The point overlooks a series of offshore rocks of every shape and size that provide habitat for Common Murre, Tufted Puffin, Western Gull and Brandt's Cormorant as well as Harbor Seal and rocky intertidal invertebrates. A paved trail winds over the headland and features interpretive panels that share stories about the area's wildlife and habitat.

  • Hunting

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    Hunting is an important wildlife management tool that we recognize as a healthy, traditional outdoor pastime, deeply rooted in America’s heritage. Hunting can instill a unique understanding and appreciate of wildlife, their behavior, and their habitat needs.

    Hunting programs can promote understanding and appreciation of natural resources and their management on lands and waters in the Refuge System. Go to the Permits page for more information about hunting opportunities, seasons and regulations at Bandon Marsh NWR.

  • Photography

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    Perhaps the fastest growing activity on national wildlife refuges in the past ten years has been wildlife photography. That’s not surprising—the digital camera population explosion and cell phones with ever-improving picture-taking abilities are increasing the number of nature photographers at a rapid rate. You don’t need to purchase expensive equipment or have any experience to get started. A small camera or camera-phone will do just fine for most visitors.

  • Fishing

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    Fishing and shellfishing is permitted on the Bandon Marsh Unit, west of U.S. Highway 101. Fishing is permitted on the Ni-les'tun Unit, south of North Bank Lane. No shellfishing is permitted on the Ni-es’tun Unit. The fishing areas of the refuge are open during daylight hours. Primary fishing on the Bandon Marsh Unit is shellfishing on refuge mudflats. The Ni-les’tun Unit offers opportunities to fish for salmon, steelhead, cutthroat trout, striped bass, and surfperch from the banks of the Coquille River. Tidal channels within the Unit are challenging to fish due to tides and woody debris, but offer opportunities for cutthroat trout for the enterprising angler. Fishing season is year-round.

    For more information, please see our new Fishing Plan.