Encircled by waterfall-draped mountains, the picturesque Hanalei Valley on the north shore of Kaua‘i harbors the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge.
Except for the ʻŌkolehao Trail and its parking lot, Hanalei NWR is closed to the public

Visitors may overlook Hanalei NWR from an observation point located along Kuhio Highway in Princeville. Interpretive signage at the overlook provides information on the Refuge's wildlife and management. Limited parking for the ʻŌkolehao Trailhead is available through the Refuge via Ohiki Rd. Please drive very slowly (<15 mph) allowing wildlife to cross the road; do not stop or park your vehicle along the road.

Visit Us

The New Hanalei Viewpoint is nearing completion!

In partnership with the State of Hawai‘i Department of Transportation Highways Division (HDOT) we are pleased to announce the construction of the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) Viewpoint is nearly done.  

The Hanalei NWR Viewpoint is a 5.4-acre parcel located along Kūhiō Highway in Princeville that includes two viewpoints of the greater Hanalei Valley and Bay, Hanalei NWR, and the Halele‘a Forest Reserve.  The site also includes parking for 25 cars, short-term parking for a maximum of three buses, perimeter fencing and entry gate, signs, interpretive displays, vault toilets, seating, and native plantings that will provide residents and visitors with opportunities to learn about the natural and cultural history of the Hanalei Valley and the Hanalei NWR.  

Work remains with contractors to finish landscaping and highway striping.  Additional management preparations and operations plans are being finalized and we are working on obtaining a final permit from the County in order to release the site from the rest of the surrounding subdivision.  Once all of these remaining items have been completed, a tentative opening of the site to the public is proposed for late Fall 2022, which will coincide with the Hanalei NWRʻs 50th anniversary. 

Hanalei NWR, which is one of three refuges within the Kauaʻi NWR Complex, provides one of the most important wetland habitat sites in the State of Hawai‘i for the recovery of the endangered koloa maoli (Hawaiian duck, Anas wyvilliana), ‘alae ke‘oke‘o (Hawaiian coot, Fulica alai), ‘alae ‘ula (Hawaiian common gallinule, Gallinula galeata sandvicensis), ae‘o (Hawaiian stilt, Himantopus mexicanus knudseni), and threatened nēnē (Hawaiian goose, Branta sandvicensis).

In the meantime

Except for the Okolehao trail and parking lot, Hanalei NWR is closed to the public to minimize disturbance and protect endangered waterbirds. Visitors may overlook Hanalei NWR from an observation point located along Kūhiō Highway in Princeville. Interpretive signage at the overlook provides information on the Refuge's wildlife and management. Limited parking for the Okolehao Trailhead is available through the Refuge via Ohiki Rd. Please drive very slowly (<15 mph) allowing wildlife to cross the road; do not stop or park your vehicle along the road.

Location and Contact Information

      About Us

      What is the National Wildlife Refuge System?

      Founded by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903 and administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Wildlife Refuge System is a diverse network of lands and waters dedicated to conserving America’s rich fish and wildlife heritage.

      Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge

      There has been wetland agriculture in the Hanalei Valley for hundreds of years. Traditional kalo farming practices help maintain waterbird feeding and nesting areas, in conjunction with Service managed wetlands. 

      Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), established in 1972, is the oldest of Kaua‘i's three refuges that are part of the Kauaʻi National Wildlife Refuge Complex.  Hanalei NWR was established under the Endangered Species Act to recover threatened and endangered species, including the endangered koloa or (Hawaiian duck, Anas wyvilliana), ‘alae ke‘oke‘o (Hawaiian coot, Fulica alai), ‘alae ‘ula (Hawaiian moorhen, Gallinula chloropus sandvicensis), ae‘o (Hawaiian stilt, Himantopus mexicanus) and nēnē (Hawaiian goose, Branta sandvicensis, now listed as Threatened).  The 917-acre refuge was purchased by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from the Eagle County Development Corporation with Land and Water Conservation Funds.  The Refuge is located within a proposed State Historic and Conservation District, and is also home to the Haraguchi Rice Mill which is on the National Register of Historic Places. 

      What We Do

      The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service manages the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge to:

      1) Protect and enhance Hawaiian waterbird populations and provide high quality nesting and feeding habitat

      2) Protect and enhance the native plant community and riverine ecosystem

      3) Provide opportunities for wildlife observation, interpretation, and environmental education.

      Our Species

      Somewhat similar in appearance to a Canada Goose except only the face, cap, and hindneck are black; and Hawaiian geese have buff-colored cheeks. The front and sides of the neck appear to have black and white stripes. This is caused by diagonal rows of white feathers with black skin showing...

      FWS Focus

      The Hawaiian Duck or koloa, is generally mottled brown and has a green to blue speculum (the distinctive feathers on the secondary wing feathers) with white borders. Adult males tend to have a darker head and neck feathers (sometimes green). Both sexes have orange legs and feet. Females have a...

      FWS Focus

      The Hawaiian common moorhen is recognized as a distinct subspecies, differing from other races in having a red blush on the front & sides of the tarsus (Taylor 1998). However, there are no evident plumage or measurement differences from forms in North America (Wilson and Evans 1890-1899;...

      FWS Focus

      The Hawaiian Stilt is a slender wading bird that grows up to 16 inches in length. It has a black back and white forehead, and is white below; the female has a tinge of brown on its back. This endangered species has very long pink legs and a long black bill. The Hawaiian subspecies differs from...

      FWS Focus

      The Hawaiian coot is smaller in body size than the American coot, & the bulbous frontal shield above the bill is distinctly larger than that of the American coot & is usually completely white (Shallenberger 1977; Pratt et al. 1987). From 1 to 3 percent of the total Hawaiian coot...

      FWS Focus

      The short-eared owl is an owl of about 0.7 to 0.8 lbs with females slightly larger in size than males. Plumage is brown, buff, white and rust colors. Patches of brown and buff occur mostly on the back side, while the underside is colored more lightly, being mostly white. Females and males have...

      FWS Focus
      The Dark-rumped Petrel, also known as the Hawaiian Petrel, has a dark gray head, wings, and tail, and a white forehead and belly. It has a stout grayish-black bill that is hooked at the tip, and pink and black feet. This bird measures 16 inches in length and has a wing span of three feet. It has a...
      FWS Focus

      Our Library

      Projects and Research


      Avian Botulism Detector Dogs in Partnership with Conservation Dogs of Hawaii

      Meet Solo, a conservation dog, and her trainer, Kyoko. This yellow lab is being trained to sniff out duck carcasses infected by Avian botulism type C at Hanalei NWR. The goal is to find carcasses quickly to prevent a botulism outbreak. Currently, the Refuge relies on human volunteers to help us find sick or deceased birds. We are striving towards using both humans and dogs in the future to help find as many carcasses as possible.

      Training with Conservation Dogs of Hawaii continued in February 2021. It’s believed that with further training these dogs could one day help infected live birds, which, if caught in time, biologists can administer an antitoxin to save its life.

      Avian botulism type C is a naturally occurring soil bacterium, Clostridium botulinum, which produces a powerful neurotoxin. It occurs year-round in Hawaiʻi due to the warm, wet, and stagnant conditions that allow it to persist. Since 2011, more than 1,300 waterbirds have been killed or sickened by the disease at Hanalei NWR, with over 90% of the mortalities among five federally endangered species. The koloa maoli (Hawaiian duck, Anas wyvilliana) is most susceptible to botulism, because it’s a dabbler.

      A big mahalo to our partners, Conservation Dogs of Hawaii!

      To learn more visit: 

      Conservation Dogs of Hawaii