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Members' Favorite Wildlife Refuges in the West

Via readers share their favorite places for viewing wildlife. 

By
Via Readers
an american avocet at Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge, picture
Photo credit
Photo: Courtesy Dave Menke/USFWS
Photo caption
An American Avocet at Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

"From Las Vegas, head north to the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, the largest refuge system in the lower 48. Take in more than 320 species of birds, a new visitor center, and accessible trails." —Joan Paye

"At Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge, southwest of Salt Lake City, you could see swans, several duck species, and Canada geese. You might also spot cougars, coyotes, and other game, or get glimpses of a herd of wild horses." —Jeannie Matteson

"Southeast of Elko, Nevada, lies a wildlife oasis in the high desert: Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge. While it can be tough to get there, you’ll be awestruck by birds raising their young in its pristine marshes." —Paul McKim

"Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge in Willows, Calif., is like waterfowl reality TV. On the six-mile drive- through tour you can watch as thousands of birds squabble over food, mates, and territory. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, the sky blackens as hundreds take flight in unison."—Cindy Ranzenberger

"In California's San Joaquin Valley, we have multiple wildlife refuges close by. My favorite is the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge west of Merced, where nearly 28,000 acres provide wintering grounds for migratory waterfowl. A small slough offers quiet, shady spots for anglers, and the beautiful visitor center features wildlife exhibits and a vantage into the tule elk enclosure."—Sharon Boyce

“My vote goes to Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge in California near the Oregon border. You can see a range of birds, and the lake is expansive. The place feels like a hidden gem for a city slicker like me.” —Linda Asato

"We often visit Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge, west of Salem, Oregon. The many types of birds that come to the wetlands are amazing, but the things that make this one our pick are the woodland birds, all the other wildlife, and the beautiful scenery." —Ed O'Neil

"I love the elk refuge at the Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area between Portland and Astoria, Oregon. The herds are huge, and it's such a gorgeous site, majestic and serene."—Donna Hafdahl

"Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area is an extraordinary area south of Boise. Eagles and falcons—one of the densest raptor populations in the world—nest in the cliffs. The setting is spectacular, and you can find prehistoric pictographs along the river." —Judy Austin

"Just over the Washington border from Portland, the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge is magical year-round: stately white oaks, trumpeter swans, wapato wetlands, an original American Indian cedar plank house, and a wonderful trail." —Laura Dickinson

"After more than a decade of weekly visits, I still look forward to hikes at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge southwest of Portland. Among its delights: eagles feeding their chicks, hummingbirds building nests, coyotes, and deer. Well-maintained trails are friendly to wheelchairs and strollers." —Dianne Gorveatt

This article was first published in Spring 2017. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.