About Toppenish

Afternoon Duck Flock

Ducks. Thousands and thousands of ducks. That's the image first brought to mind when thinking of Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge. However, a second look reveals more—there are also geese . . .

. . . and endangered steelhead and shorebirds and upland wildlife—like coyotes, mule deer and badgers—and a whole host of other wildlife calling the refuge home.

It's all about the birds. Not only is the spring and fall migration an exciting time to visit the refuge, but the summer is as well. Great horned owlets are learning to fend for themselves, coveys of quail forage around the visitor center and many species of songbirds can be seen and heard along the walking trail.

Spread across the Yakima Valley, Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge offers a broad collection of habitats, and thus species. Natural and managed wetlands, mixed with shrub-steppe and streams, provide homes for just about every species found in the Columbia Basin. The wildlife, in turn, attracts visitors, mainly hunters and bird watchers. The refuge is well-known for its waterfowl hunting opportunities, and those same waterfowl, along with scores of species of waterbirds, shorebirds and passerines, draw in serious "birders."

Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1964, is an important link in the chain of feeding and resting areas for waterfowl and other migratory birds using the Pacific Flyway. The refuge is one of eight refuges in the Mid-Columbia River National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Although Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge was established primarily for migratory waterfowl, many other migratory and resident wildlife species benefit from refuge habitat management.

The refuge consists of 1,978 acres spread over a distance of 27 miles in the agriculturally intensive Yakima Valley. The main part of the refuge (Robbins and Pumphouse Units) is at the center, with the remaining smaller parcels spread around the valley. Eight of the outlying units lie upstream of the main refuge area, and four are located downstream. The entire refuge is situated within the floodplain of Toppenish Creek, a year-round tributary of the Yakima River.