Nisqually Wildlife Refuge – Beauty Year Round!

IMG_1164 If you have never taken the time to visit the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge you are missing out!  The refuge sits right off of I-5 and is worth the stop.  Nisqually is a 15 minute drive north of Olympia or 45 minutes south of Tacoma in Washington.  (Map to the refuge)

Saturday was a clear, cold day and with the sun out, we decided to see what wildlife we could find.  We bundled up, packed our camera’s and were on our way.

There are several walking trails, along with the Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail.  We decided to walk along the boardwalk since we had never gone out that far before.

Be sure to keep your eyes on the lookout for the wildlife.   In our two hours out at the refuge we saw some amazing birds.  My husband recently purchased a new camera lens and I must give him credit for all the up-close photos of the birds.  He took some amazing shots as you will see.

Are you ready to go along with us on our walk?

The boardwalks in the forested area were pretty slick because of the cold temps we have been having.  I noticed sand had been added to some of the more populated trails.

Emily noticed this woodpecker within just a few minutes of us getting on the trail.

nisqually1 As we headed out to the boardwalk we saw these cute little ducks…I think they were trying to ice skate!

IMG_1148 I always notice the beauty of the landscape so took this shot, admiring the browns of the season.

IMG_1144 We saw a couple Blue Herons.  One we were very close to and the kids were watching him as he was looking for food.  He walked very slowly, would stop and listen and then go in for the worms.  We stood and watched him quite awhile.

nisqually2 On our way back we saw some of the same wildlife but also a few new birds.

This hawk came swooping down and landed on a stump.  It had found some food and was enjoying that.

nisqually5 Brad noticed this cute little squirrel sitting in the tree.

nisqually3 Oh and the view we had of Mt. Rainier…gorgeous!

nisqually6 I have a thing for barns and took this picture of the twin barns on the property…and I have to say I love this photo!

IMG_1162 We saw a ton of geese flying around and as we were heading to our car, we were amazed at a bunch of them squawking.

nisqually7 As we were heading out of the refuge, Scott said he wished he could have gotten a better shot at the bald eagles (there were two we saw at a distance).  As we came around the corner there was one sitting in a tree so he grabbed his camera and took a couple of shots before it flew away.

nisqually4 Once we got home, we downloaded all our pictures and we had some great ones!

So if you are looking for something to do and live in the South Sound, stop by and check it out.   It will cost $3 for parking,  just look for the drop box.  There are several picnic tables to enjoy your lunch or to take a rest from your walk.   This definitely is a family friendly outing.  Just remind the kids to be quiet so the birds won’t scatter from the loud voices.

Items you may want to bring:

Camera (bring them for the kids too!)

IMG_1149 Binoculars

Notebook to write down or sketch the birds/animals you see

Bird Book (there are signs along the trails for the most common birds seen)


If you do head to the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge, I would love to hear about your trip and what birds and animals you saw.



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  1. says

    When I lived in the Seattle area, Nisqually was one of my most favorites places to spend time. I visited many times and always saw amazing wildlife. I’m so happy to hear that the refuge is still there … and can’t wait to see it when I next visit Seattle. Thanks for the wonderful photos!

    • says

      We had so much fun taking pictures on our walk. They have really added on and the boardwalk is gorgeous…it goes on forever! Definitely check it when you you are back here.

    • says

      You will have to Alexis! It is so much fun and lots to look at. We just heard the snowy owls are out there somewhere. The website has all the animals to look for. They have an interpretive center and gift shop too. You will have to let me know if you go…I would try and meet you out there! We are due to meet right? :)

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