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Washington > Washington National Wildlife Refuges and Preserves > Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge
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Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge

Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge
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General Information

Description - Grays Harbor NWR is one of four major staging areas for shorebirds in North America. Up to one million shorebirds gather, or stage, here in spring to store up fat reserves and rest for the nonstop flight to their northern breeding grounds. This is one of the largest concentration of shorebirds on the west coast, south of Alaska.

Attractions - The refuge has been designated as a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve. An Annual Shorebird Festival is held in late April, while the rest of the year offers great shorebird viewing. The best sightings occurs in the hour before and the hour after high tide. Of the two dozen species of shorebirds that use this area five of the most abundant are the western sandpiper, dunlin, shortbilled and longbilled dowitchers, and semipalmated plover. Western sandpipers compose 85% of the shorebirds present in the spring.

Recreation - Grays Harbor NWR offers many shorebird viewing opportunities as well as walking trails and boardwalks around the refuge.

Climate - The climate of Washington varies within each region. The Cascades split the state and alter the weather patterns. The mountains receive large amounts of wet, heavy snow from October through May. These peaks remain snow covered throughout the year. The terrain east of the mountains receives approximately 12 inches of rainfall per year, generally much less than west of the mountains. Since the area east of the mountains is landlocked, temperatures in this region are lower during the winter months. Frequent winds coming down from the mountains also contribute to the low temperatures of eastern Washington.

Due to the coastal geography, western Washington is primarily temperate. The proximity to the ocean stabilizes the climate, making extreme temperatures very rare. The area receives large amounts of precipitation from Pacific rain and snow storms.

Location - Grays Harbor NWR is located at the western city limits of Hoquiam, Washington. Take State Highway 109 to Paulson Road, turn south, then west to parking areas adjacent to Bowerman Field airport.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: Cathy Crandall (Beaverton, OR)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Timing is everything! On April 19, we saw maybe a dozen shorebirds. On April 27, we saw thousands! The Refuge does counts around this time (it's actually someone who comes over from Nisqually) so if you want to know if the shorebirds have arrived, you can call ahead. Also, the tide pushes the birds close to land, so go as close to the time of high tide as possible.

Filed By: Daniel Stevens (Olympia, WA)
Number of People Encountered: 50+ ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: My wife and I just participated as volunteers in the Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival. What a great opportunity to view the annual shorebird migration and enjoy the festival events provided at the Festival headquarters! We watched the shorebirds as they swooped and turned in the tens of thousands out at the Refuge (take advantage of the free shuttle instead of trying to find your own parking), enjoyed the student art on display from the Poster Contest, wandered around the "Birder's Bazaar" and spoke with many of the vendors and exhibitors there, and even got our faces painted at the children's Fun Fair (we're still kids at heart). There were also field trips, lectures, and bird ID classes offered which we just couldn't find the time to fit in. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys bird watching or who enjoys the coastal city setting. The 2009 Shorebird Festival will be April 24-26 at Hoquiam High School, and we'll certainly be heading back.

More Information

Contact Information:
Grays Harbor NWR, c/o Nisqually NWR Complex, 100 Brown Farm Rd. , Olympia, WA, 98516-2302, Phone: 360-753-9467
, willard_b_hesselbart@fws.gov

Additional Information:
Seattle Area/Volcano Country - This is Volcano Country, home of three volcanoes and a gorge, all in remarkably close proximity to urban centers, from Portland to Puget Sound. This region includes the Seattle and Tacoma metropolitan areas as well as Vancouver, Washington.
Washington National Wildlife Refuges and Preserves - Washington's National Wildlife Refuges are found throughout the state. There are a total of eleven refuges in Washington.


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