Current Alerts in Effect

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is following federal, state, and local public health authority guidance to implement a phased approach to increase public access to Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge 

Based on this guidance and in accordance with the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the refuge has begun to safely increase access. 

Beginning June 17, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge will reopen public access to the state connector trails and boardwalk.  The outdoor restrooms at both trailheads are also open. 

These include the: 

  • Partnership Trail 

  • Pool 1 Seasonal Trail 

  • Estuary Trail 

  • Gallagher Trail 

  • Woodies Roost Trail 

 

More than 12 miles of trails are available for hiking, the 8-mile wildlife drive is open on weekends from sunrise to sunset for cars, Cedar Point Fishing Access and West Harbor Landing are open for paddling and fishing. All within CDC social distancing guidance.  

The health and safety of our visitors, volunteers and employees remains our number one priority and the following facilities or areas remain closed until further notice: 

  • Visitor center     

  • Wildlife Window 

 

We are excited to welcome you back but do ask that you follow current CDC safe practices by maintaining a safe distance between yourself and other groups; washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and most importantly, staying home if you feel sick. Staff are working to maintain clean, safe, and healthy facilities in accordance with federal, state and local guidance. 

Please continue to visit this site for updates. We look forward to seeing you soon! 


Wildlife Drive Information

The Wildlife Drive is open on scheduled days only. On occasion, we must close the drive on the days that it is scheduled to be open. This is not a decision that we make lightly. Please call, 419-898-0014, or check our Facebook page for the most up to date information on the status of the wildlife drive. 

We are commonly asked why the road cannot be open more and that is not a simple answer but please read the following explanation for the main reasons.

There are many reasons that the road cannot be opened every day. 1)The only road that can handle the traffic is the main road that our maintenance and management staff can use to move through the refuge. The road cannot handle two way traffic, and they are often traveling in large equipment. Having vehicles on the road would hamper their movement and cause long delays in their work day, and frustrations for the visitors. 2) The roads are not just used for travel, they are on top of dikes that are used for water management. This means that they cannot handle the amount of traffic that would be on them if the route were open every day. Without solid sturdy dikes we do not have water control and without that we do not have habitat. 3) If the previous two problems were mitigated, we still have the fact that the traffic causes a considerable amount of damage to the roads. If it rains on a spring wildlife drive day it can cost the refuge thousands of dollars to repair the damage in order to open it again. While the roads are gravel, that gravel sinks into the road base when driven on while wet. 4) During certain parts of the year the traffic causes a significant amount of disturbance to migrating birds, and the refuge is here to provide a resting and feeding spot for these birds. This area is not open to any other public use during that time in order to limit the disturbance. We do not have the option to change the route and the only road available travels through the very heart of the best habitat on the refuge.