Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge
Pacific Region

Plan Your Visit

Where is the Refuge?

Use the mapping tool in the pull-down menu in the header of each webpage for Ridgefield Refuge or use this link to the same mapping tool: Driving Directions.

When is the refuge open?

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Auto Tour Route and Carty Unit Hours: Daily - 6:30 am to 5:00 pm (Automatic Entrance Gate Hours).

The Refuge is open every day during daylight hours. Closing times for the automated gate system are posted on the gates at the refuge entrances. Should you be locked in behind the gate, you may call the Ridgefield Police Department at 360-887-3556 or dial 911 non-emergency and a police unit will be dispatched to your location.

Periodically, the refuge may be closed for routine maintenance, scheduled construction projects, or inclement weather. Planned closures will be announced on the Refuge's homepage. Website updates relating to unanticipated weather closures cannot be guaranteed.

How much does it cost to enter the refuge?

The daily entrance fee to the Refuge is $3.00 per non-commercial vehicle. There are many pass options available to waive the entrance fee. Please follow this link, Entrance Fee, to learn more about the entrance fee and pass options for the Refuge. All revenues from entrance fees will be used to support recreation related expenses including: brochures, signage, facilities enhancement, trail/road maintenance, restoration associated with wildlife-dependent recreation and public safety.

What can I do at the refuge?

River 'S' Unit

  • Drive the Auto Tour Route - The auto tour route is a one-way 4.2-mile loop graveled road (the first mile of the road is a two-way) . It is open daily to vehicles during daylight hours. In addition to vehicles, it is open to foot traffic between May 1 and September 30 only.

    At times the auto tour route can be busy. Please be a courteous driver and use the turnouts provided to allow traffic to flow. Always observe the posted speed limit and all Refuge signs. The roadway is maintained to meet the standards for regular passenger vehicles. If you are unsure about current road conditions and have a large or oversized vehicle, please Contact Us for more information. Off-road or ATV driving is not permitted on the refuge.

  • Walk the Seasonal Trail - The Kiwa Trail is a 1.2-mile loop trail open May 1 through September 30. It is the only walking trail available on this unit. The path is compacted gravel accessible to wheelchairs and strollers. The trail passes through an understory of Oregon ash trees and between open wetland areas. Between May 1 and September 30 only, visitors may also walk the auto tour route.

  • Hunt Waterfowl - An area for waterfowl hunting (ducks, geese and coots) has been designated on this unit and is open by permit only during the regular state waterfowl hunt season. For more information, go to the Waterfowl Hunt Program section of this website. The refuge is not open to deer or any other type of hunting.

  • Fishing - On the River 'S' Unit, fishing is allowed only in Lake River and not in any of the refuge ponds, ditches, or sloughs. Visitors wishing to fish on this unit must park at the entrance parking lot and restroom area next to the visitor contact station then walk down the side of the levy to reach the banks of Lake River. There are no fishing piers or launch facilities for motorized or non-motorized boats located on this unit of the refuge. Frogging is not allowed anywhere on the refuge.

  • View Wildlife at an Observation Blind - An observation blind overlooking Rest Lake is located close to the half-way point on the auto tour route just before arriving at the Kiwa Trail parking lot. This shelter is covered by a stand of Oregon ash trees and has cut-out windows where spotting scopes and cameras can be set up for close up views of wildlife.

  • Other Visitor Facilities - Stop by the visitor contact station at the entrance and pick up a brochure, map or wildlife check list. Volunteers staff the station both during the week and on the weekends. If they are not there, pick up information from the dispenser boxes outside.

    There are two vault restrooms located at the entrance of the unit at the visitor contact station. An additional vault restroom is located at the observation blind. There are no drinking fountains or picnic areas available on the Refuge.

Carty Unit

Walk a Year-round Trail - The Carty Unit is open daily to foot traffic only during daylight hours. It is the location of the 2-mile Oaks to Wetlands loop trail. Although maintained, this trail is undeveloped. Many parts of the trail are uneven, rocky, steep, narrow, and may become slippery when wet. Sturdy shoes should be worn and caution should be used to avoid contacting poison oak on some parts of the trail.

Cathlapotle Plankhouse - Visit the Cathlapotle Plankhouse. The exterior of the plankhouse can be visited any day during daylight hours. Hours of operation are generally noon to 4:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays from March 29th to November 5th, dependant upon volunteer availability. Educational and group visits can be arranged at other times by contacting the Refuge office. For additional information about special events, project history, or plankhouse schedules, please follow this link: www.plankhouse.org.

Fishing - Fishing is allowed in the waters of the Carty Unit consistent with State fishing regulations. There are no piers or launch facilities for motorized or non-motorized boats on the refuge. Frogging is not allowed anywhere on the refuge.

Visitors fishing on this unit of the Refuge are reminded not to litter or leave fishing line or other materials behind. They are a hazard to wildlife. Fishermen should be careful to tread lightly on the Refuge and pack out what is brought in.
  • Visitor Facilities - Located near the parking lot is an information kiosk with a refuge map posted and information dispenser boxes.

    There are two vault restrooms located at the parking lot of the unit. None are located on the trail. There are no drinking fountains or picnic areas available on the Refuge.

What you should know when visiting the Refuge.

The following are regulations specific to the Refuge:

No Running, Jogging or Bikes- this activity is not wildlife-dependent and induces greater wildlife disturbance than wildlife observation at a walking pace.

No Pets - pet walking is not a wildlife-dependent activity and pets also induce greater wildlife disturbance. The use of retrievers is allowed for waterfowl hunting because they facilitate the locating and recovery of harvested birds.

No Collecting - enjoy viewing plants and animals in their natural habitat. Please leave natural items you discover on the Refuge behind for others to enjoy.

Seasonal Stay In Your Car Requirement - From October 1 to May 1, visitors to the Auto Tour Route are required to stay in their car other than at the entrance parking lot and observation blind parking lot. If all visitors respect this rule, wildlife disturbance will be reduced affording everyone a better wildlife viewing opportunity. Logic and safety should dictate appropriate behaviors! Standing on pick-up running boards, sitting in an open hatchback or trunk, standing in the back of pick-ups, using open car window as seats, wildlife viewing through open car doors, sitting on the roof, and standing in the sunroof all violate the spirit of the 'stay in your car' requirement!

Refuge Boundary:

The sign to the left defines the boundary of the Refuge. While it is the intent to accurately post the refuge’s boundary, much of the boundary borders sloughs, creeks, and the Columbia River. In select locations the boundary may be posted slightly inside the actual property line on higher ground to avoid flooding and bank erosion. Entering the Refuge from a boundary marked with this sign is considered illegal trespass.

Refuge Access:

The Refuge has officially designated public use access points to the Refuge. The designated public access points are the only legal access points for the public. The use of any other route to access the Refuge, even to access areas open to public use, constitutes illegal trespass. Boating of navigable water surrounding the refuge is common; however, accessing the refuge from these waters is not allowed beyond the refuge boundary.

River ‘S’ Unit Access:

Public access to all the public use facilities of the River ‘S’ Unit is allowed during posted daylight hours via the entrance road that connects to South Hillhurst Road.

Carty Unit Access:

Public access to all the public use facilities of the Carty Unit is allowed during posted daylight hours via the entrance road that connects to Main Avenue.

Ridgeport Dairy:

The only public access to the Ridgeport Dairy consists of the parking area at the Refuge boundary at the terminus of Lower River Road (a State Route). In 2005 approximately 1.25-miles of the road was closed by the State with signage and barriers due to erosion of the road into the Columbia River. This State closure eliminated access bordering the Ridgeport Dairy. Any access beyond the parking lot at the Refuge boundary occurs along sections of a State closed road or involves trespass past the Refuge’s posted boundary.

Last updated: November 12, 2013