Visitor Activities

The Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is a National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), one of over 560 Federal natural areas set aside for fish and wildlife first as a primary purpose.  Even the specific set of wildlife-dependent recreation activities allowed on refuge lands are limited in order to provide the needed protection and conservation of wildlife and habitats.  The six wildlife dependent activities allowed on refuge lands are described in detail below; for information specific to Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually NWR, be sure to explore the links following each section of text.

  • Wildlife Viewing

    If you enjoy getting outdoors and looking for wildlife, consider a visit to Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually NWR!  Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually NWR has about four miles of hiking trails and, because of the refuge system's emphasis on habitat, visiting a refuge can provide for outstanding wildlife viewing opportunities in a given area.  Across the nation, from birding to whale watching, whether viewing speedy pronghorn antelope or slow-moving box turtles, wildlife observation is the most popular activity for refuge visitors.

    From every state and all parts of the globe, about 40 million people visit refuges each year, especially for the chance to see concentrations of wildlife and birds.  The National Wildlife Refuge System’s extensive trail system, boardwalks, observation decks, hunting and photography blinds, fishing piers and boat launches encourage visitors to discover America’s best wildlife spectacles.

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  • Interpretation

    A guided program is the perfect way to learn about the rich natural and historic resources at Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge! Refuge System programs, sometimes called "interpretative programs," provide opportunities for visitors to make their own connections to the natural world.  From self-guided walks to ranger-led programs, many national wildlife refuges help visitors learn more about the wildlife and habitat behind the landscapes.

    In addition to staff and volunteers presenting programs to audiences, refuges use a variety of exhibits, signs, brochures, and electronic media to communicate natural history stories to visitors.  Printed and virtual information is often available on many topics, including plants and animals, seasonal migrations, habitats, refuge management strategies, and endangered species.

    Through Refuge System interpretative programs, you can learn why nearly all of the critically endangered Whooping Cranes spend the winter at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas, about the beneficial role of wildfire to encourage native vegetation to grow at Necedah Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin, and thousands of other interesting and informative stories.

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  • Environmental Education

    National Wildlife Refuges serve many purposes, and one of our most important roles is as outdoor classrooms to teach about wildlife and natural resources.  Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge offers environmental education programs for a variety of audiences.  We represent a unique and exciting outdoor environment – an excellent location for hands-on learning activities.  Thousands of students visit every year to learn about a specific topic on wildlife, habitat, or ecological processes.

    Is your school, youth, environmental or other group interested in learning more about the wildlife, plants, habitats and ecology at Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually NWR?  Refuges are wild places, and we want to teach you more about them!

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  • Photography

    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 basic cell phone will do just fine for most visitors.

    Nearly 12 million people visit outdoor areas each year to photograph wildlife, and national wildlife refuges naturally are at the top of the list.  Refuges provide enhanced opportunities to photograph wildlife in natural habitats by providing platforms, brochures, interpreters, viewing areas, and tour routes.  Wildlife photography is a high-priority activity at Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge and throughout the Refuge System.  We welcome beginning and expert photographers alike to record their outdoor adventures on film, memory card or internal hard drive! 

  • Hunting

    Hunting is permitted within a limited area at Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.  It 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 appreciation of wildlife, their behavior, and their habitat needs.

    As practiced on refuges, hunting, trapping and fishing do not pose a threat to wildlife populations, and in some instances are necessary for sound wildlife management.  For example, because their natural predators are gone, deer populations will often grow too large for the refuge habitat to support.

    Hunting programs can promote understanding and appreciation of natural resources and their management on lands and waters in the Refuge System.

    To find out more about hunting opportunities, seasons and regulations at Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, follow the link below or contact us directly.

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  • Fishing

    Fishing is allowed at Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually NWR, but is permitted by boat access only and is limited, in order to support conservation efforts, to areas outside our main sanctuary area.  

    Other refuges throughout the Refuge System also offer a wide variety of quality fishing opportunities.  Fishing programs promote understanding and appreciation of natural resources and their management on all lands and waters in the Refuge System.  Every year, about 7 million anglers visit national wildlife refuges, where knowledgeable staff and thousands of volunteers help them have a wonderful fishing experience.

    For a great place to reconnect with a favorite childhood activity or to try it for the first time, make plans to fish at a national wildlife refuge soon.  Find more information with our on-line Guide to Fishing on National Wildlife Refuge.  Quality fishing opportunities are available on more than 270 national wildlife refuges. Visitors can experience virtually every type of sport fishing on the continent.  From inconnu and grayling in remote Alaska, to snook hovering by mangroves in Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands, National Wildlife Refuges offer anglers adventure and diversity.


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