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Plan a visit to Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

Plan a visit to Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge


There’s this beautiful refuge right between Tacoma and Olympia, where the freshwater of the Nisqually River combines with the saltwater of Puget Sound and provides nutrients for wildlife. It’s conveniently located right off I-5 and you could easily spend half a day or 30 minutes there.

My family really enjoys being out in nature, we’ve visited Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge during every season and it does not disappoint. 

All year long you’ll see wildlife, have beautiful photo opportunities, see nature’s color change during fall and spring and maybe have some snow during winter. Several miles of hiking trails and the best views for looking for wildlife from birds to whale watching. Trails have easy access for wheelchairs or strollers, multiple observation points and free to use telescopes. Fishing and hunting is permitted but read all about the rules online. Bring some food for a picnic, there are a couple picnic tables near the barns or benches throughout the trails.

Our trip this summer we had an amazing time spotting wildlife; we saw birds, frogs, a couple Eagles, a deer walked right next to us, and our favorite was seeing a skunk. Mason and my niece were very excited about it.

The Visitor Center includes The Nature Shop, an information desk, a view of the freshwater marsh, and interpretive exhibits. It is open Wednesday through Sunday, 9:00a.m. to 4:00p.m, but closed on major holidays including Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. 

The Refuge trails are open everyday for wildlife viewing and nature photography from sunrise to sunset. Please note that all pets, including dogs, are not allowed at the Refuge.  All activities on a wildlife refuge must be wildlife-dependent, so jogging, bicycling, ball sports and similar activities are, like dogs, not allowed.

Many visitors, especially birders and boaters, have found that it is best to plan a visit to the Refuge according to the tides.  The highest concentrations of the estuarine bird species will be most visible within two hours of high tide. Tide Charts 

Daily fee is $3.00 per four adults. An Interagency Annual Pass (old Golden Eagle), Senior Pass (old Golden Age), or Access Passport, Federal Duck Stamp, or an Annual Refuge Pass will admit the pass holder and 3 additional adults (over age 16).  Children 16 and under enter free.


Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is located between Tacoma and Olympia and is a great spot to watch for wildlife, take beautiful photographs and so much more.


Cassandra D

Thursday 30th of August 2018

I would love to visit.