Wildlife Viewing

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As the only category of Federal Lands set aside explicitly for the protection of wildlife and habit, Refuges like Nisqually NWR are the perfect place to connect people of all ages with nature and the with the positive benefits of conservation.

  • Hiking Trails

    The Refuge has approximately 5 miles of walking trails. The one-mile Twin Barns Loop Trail is a fully accessible boardwalk trail with access to the observation platform. The Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail begins one mile from the Visitor Center and the Boardwalk is one mile long. So a round trip walk from the Visitor Center to the end of the Boardwalk and back is 4 miles. Please stay on the trails. The Refuge presents many wonderful opportunities for photographers. Observation platforms along the trail provide countless possibilities to capture that perfect moment.

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  • Boating

    Travelling the waters of the Nisqually River or McAllister Creek by boat is sure to reveal natural wonders that cannot be experienced on land by foot.

    Boating is permitted in waters outside the Sanctuary Area and seasonally in the Research Natural Area. Canoeists, kayakers, and small boaters should beware of hazardous tides, shallow waters, wind, and weather conditions around the Nisqually Delta. There is a boat speed restriction of 5mph in all Refuge waters.

    The nearest public boat ramps are Luhr Beach located at the mouth of McAllister Creek (see map), and Nisqually HNDCP located at river mile 3.7 on the Nisqually River south of I-5 at 6th Ave SE. Both of these sites require a Discover Pass issued by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Licensing Bureau, or various commercial retailers such as Cabella's.

  • Prohibited Activities

    Nisqually 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 a few 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 
    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.

    The Refuge is Not a Park 
    Sports such as jogging, bicycling, Frisbee throwing, kite flying 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.

    No Camping 
    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.