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Auto Tour Route

Auto Tour - Lyn Topinka_512x219

Whether you are a photographer, a "birder" or someone who just enjoys watching and being in nature, this one-size-fits-all experience will surely give you a taste of the Refuge.  This four mile loop gives visitors of all physical abilities the chance to see many habitats and wildlife up close in any season as you use your vehicle as a viewing blind.

  • Seasons & Rules

    The 4 mile Auto Tour Route is open daylight hours throughout the year. Closing times for the automated gate system are posted on the gates at the refuge entrance and on the Plan Your Visit page. Please allow sufficient time to safely drive the Auto Tour Route and exit the unit before the gate closes. Should you be locked in behind the gate, you may call the Ridgefield Police Department at 887-3556 or dial 911 non-emergency and a police unit will be dispatched to your location.

    Auto Tour Route Map


    Seasonal Closure

    Between October 1 and April 30, all visitors on the Auto Tour Route must remain in their vehicles. The large flocks of ducks, geese, and swan using the Refuge during this period become accustomed to seeing cars and will allow cars to pass by, or even stop, without taking flight. Your car becomes your personal mobile observation blind. When everyone follows this rule, the result is a high quality birding opportunity for all. During this time of year, you may exit your vehicle only at the Refuge entrance parking lot and at the observation blind parking lot.

    Please be a courteous drive and obey posted speed limits . Also, use turnouts to stop and observe wildlife while allowing other vehicles to safely pass. From May 1 to September 30, large concentrations of wintering waterfowl have left the region. During this period, foot traffic is allowed on the Auto Tour Route.

    Periodically, the refuge may be closed for scheduled maintenance or construction projects, or because weather conditions have created hazardous conditions. Look for updates on this website or Contact Us.

  • Information Kiosk and Volunteer Station

    Pay your $3 fee or register your pass here at this self-service kiosk. See fliers about current events, pick up a brochure, wildlife list and map, and borrow a copy of the audio tour CD. If staffed with a volunteer you can ask any additional questions you have. Check out the bird sightings white board and add to it after you have gone around the loop.  You can also see up to date bird sightings on the Friends of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge's Bird List page.

  • Audio Tour

    The Friends of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge created this great seasonal guide that goes with the brown numbered markers along the route. If you are new to the refuge and want to learn more about what you might see, borrow this audio tour cd from the information kiosk or download it from iTunes. There is a Fall/Winter and a Spring/Summer version.

  • Kiwa Trail

    The Kiwa Trail on the River 'S' Unit can be reached by following the Auto Tour Route past the observation blind. The Kiwa Trial is open from May 1 to September 30 during daylight hours. The trail offers a generally level grade and is constructed of compacted gravel and boardwalks. The trail is well suited for wheelchairs, wheeled walkers, and baby strollers.

    Learn More
  • Viewing Blind

    Part way around the Auto Tour Route is a viewing blind that allows year-round access to a restroom, short trail, and observation blind. This paved trail goes through a beautiful stand of Oregon ash and connects to the observation blind overlooking Rest Lake. This is a great place to observe and photograph wildlife without disturbing them. No reservations needed.

Last Updated: Jan 28, 2015
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