Rules and Regulations

Osprey - Jim Cruce_512x219

National Wildlife Refuges are places where wildlife comes first. Although people are welcome and encouraged to visit, activities are regulated and monitored to ensure that impacts to plants and animals are minimal. Remember in the eyes of an animal, you are a predator at the top of the food chain!

  • Refuge Hours

    Visitors are welcome to enjoy the Refuge during daylight hours only. After hours use disturbs resting wildlife and puts them at increased risk for predation. Automatic gates are programmed for dawn and dusk, with current times posted at the entrance sign.  See our Plan Your Visit page for current gate times. No pedestrian access allowed after dark.

  • Leave Pets at Home Please

    no dogs

    The prohibition of pets is to reduce disturbance to wildlife and habitat and make your viewing experience better. The presence of dogs, even when leashed, can scare wildlife away from the trail. It may be because wildlife instinctively look at dogs as predators.  Fleeing from a predator burns much needed energy that animals need to live and raise their young. 

    Note: Certified service animals that are individually trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities are permitted on all trails and facilities as long as they are under the direct control of their owner at all times and all feces is removed from the site.

    Non-service dogs are permitted on the auto tour route, but must remain in the vehicle at all times. 

  • No Bicycles

    no biking

    As a conservation agency we strongly encourage the use of alternate transportation that is healthier for our communities and environment. However, bicycles are not allowed on the refuge to limit disturbance to wildlife. This will drastically increase your ability to observe animals in their natural habitat. Electric and gas powered vehicles are also prohibited unless needed for a disability.

  • Not a Park - Please Slow Down and Enjoy


    Sports such as jogging, Frisbee throwing and 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. This will ensure the safety of wildlife as well as allow you and other visitors to enjoy wonderful sightings of animals using their natural habitat.

  • Take Only Pictures - Leave Only Footprints


    Everything at Ridgefield NWR is for the health and continued vitality of native animal and plant species. Collecting and removing archaeological or historic objects is prohibited, as well as removing any natural material such as plants, mushrooms, berries, and antler sheds. There are plenty of other public places that allow for people to collect materials from the natural environment. Please leave everything you observe and take away only memories.

    Note: All commercial activities, including commercial photography on the Refuge require a Special Use Permit. Contact Refuge staff for information on compatible activities. 

  • It's for the Birds - No Playback Audio Please

    audio playback

    Playback devices used to elicit a response causes stress to birds and takes them away from the important task of raising young and protecting themselves. Some birders will use bird call technology in the field to verify a call they have heard. They may play the call quietly so only they are able to hear it or use headphones, which minimize any potential impact on birds in the wild.

  • Hunting Regulations


    Waterfowl hunting is permitted on approximately 760 acres of spaced blind hunting area on Ridgefield NWR in accordance with State and Federal regulations and Refuge specific conditions.

    Find detailed information about hunting on the Refuge