The San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge protects a rich diversity of endangered, threatened, migratory, and native species and their habitats in the midst of a highly urbanized coastal environment. The Refuge encompasses approximately 2,620 acres of land and water in and around San Diego Bay. The Refuge consists of the Sweetwater Marsh and South San Diego Bay Units. What remains of San Diego Bay’s historic coastal salt marsh and intertidal mudflat habitat is preserved within these two Refuge Units.
A trail that leads to the native pollinator garden as written on an overarching metal arch above the trail. Next to this is a shuttle bus.
Limited Access at Sweetwater Marsh Unit

There is limited access at the Sweetwater Marsh Unit of the San Diego Bay NWR. Refuge visitors can catch a free shuttle from the Living Coast Discovery Center to access refuge trails. Check the LCDC website for days and times when the service is available. When the Center is closed, we recommend taking a walk on the north end of 13th or 10th streets in Imperial Beach or at Tijuana Estuary.

 

Visit Us

This refuge has two distinct areas you can enjoy some of the most beautiful and unique wildlife in San Diego Bay. Each area is connected by the Bayshore Bikeway. Whether you're riding your bike, the bus, or driving, accessing the refuge is easy. You just have to know where to go!

Location and Contact Information

      CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) NOTICE

      Although most refuge lands and outdoor spaces have remained open for the public to enjoy, we ask that you recreate responsibly.

      • Check alerts and local conditions on this website and call ahead for current information. Operations vary based on local public health conditions.
      • Consistent with CDC recommendations, all visitors (age 2 and older), who are fully vaccinated are required to wear a mask inside of federal buildings in areas of substantial or high community transmission. All visitors who are not fully vaccinated must continue to wear masks indoors and in crowded outdoor spaces.
      • Most importantly, stay home if you feel sick and continue to watch for symptoms of COVID-19 and follow CDC guidance on how to protect yourself and others.

      About Us

      The San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge protects a rich diversity of endangered, threatened, migratory, and native species and their habitats in the midst of a highly urbanized coastal environment. The Refuge is situated at the south end of San Diego Bay and is surrounded by the cities of National City, Chula Vista, San Diego, Imperial Beach, and Coronado. Established to protect endangered and threatened species, the Refuge encompasses approximately 2,620 acres of land and water in and around San Diego Bay.

      Tours

      Monthly tours of the South San Diego Bay refuge are available to the public as well as tours during the wintertime led by the San Diego Audubon Society. Email sdaudubon@sandiegoaudubon.org for more information.

      What We Do

      To help plants and wildlife, refuge staff use a variety of habitat management techniques to maintain, recover or enhance plant and wildlife values. Refuge staff carefully considers any management techniques and employ them in varying degrees according to the situation. 

      Our Species

      The San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge was established to protect wildlife species that were threatened and endangered, and provide exclusive habitat just for them. Sweetwater Marsh provides habitat for four endangered or threatened species, and over 200 species of birds have been seen here. The Refuge is broken up into two distinct areas: the Sweetwater Marsh Unit and the South San Diego Bay Unit.

      Projects and Research

      Wildlife and habitat management programs focus on the recovery of the endangered California least tern, endangered light-footed Ridgway’s rail, threatened western snowy plover, and the endangered salt marsh salt marsh
      Salt marshes are found in tidal areas near the coast, where freshwater mixes with saltwater.

      Learn more about salt marsh
      bird's beak plant.