Visitor Activities

Refuge visitors enjoy a picnic along the Art Trail/Photo Courtesy of Richard Notol

Change is a constant at Willapa National Wildlife Refuge. Tides, seasons, life cycles and migrating animals make each visit to the refuge a new experience. There are a multitude of opportunities to interact with wildlife at Willapa. What will your next visit unveil?

  • Wildlife Viewing

    Wildlife viewing abounds at Willapa National Wildlife Refuge/Photo Courtesy of Rollin Bannow

    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...

  • Hiking

    Hikers enjoy Long Island, part of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge/USFWS Photo

    One of the best ways to experience the refuge is to leave your car behind and start walking. Willapa National Wildlife Refuge has walking opportunities for all ages and abilities, including an accessable 1/4 mile boardwalk located at our Headquarters Office.

    Find a trail that is just right for you...

  • 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

    Willapa National Wildlife Refuge has several goose hunting blinds available to hunters/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 Willapa National Wildlife 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 Willapa National Wildlife Refuge...

  • Boating

    Canoe to Long Island 150x118

    Access to some areas of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge is by boat only. Bring your kayak, canoe or motorized boat to visit Long Island, snoop in the shallows of Willapa Bay or investigate inlets and freshwater streams. A boat ramp is located at the Refuge Headquarters Office on State Route 101.

    More about boating at the refuge...

  • Camping

    Camping is available on Long Island/Photo Courtesty of Curt Stephens

    A refuge rarity - camping is allowed at five locations on Long Island (access by boat only). A total of 20 primitive campsites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Campers are required to register and obtain a free camping permit for specific campsites during the early elk archery season. Registration is not required the remainder of the year. Early elk archery season generally takes place for three weeks in September, but exact dates vary. 

    Each campsite has a picnic table, fire ring and access to a pit toilet. A maximum number of five people are allowed in each campsite.

    Get more information about camping...

  • Shellfish Harvesting

    Littleneck clams are bountiful in public tidelands/USDA Photo Ken Hammond

    Clams and oysters may be harvested from public tidelands located on the western side of Long Island as regulated by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife. A state shellfish license is required. Be mindful of boundaries as many privately owned tidelands surround Long Island and are closed to the public.

    Uncover more information about harvesting clams and oysters on Long Island.

  • 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 Willapa National Wildlife 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.

  • Interpretation

    Interpretive signs like this one on the Cutthroat Trail create a fun and informative way to learn about refuge wildlife/USFWS Photo

    Interpretation programs provide opportunities for visitors to make their own connections to the dynamic world of Willapa National Wildlife 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 Friends of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge volunteers offer educational programs to students of all ages.

    Lesson plans and additional materials from our Fourth Grade Environmental Education Program, as well as tips for teachers and how to schedule a refuge visit are available here... 

  • Fishing

    Anglers use the boat launch near refuge headquarters to access Willapa Bay and nearby Naselle River to catch sturgeon/USFWS Photo

    Although the refuge surrounds much of southern Willapa Bay, Willapa National Wildlife Refuge is not considered a prime fishing location. Most visitors interested in fishing on the refuge are in search of sturgeon. Many fisherman utilize the boat launch located at the refuge headquarters office to access Willapa Bay and nearby Naselle River. 

    Fishing is permitted from the shores of Willapa Bay, but not permitted on the refuge streams, beaver ponds or interior sloughs. Find out more...

  • 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 Willapa's wildlife in many ways - from planting trees to maintaining trails and participating in beach clean-up events.

    If you have a few hours today or time every month, be sure to check our events calendar for ways to participate...