Originally established as a refuge for a subspecies of Canada goose, Southwest Washington’s Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge has proven to be a haven for many other species as well. With its many habitats, including wetlands, grasslands, riparian corridors, oak groves and upland forests, a variety of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians thrive on this 5,300-acre swath of land on the lower Columbia River.
The refuge is divided into five sections, three restricted from human visitation and two open to the public. Visitors can enjoy the wildlands on foot on the refuge’s trails or remain in their vehicle on the refuge’s auto-tour route.
In addition to wildlife viewing, the refuge contains the most intact archaeological site on the lower Columbia River with evidence of at least 2,300 years of continuous human occupation. Visitors can learn all about the findings at the on-site Cathlapotle Plankhouse, open to visitors on spring and summer weekends.
The Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge is an all-season destination for wildlife and humans seeking to observe and photograph them. Spring brings songbird migrations, and in the summer the refuge becomes a breeding ground and nursery for many species of duck and geese. Winter brings large numbers of migrating ducks, geese, swans and other birds that use the refuge as resting grounds.
Find more about visiting the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge at fws.gov/refuge/Ridgefield. The refuge is located a short distance west of I-5 about 15 miles north of Vancouver, Washington. For information about visiting Vancouver, go to