2008 Photo Contest
Mission & Goals
Bird Field Guides
Auto Tour Guide
Weekly Bird Sightings
Wildlife Photo Gallery
Directions to the Refuge
Schedule of Events
Walks * Tours * Talks
Friends of The Ridgefield
National Wildlife Refuge
P.O. Box 1022
Ridgefield, WA 98642
||| Cathlapotle Plankhouse |||
Bird Field Guides
||| Refuge Map |||
Auto Tour Guide |||
Educator's Guide ||| Weekly
Bird Sightings |||
Photo Gallery ||| Directions
to the Refuge |||
National Wildlife Refuge
- Ridgefield NWR has a total of 5,150 acres of marshes, grasslands,
and woodlands. Preservation of the natural Columbia River floodplain
is the management objective of the Carty (2-mile self guided hiking
trail) Roth and Ridgeport Dairy units. The River 'S' (4.2 mile
auto tour route and 1.2 mile seasonal hiking trail) and Bachelor
Island units are managed to maximize habitat for waterfowl and
other wetland wildlife.
- The refuge was established (along with 3 other refuges in the
Willamette Valley of Oregon) in 1965, in response to a need to
establish vital habitat for wintering waterfowl with an emphasis
on the dusky Canada goose whose nesting areas in Alaska were severly
impacted by the violent earthquake of 1964.
- Stately sandhill cranes, shorebirds, and a great variety of
songbirds stop at the refuge during spring and fall migrations.
Some bird species such as mallards, great blue herons, and red-tailed
hawks are year-round residents that nest on the Refuge. Black-tailed
deer are the largest mammal on the refuge. Coyote, raccoon, skunk,
beaver, river otter, and brush rabbits can also be seen on the
National Wildlife Refuge Complex
The Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Complex is part of the
National Wildlife Refuge System managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service. There are more than 540 refuges nationwide totaling over
94 million acres of land managed specifically for the conservation
of fish and wildlife and their habitats. Refuges serve to protect
America's natural and cultural heritage for all people and for
The Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Complex is
headquartered in Ridgefield, Washington, and oversees the management
of four refuges in the southwestern part of the state including: Ridgefield
NWR and three refuges in the Columbia River Gorge - Franz Lake, Pierce,
and Steigerwald Lake NWR. Visit the US Fish and Wildlife Service website
to learn more about these five refuges including recreational and
volunteer opportunities and environmental education programs.
River 'S' Unit - 'RVS'
- There is a daily fee of $3.00 per passenger vehicle or motorcycle
to enter the Carty and River "S" units. Please note that
seasonal hiking restrictions apply on the River "S" unit
beyond the entrance to the Refuge. A Ridgefield NWR specific pass,
valid for one year from the date of issue, may be purchased for $15.00
at the Refuge office at 28908 NW Main Ave. in Ridgefield.
- Special rates are charged to commercial groups utilizing the Refuge
for commercial tours. For detailed information about the Refuge entrance
and recreation fees please click here (this link will take you to
the US Fish and Wildlife website for Ridgefield NWR), Entrance
and Recreation Fees.
- An important feature of Ridgefield's recreation and entrance
fee program allows 100% of the funds collected to remain at the Refuge
to be used for recreation related expenses including brochures, signs,
facilities enhancement, trail/road maintenance, restoration associated
with wildlife-dependent recreation, and public safety.
- Periodically, the refuge may be closed for scheduled maintenance
or construction projects, or because weather conditions have caused
refuge trails or the auto tour route to be unsafe for visitors.
Directions to the River 'S' Unit - From I-5, take Exit 14,
on Pioneer Street, go 3 miles west into the town of Ridgefield and
take a left on S. 9th Avenue or Hillhurst Road. The refuge entrance
road is located .7 miles up the hill on the right side of the road.
'RVS' - Drive the Auto Tour Route -
auto tour route is a one-way 4.2-mile loop gravel road (the first
mile of the road is two-way). It is open daily to vehicles during
daylight hours. In addition to vehicles, the auto tour route is
open to foot traffic between May 1 and September 30.
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 and for school buses and RV's. If you are
unsure about current road conditions and have a large or oversized
vehicle, please contact
the Refuge for more information. Bicycles, off-road
vehicles, and ATV driving are not permitted on the Refuge.
'RVS' - 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 and 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, visitors may also
walk the auto tour route.
'RVS' - 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 page on the US Fish and Wildlife website.
The Refuge is not open to deer or any other type of hunting.
'RVS' - Fishing - On this Refuge 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 in
the entrance fee parking lot near the restroom area and 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.
'RVS' - 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.
'RVS' - 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 picnic areas or drinking
fountains available on the refuge.
Carty Unit - 'CAR'
- 'CAR' - Directions - From I-5, take Exit 14, on Pioneer
Street go west into the town of Ridgefield until Pioneer Street 'T's'
with Main Avenue. Take a right turn on Main Avenue and proceed north
for 1 mile. The refuge entrance road is located on the left side of
- 'CAR' - Walk a Year-round Trail - The Carty Unit is open
daily to foot traffic only during daylight hours. Here you can hike
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.
- 'CAR' - Visit a Chinookan Plankhouse - The Cathlapotle
Plankhouse is generally open to the public from noon - 4:00 on Friday,
Saturday, and Sunday during spring and summer months. It is staffed
with volunteer docents who will describe the cultural history of the
Chinookan peoples who used the Refuge and tell stories about the construction
project that built the plankhouse. Visit the plankhouse website at
www.plankhouse.org to learn
- 'CAR' - Fishing - Fishing is allowed in wetland areas located
along the Oaks to Wetlands trail and in Gee Creek. 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.
- 'CAR' - Visitor Facilities - Located near the parking lot
is a kiosk with Refuge maps and brochures and up-to-date information
on events and the Cathlapotle Plankhouse.
There are two vault restrooms located in the parking lot of the
Carty unit. There are no restrooms, drinking fountains, or picnic
areas on the Refuge.
- 'CAR' - Proposed Refuge Headquarters and Visitor Contact Station
- The Carty Unit is the future site of the Ridgefield NWR headquarters
and visitor contact station. Proposed facilities include a new parking
area, information kiosk, visitor contact station, classrooms, and
the headquarters office for the Refuge complex. In addition, there
are plans to build an outdoor education and wildlife observation shelter,
and provide accessible trail and outdoor interpretive facilities.
Ridgeport Dairy Unit
Access by foot, bicycle, boat, or motorized vehicles onto Refuge
property is not allowed on the Ridgeport Dairy Unit.
While there is no access to the Ridgeport Dairy
Unit vehicles may drive to the end of Lower River Road (through
the Port of Vancouver) where there is a parking area available at
the south boundary of the Refuge for wildlife observation and photographic
There is no hunting, fishing, or visitor facilities
on the Ridgeport Dairy Unit. The nearest bathroom is a vault toilet
at the Shillapoo State Wildlife Area located 3 miles south of the
Refuge on Lower River Road.. Picnic areas are available nearby at
Vancouver Lake County Park.
Refuge Rules and Regulations
Bicycling, horseback riding,
ATV's, and dogs are not allowed on any part of the Refuge. Refer
to refuge signs and publications, or contact the refuge manager
about current refuge regulations.
- Dogs and other pets are not allowed on the refuge since they are
considered to be predators and a threat to most wildlife. Dogs and
other pets brought to the Refuge for a drive on the auto tour route
must remain inside the vehicle while on the Refuge and should not
be allowed to disturb or harass wildlife.
Releasing unwanted pets and 'rescued' animals onto the refuge is
not allowed and is considered a health risk or threat to wildlife
and their habitats. Please contact the Refuge office if you need
assistance with these matters.
Horseback riding, bicycling, jogging, camping, and any other uses
not specifically mentioned are not allowed on the Refuge. Why? These
uses are considered non-wildlife dependent and non-priority public
uses for National Wildlife Refuges. The purpose of refuges is to
provide safe habitat for wildlife making them different from parks
and other recreational areas. Public uses must be compatible with
the purposes of the refuge. Many refuges are great places to experience
the outdoors, but wildlife comes first.
Remember that all things on the Refuge are protected from the tiniest
of feathers to the wildflowers, rocks, plants, animals, and other
'collectibles'. Removing these items and others such as archaeological
artifacts is not allowed and is considered very serious. Please
take only photos and memories with you.