Visitor Activities

Sites like this allow you to view wildlife in their habitat/USFWS Photo

There is more to Julia Butler Hansen Refuge than endangered Columbian white-tailed deer. Stay for an hour or the whole day to discover the diversity of wildlife that call this place home. Seasons, life cycles and migrating animals make each visit to the refuge a new experience.

  • Wildlife Viewing

    Having a spotting scope is helpful when wildlife watching at the Refuge/USFWS Photo

    Willapa National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to view and photograph a variety of wildlife, including elk, river otters, salmon, amphibians and birds.

    During the fall and spring migrations, the refuge is home to thousands of migrating shorebirds including dunlins, sanderlings, short-billed dowitchers, and black-bellied plovers.

    Learn some wildlife viewing tips...

    Discover the best locations to view wildlife...

  • Photography

    Video has added a new dimension to wildlife photography/ Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

    Perhaps the fastest growing activity on national wildlife refuges in the past ten years has been wildlife photography. You don’t need to purchase expensive equipment or have any experience to get started. A small camera or basic cell phone will do just fine for most visitors.

    Uncover wildlife photography tips...

    Get started at these locations...

  • Hunting

    Julia Butler Hansen Refuge has several goose hunting opportunities/USFWS Photo

    Hunting is an important wildlife management tool that the National Refuge System recognizes as a healthy, traditional outdoor pastime, deeply rooted in America’s heritage. Hunting can instill a unique understanding and appreciate of wildlife, their behavior, and their habitat needs. At Julia Butler Hansen Refuge hunting does not pose a threat to wildlife populations, and in some instances are necessary for sound wildlife management. 

    Find out more about hunting opportunities, seasons and regulations at the Refuge...

  • Boating

    Paddling is a great way to explore refuge islands/USFWS Photo

    Access to much of the Refuge is by boat only, including Wallace, Crims, Tenasillahe, Hunting and Price Islands. Bring your kayak, canoe or motorized boat to visit, and snoop in the shallows of sloughs and investigate shorelines. 

    In Washington, boat ramps are located in the Cathlament Marina, at mile marker 30 off State Highway 4, adjacent to Skamokawa Visita Park and at Willow Grove west of Longview. In Oregon, boat launch sites are located at Aldritch Point near the Brownsmead area and at the John Day boat ramp east of Astoria.

    More about boating on the Columbia River...

  • Family Activities

    Its fun to learn about refuges and wildlife as a family/USFWS Photo

    Engaging young bodies and minds is crucial to the future of wildlife. At the Refuge there are easy ways to integrate and inspire all individuals in your group. Involve the senses of young children on a short walk, give your teens a physical or intellectual challenge, or get the whole family involved in learning something new.

    Uncover some ideas...

  • Interpretation

    Interpretive signs help to tell the unique story of this refuge/USFWS Photo

    Interpretation provide opportunities for visitors to make their own connections to the dynamic world of Julia Butler Hansen Refuge. In addition to staff and volunteers presenting programs to audiences, there is a variety of exhibits, signs, brochures, and electronic media available for you to learn more about the refuge's natural and cultural history.

  • Environmental Education

    Fourth grade student explores the mudflats during a class field trip to Willapa National Wildlife Refuge/Photo Courtesy of Rollin Bannow

    Refuges provide unique and exciting outdoor classrooms – excellent locations for hands-on learning activities. The refuge staff and volunteers occassionally offer educational programs to students of all ages.

    Learn more... 

  • Fishing

    Anglers catch and release sturgeon on the Columbia River/USFWS Photo

    Bank fishing is permitted from the Mainland Unit shoreline adjoining the Elochoman and Columbia Rivers as well as Steamboat and Brooks Sloughs, in accordance with Washington State fishing regulations. Bank fishing is permitted in the pond adjacent to the diking district pumping station by Brooks Slough. All other areas of the mainland unit are closed to fishing. Bank fishing is permitted along the shorelines of refuge islands in accordance with Washington and Oregon state fishing regulations.

  • Events

    Friends of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge host a work party where volunteers help build a trail.

    Refuge visitors are important players in the well-being of the refuge. Volunteers help wildlife in many ways - from planting trees to monitoring.

    If you have a few hours today or time every month, be sure to check out ways to get involved...