Plan Your Visit

Barns overlook trail 512x350

Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge provides numerous recreation opportunities to thousands of visitors every year. Whether boating, hiking, or participating in educational programs, visitors enjoy viewing the unique ecosystems and diverse wildlife. Regulation of recreation activities allow for public enjoyment of the refuge while still protecting the wildlife and habitats.

 


Visitor Center

The Visitor Center includes The Nature Shop, an information desk, a view of the freshwater marsh, and interpretive exhibits. It is open Wednesday through Sunday, 9:00a.m. to 4:00p.m, but closed on major Federal holidays including Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. Call the refuge for specific questions regarding holiday closures.

The refuge office is open Monday through Friday, 7:30a.m. to 4:00p.m. The office is closed on all Federal holidays. Call the refuge for specific questions regarding holidays.

Refuge Brochure

Environmental Education Center

The Environmental Education Center may be used by educational groups by appointment only. For more information, visit the "For Educators" section of this website or contact the Environmental Education Coordinator at (360) 753-9467.

Hours

The refuge trails are open everyday for wildlife viewing and nature photography from sunrise to sunset. Please note that all pets, including dogs, are not allowed at the Refuge.  All activities on a wildlife refuge must be wildlife-dependent, so jogging, bicycling, ball sports and similar activities are, like dogs, not allowed.  

Many visitors, especially birders and boaters, have found that it is best to plan a visit to the refuge according to the tides.  The highest concentrations of the estuarine bird species will be most visible within two hours of high tide.

Tide Charts 

Bird List

Visitors must be out of the Refuge by sunset when the entrance gate is locked each evening.

Sunrise and sunset times in Olympia, WA

Prohibited Activities

Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge provides abundant opportunities for wildlife-dependent recreation. Hiking, wildlife observation, environmental education, wildlife photography, fishing, and hunting all allow visitors to learn more about the natural world and the importance of places rich in beauty and biological diversity.

There are some activities that are not permitted on the refuge because they may interfere with or detract from the management, conservation, or protection of refuge fish and wildlife resources.

No Pets
Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually NWR is set aside for the protection and preservation of wildlife. Please feel free to enjoy the opportunity to view wildlife and habitats but leave your pet at home.  Do not leave your pet in the vehicle in the parking lot.

The Refuge is Not a Park
Activities such as jogging, bicycling, Frisbee throwing, kite flying, etc. are not permitted because they are disturbing to wildlife and to other visitors. These should be done in parks that allow these activities. Personal watercraft are limited to a 5 mph speed restriction due to wildlife and habitat disturbance and may be more appropriate in other locations.

Feeding of Wildlife is Prohibited 
Feeding wildlife can change their natural behavior making them more susceptible for illness, predators or accidents.  Also the foods that people eat may be harmful to the digestive systems of wildlife.  Please do not feed any wildlife even if they are begging for food; there is plenty of natural foods for wildlife here.

No Camping and Overnight Use

The refuge is only open to the public from sunrise to sunset. There is no camping allowed on the Refuge; campfires are also not permitted.

Audio Playback to Call in Wildlife is Prohibited
These activities can cause unreasonable disturbance to wildlife and to visitors and could possibly change the behavior of some species of wildlife.   
 
Drones are Prohibited
The use of drones are not allowed on any of the properties managed by Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge without permission from the refuge manager. 

 

Photography that is Not Related to Wildlife or Nature

We welcome nature and wildlife photography.  Keep in mind that photography that is not related to the mission of protecting and observing wildlife, such as family portraits at the barns, graduation photos on the boardwalk, wedding photos, etc., are not considered wildlife-related activities and should be done somewhere else.  In addition, the use of props (such as bringing chairs, balloons, confetti, ribbons, etc.) is strictly prohibited.  The closing of trails and boardwalks for photography as well as going off the trails into protected areas is also prohibited.
 
Going Off-Trail
Please stay on designated trails.  When you go off the trails, you could potentially damage habitat for wildlife plus you may bring invasive seeds from your shoes and clothing into protected areas.  Remember that you are entering the home of wildlife and that they come first.  Also, there is no fishing access from the trails at the refuge.

Directions

The Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is located 8 miles northeast of Olympia, Washington. 

  • From Interstate 5 southbound, take exit 114. Make a right at the traffic light, go under the freeway and make a right into the Refuge. Follow the entrance road to the two public parking lots.
  • From Interstate 5 northbound, take exit 114. Make a left at the stop sign, go under the freeway and make a right into the Refuge. Follow the entrance road to the two public parking lots.

Fees

The daily entrance fee is $3.00 per four adults.  We accept and also sale and provide the America the Beautiful Passes which can provide free entrance to the refuge.  These include: the $80.00 Interagency Annual Pass (old Golden Eagle), $80.00 Lifetime Senior Pass (old Golden Age), $20.00 Annual Senior Pass (old Golden Age), Access Pass (free lifetime pass for Americans with disabilities; applicants must provide documentation of permanent disability and residency or citizenship), and the Military Pass (for Active Duty, Reservists, and National Guard military personnel and their dependents).  Besides the America the Beautiful passes, we also sale the $25.00 annual Federal Duck Stamp (which gives you free admission to National Wildlife Refuges from July 1 to June 30), and the $12.00 Annual Refuge Pass (just for Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually NWR).  All of these passes will admit the pass holder and 3 additional adults (over age 16).  Children 16 and under enter free.  Each of these passes is available at the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge Administration Office and Visitor Center. All proceeds from entrance fees and passes go back into Nisqually NWR Complex programs.  Get more information regarding these passes at General Info: Entrance Fees & Passes or ask about them at the Visitor Center when you visit us.  Keep in mind that the Washington State Discover Pass does not work here since it is for state managed areas, not federal areas.

The procedures for paying may be confusing for the general public.   Please take a blue envelope from the kiosk by the walkway to the Visitor Center.  You do not need to fill out any information on the envelope.  Put $3.00 dollars in the envelope, tear off the sleeve at the perforation and keep that with you on the trails, and seal the envelope and put it in the fee canister by the kiosk.  If you have a pass for the refuge, please keep it with you and don't leave it in your vehicle.  If you are bringing more than four adults in your vehicle and they don't have any of the passes, please contact us at the refuge for more information.