Plan Your Visit

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Named for the famed explorers, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, the landscape and rich wildlife of this Refuge have changed very little in the past 200 years. Modern-day explorers visit this refuge to experience its wilderness qualities and enjoy the abundant wildlife resources. Native species of migratory birds, wild salmon, and other native plants and animals thrive where natural processes take precedence within the varied habitats of Sitka spruce swamps, riparian forest, tidal marshes, mudflats, and sand bars typical of the Columbia River estuary.

Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge includes approximately 20 islands stretching over 27 miles (43.5 km) of the Columbia River, from the mouth upstream nearly to Skamakowa, WA. There are no public facilities, restrooms or potable water on refuge islands.Public entry on refuge islands is limited to foot travel only.

Refuge lands are open daily from dawn to dusk. Additional information about the refuge is available at the headquarters for Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for the Columbian White-tailed Deer. The refuge offices are located in Washington on state highway 4 between Cathlamet and Skamokawa. Refuge headquarters hours are 7:30 am – 4 pm Mondays through Fridays, excluding Federal holidays. No dogs are allowed on the refuge except those used while hunting waterfowl.

Collecting and removing archeological or historic objects is prohibited, as well as removing any natural material such as plants, fungi,rocks, or antlers. Possession of firearms is prohibited except during the waterfowl hunting season in areas open to hunting. In Oregon, there are a few small towns located along state highway 30 and larger lodging and retail facilities available in Astoria. In Washington, gasoline, grocery stores, restaurants, and lodging are located in Cathlamet and Skamokawa.

Directions to Headquarters

From I-5, take the Longview exit. Proceed west on Highway 4 to Cathlamet, WA. Continue on Highway 4 approximately 1 mile past Cathlamet to Steamboat Slough Road which is just west of the Elochoman River bridge. Turn left on Steamboat Slough Road. Refuge Headquarters, located with the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for the Columbian White-tailed Deer offices, is approximately 1/4 mile farther, on the right.

Download a Refuge map (441 KB).

Download a PDF copy of the refuge Brochure (1.97 MB).


The islands of the Columbia River estuary are accessible only by boat. Tidal flows and tide fluctuations, strong winds and wake from ships in the navigation channel can make boating difficult and sometimes dangerous. Deep channels separate most of the islands at high tide, but tide tables and navigation charts should be consulted to avoid grounding on sandbars. If your boat becomes stuck in the mud, waiting for the next high tide to float it free may be your best alternative. In Washington, launch facilities are available at Skamokawa Vista Park, Cathlamet Marina, and a State boat launch between Cathlamet and Skamokawa. Kayaks or canoes can be rented in Skamokawa. In Oregon, boats may be launched at John Day Point or Aldrich Point.

Quiet craft, such as kayaks or canoes, allow visitors to approach wildlife more easily than motorboats. Although wildlife often disappears when you arrive, they may return if you are still and drift quietly. When birds or animals are not close, binoculars and telephoto lenses will help get a better look or photograph. Guidebooks can help in identifying particular species. Be sure to carry enough drinking water. Neither camping nor fires are permitted on the refuge.


Due to the marshy nature of the islands, foot travel is difficult and not recommended.


Pets are prohibited on the refuge except dogs used while hunting waterfowl.