Plan Your Visit

Chukar

A visit to McNary NWR is always worth the time—especially when it’s only minutes from the Tri-Cities of Washington (Kennewick, Pasco, Richland).


Hours

Public use areas of the refuge are open daily during daylight hours (sunrise to sunset), except as modified by fishing and hunting regulations (see our Regulations page). The headquarters are open 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Friday. The hours of operation for the Environmental Education Center are the same if staff and volunteers are available. Please phone ahead (509-546-8300) to avoid disappointment.

Accessibility

The new McNary Environmental Education Center is fully accessible (barrier-free). The first 1,800 feet of interpretive trail to the birdwatching blind are hard-surfaced and accessible to wheelchairs, as is the blind itself.

The McNary National Wildlife Refuge provides three barrier-free (accessible) hunting blinds—the Burbank Slough Fee Hunt Unit hunting blinds #8 and #2 are designated accessible blinds, as is the Peninsula Unit's #11 blind. The refuge and its volunteers are in the process of improving these blinds and striving to make them and their trail access consistent with ADA standards. If you have concerns, please contact the refuge prior to use.

There are also two accessible fishing piers. The larger and more popular accessible fishing pier is located on the Two Rivers Unit at Quarry Pond. The second and smaller accessible fishing pier is located on the Wallula Unit at the boat launch and allows disabled fishermen to fish the Walla Walla River.

Entrance to the refuge is only permitted from designated public entrance areas. Parking is only allowed in designated parking areas. Vehicles, including bicycles, motorcycles and ATVs, are allowed only on designated routes of travel and must be parked in designated parking areas. There are about 20 miles of roads maintained for public use on the refuge. Of these roads, 17 miles are unpaved, with graveled or natural dirt surfaces. Gates have been installed along certain roads to minimize impact and disturbance at certain times, yet allow refuge staff access for maintenance activities or wildfire suppression. Please contact the refuge if you have questions on road access.

Access is also permitted by boat at any suitable point along the approximately 14 miles of refuge shoreline fronting the Columbia River. Please note that while boating provides access to refuge islands, all islands are closed to public access for the protection of the many species of birds that depend upon them for critical resting, nesting, roosting and foraging habitat. In general, all units of the McNary National Wildlife Refuge are open to the public year round, except the following: Strawberry Island, Sanctuary Pond (closed to hunting, except for two sites, see the Hunting Regulations), and the Burbank Slough Fee Hunt Area. The Peninsula Unit is open for foot traffic from February 1 through July 15 but closed the rest of the year to protect nesting birds and limit fires.

Overnight camping is not available on the refuge. However, approximately one mile from the Burbank Office, on the northeast corner of the intersection of State Highway 12 and Highway 124 (Ice Harbor Drive), is Hood Park, managed by the Army Corp of Engineers, Walla Walla District.

For driving directions to the refuge, please download our "Directions" PDF.

Weather

The McNary National Wildlife Refuge lies in the semi-arid shrub-steppe Columbia Basin Plateau. Average monthly temperatures range from a low of 31° F in January, to a high of 76° F in July. Daily maximum temperatures vary from an average of 35° F in late December and early January to 100° F; in late July. With an annual precipitation of 6.8 inches, mostly occurring during the late autumn and winter, rain usually does not limit visitation. Snowfall accounts for about 38% of all precipitation from December though February. Visitors to the refuge can expect to encounter wind. Maximum wind speeds and wind days occur along the Stateline and Juniper Canyon Units as a result of the Wallula Gap. In general, winds are lower during the winter months, averaging six to seven miles per hour, and faster during the summer, averaging eight to nine miles per hour. Always carry water and be prepared for rain, wind, cold and sun.