Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge River S Unit

The Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge South Unit located just south of downtown Ridgefield includes a driving tour and two trails.  Keep in mind that the refuge is primarily managed for the benefit of wildlife, so some areas are closed to access all year, and other areas are closed during certain seasons.

The main attraction for visiting the South Unit is the 4.2 mile driving tour. When you stop at the welcome center to make payment, it’s worthwhile to pick up one of the audio CDs at the information kiosk, and play the CD in your car while driving the route.  I also suggest using an electric vehicle and driving very slowly.  Allow yourself a couple hours to make the tour, so that you have time to stop and watch.

During May to September you can walk the route.  Note that Bicycles, jogging, pets and horse riding are not allowed in the refuge as these can disrupt the wildlife.

There are two places on the drive to stop and get out of your car.  The first is a short walk to a viewing blind, where you can observe wildlife in the neighboring grasslands.  I was there last spring and was able to watch the sparrows up close that were nesting in the bird blind.  Last time I visited there, a couple deer seemed to treat it as an opportunity to observe the humans.

The second stop (open May 1 to September 30) is the Kiwa Lake Trail.  This trail loops about a mile and a quarter through a grassy wetland giving you opportunity to observe the birds and enjoy nature.  This area is also open to water fowl hunting during hunting season.

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