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Visitor Activities

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The San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge is a natural gem consisting of the most preserved wetlands in South Bay. You can ride your bike around the refuge, observe and photograph wildlife, and view tens of thousands of migratory terns who nest in the interior of the refuge.

You can get involved in our education and interpretation programs with our partners, and attend special events. You can volunteer during our habitat restoration events, or just have fun playing a game with the new Discover Nature App! 

Whatever you choose, the San Diego Bay NWR is a beautiful place to relax and recreate.

  • Wildlife Observation/Photography

    flock of sandpipers

    Wildlife can be observed all around the refuge, but the best spots are at Sweetwater Marsh, our Habitat Heroes outdoor classroom, and the Bayside Birding and Walking Trail. The best times of the year are spring/summer for all the thousands of migrating terns and winter for the migrating waterfowl. Click here for a map!

  • Discover Nature App


    Discover the refuge in a whole new way! This GPS-based game is available in both English and Spanish, and pops up questions as you walk your way down the trails. Two different games are available: "Discover Sweetwater Marsh" and "Discover South Bay." Click here for directions on how to download.

    Learn More
  • Bayside Birding & Walking Trail

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    This new 0.4 mile trail runs parallel along the Bayshore Bikeway, from 7th Street east to 10th Street in Imperial Beach. Stroller and wheelchair-friendly, this easy trail has interpretive signage and the most beautiful views of the refuge. Stay tuned for future nature walks!

    Learn More
  • Hunting & Fishing

    No hunting sign on Refuges

    Neither hunting or fishing are currently permitted on the refuge due to the sensitivity of its resources and proximity to urbanization. However, waterfowl hunting is currently offered seasonally at Barrett Lake and Lake Sutherland, both operated by the City of San Diego. Upland game hunting is available within the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's San Felipe Valley Wildlife Area and Boden Canyon Ecological Reserve, as well as within portions of the Cleveland National Forest. 
    The closest fishing piers to the Refuge are located at Pepper Park in National City and Bayside Park in Chula Vista.  

  • Boating

    FWS Law Enforcement bay patrol

    Within Refuge boundaries, boating and kayaking are not permitted due to the sensitive bird life.
    Public boat ramps are available at Bayfront Park, near the Chula Vista Marina, and in National City at Pepper Park. Other marinas located in proximity to the Refuge include Loew’s Crown Isle Marina, and two marinas in the Coronado Cays. Please refer to this map to make sure you do not boat or kayak into the refuge.

Page Photo Credits — Credit: USFWS
Last Updated: Nov 22, 2016
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