Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge

Quick Facts

Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge

Washington

Map Directions

Things To Do

   

Overview

Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge is located along the northern coast of the Olympic Peninsula in Clallam County, Washington. Eelgrass beds and tide flats teem with migrating shorebirds in spring and fall; flocks of waterfowl find food and rest in these protected waters during the winter; eel grass beds also provide a nursery for young salmon and steelhead. The refuge currently consists of 636 acres, including a sand spit, second-class tidelands and bay, and a small forested upland area. Dungeness NWR boasts one of the world's longest natural sand spits, which softens the rough sea waves to form a quiet bay and harbor, gravel beaches, and tide flats. Dungeness Spit is one of only a few such geological formations in the world which was formed during the Vashon Glacial era ten to twenty thousand years ago.

Map of Dungeness NWR

Latitude, Longitude: 48.141332, -123.190534

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Activities

  • Bird Watching

    Dungeness NWR is recognized as an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society. The refuge is internationally significant because many of the birds that stop here breed as far north as Alaska and migrate as far south as South America. The Dungeness area is additionally important as a spring staging area (a place where large groups of birds stop to build up their fat reserves for migration) for black brant and other waterfowl. Canada, Mexico, and the United States have implemented international treaties to ensure that migratory birds are protected and managed on a continental basis.

  • Hiking

    No visit to the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge is complete without making the trek to the New Dungeness Lightstation (http://www.newdungenesslighthouse.com/). This is a 10 mile round trip hike, taking at least 4-6 hours to complete. Allow sufficient time so you may enjoy your refuge experience and not be rushed. Make sure that you check a tide chart upon setting out on your trek. During high tidal conditions it is passable, but you may have to climb over drift logs here and there. There are no restroom facilities available once you leave the parking area until you reach the lighstation, so plan accordingly. Daily tours of the lightstation are offered by volunteer lightstation keepers of the New Dungeness Light Station Association.

    Remember to bring appropriate clothing, which should include sturdy shoes and a wind breaker or rain jacket, depending on the weather.

    Please stay on the trails, and the bluff areas are extremely hazardous due to their instability, and are closed to the public.

Seasonality/Weather

The area where Dungeness NWR is located, northeast of the Olympic Mountains on the Strait of San Juan de Fuca, has a pleasant and temperate climate. The refuge lies in a rainshadow northeast of the Olympic Mountains, and it is the driest area in western Washington. Average annual rainfall and snowfall are 16.5 and 3.5 inches, respectively. Most precipitation occurs from November to January. The area generally receives more sunshine and less cloudiness than other areas near Puget Sound. Freezing is uncommon. Average temperatures range from a low of 30.9ºF in the winter to 71.9ºF in the summer. During the latter half of the summer and early fall, fog banks over the Pacific Ocean and Strait of Juan de Fuca result in considerable fog and morning cloudiness in the lower elevations. The prevailing winds are south to southeast in winter and west to northwest in the summer. Strong winds of up to 60 mph are quite common in the Strait.

Directions

Driving

The refuge is located at the end of Voice of America Road accessed through the Dungeness Recreation Area. From Highway 101, take Kitchen-Dick Road north. Follow the road as it dog-legs to the east (right) and becomes Lotzgesell Road. You'll see immediately on your left the entrance to the Dungeness Recreation Area and Dungeness NWR.

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