Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge
Pacific Region


General Information

Visitors to Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge enjoy viewing a variety of wildlife within a few minutes of the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan area. The Refuge landscape provides sanctuary throughout the seasons for waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, river otter, black-tailed deer, coyotes, herons, and numerous other species of wildlife. The Refuge also offers a place for people to keep in touch with their 'wild' neighbors. For many, this is a special place to learn about and appreciate the splendor of the natural areas that once occurred in abundance along the lower Columbia River.

The 5,300 acre Refuge contains a lush mosaic of wetlands, grasslands, riparian corridors, fir forests, and Oregon white oak woodlands. These habitats combined with a mild rainy winter climate provide an ideal environment for migrating and wintering waterfowl. Every fall the Refuge comes alive with thousands of ducks, geese, swans and cranes. These birds depart their northern nesting range and migrate to this area to avoid the harsh Alaskan and Canadian winters. On Ridgefield Refuge, they find resting and feeding areas where they spend the winter months preparing to meet the demands of the spring migration and nesting seasons.

The Refuge offers wildlife-dependent public use in designated portions of the Refuge. The Carty Unit and its 2-mile Oaks to Wetlands Trails are open year-round during daylight hours. The River 'S' offers the 1-mile Kiwa Trail, which is open for use from May 1 to September 30. The River 'S' Unit also contains the 4.2-mile Auto Tour Route and observation blind that are open year-round during daylight hours. To limit disturbance to wintering waterfowl , visitors must remain in their vehicles along the Auto Tour Route from October 1 to April 30. Enjoy wildlife observation during the winter months as your car serves as your personal mobile observation blind. A portion of the River 'S' Unit is open to waterfowl hunting during the regular waterfowl hunting season. Follow the links below to learn more about all the public use programs and opportunities on the Refuge. All other areas of the Refuge are posted and closed as sanctuary areas for resident and migratory wildlife. Pets, bicycling, horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking, running and ATVs are not allowed on the Refuge.

Guided Hikes

Full Moon Hikes

A trail that is familiar by day becomes a whole new experience at night! These guided hikes provide opportunities to witness owls hooting, coyotes yipping, and bats wheeling. And, of course, the wonders of the night sky away from city lights. Full moon hikes are free, but space is limited. RSVP required. Please contact nicole_gautier@fws.gov to reserve your spot. For more information please click, Full Moon Hikes.

Birding Hikes

Join a Refuge volunteer naturalist for a series of birding hikes on Ridgefield and Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuges. This is an excellent opportunity to sharpen your birding skills while enjoying Refuge trails. All hikes start at the respective trail head. Space is limited, so please reserve your spot early.

Guided Birding Hikes
Date Location Trip Leader
Steigerwald Lake NWR
April 14, 2013; Sunday Gibbons Creek Wildlife Art Trail RE
May 12, 2013; Sunday Gibbons Creek Wildlife Art Trail RE
June 15, 2013; Saturday Gibbons Creek Wildlife Art Trail RE
Ridgefield NWR; Carty Unit
April 13, 2013; Saturday Oaks to Wetland Trail RE
May 11, 2013; Saturday Oaks to Wetland Trail RE
June 1, 2013; Saturday Oaks to Wetland Trail RE
Ridgefield NWR; River 'S' Unit
May 18, 2013; Saturday Kiwa Trail RE
May 25, 2013; Saturday Kiwa Trail RE
June 2, 2013; Sunday Kiwa Trail RE
Pierce NWR    
April 20, 2013; Saturday Pierce NWR RF
May 4, 2013; Saturday Pierce NWR RF
May 18, 2013; Saturday Pierce NWR RF
June 8, 2013; Saturday Pierce NWR RF
Details: All hikes start at the respective trailhead at 0800 and last approximately 3 hours. Please dress for the weather and come prepared for several hours of trail hiking and birdwatching.
Reservations Required: Space is limited, so please reserve your spot early. For reservations, or for additional details, please contact Eric Anderson at (360) 887-4106 or eric_anderson@fws.gov.
Trip Leader: Ron Escano (RE), Randy Fortish (RF)
Other Opportunities: The Friends of the Columbia Gorge are offering additional hikes and night hikes on the Steigerwald Lake NWR, please visit the Friends of the Columbia River Gorge to learn more.

Follow these links to learn more about recreation opportunities on the Refuge:

Special Events

General Recreation Map

Wildlife Observation

Waterfowl Hunting


Auto Tour Route


Plankhouse & Cultural Resources




Last updated: May 9, 2013