The Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge is the Nation’s first waterfowl refuge. Established in 1908 under President Theodore Roosevelt it encompasses over 40,000 acres. The 10 mile drive around the refuge is a bird watcher’s paradise. The species visible varies throughout the year, as some of the birds are migratory.
Take the Loop Drive – Slowly
The loop drive through the refuge is a bit puzzling on the first trip. When I started the loop many of the areas that would be flooded during the rainy season were pretty dry. The water in the roadside canals was stagnant and I was getting a bit disappointed. I was thinking ‘my gosh this drought in California is awful’. But I stuck it out. Dusty, oh my was it dusty.
I kept rolling through the park rolling and rolling and finally I came to a stand of cottonwood trees. The stand of trees is a sign for me to stop and be quiet and wait patiently. The payoff is coming. Then there was water and then there were birds and birds and birds and birds it was marvelous.
Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge Best Viewing Times
Best viewing is always early and late in the day, however there is always some degree of action throughout the day. On my last trip, I came up on a raptor having lunch and he flew directly in front of my windshield to a tree on the opposite side of the road. Wonderful. Then as I was approaching the tree where he was dining, he flew back in front of me and flew off into the reeds. It was a falcon and I got such a beautiful view it was breathtaking.
This place is always worth the drive, and if it’s dry, or you get the wrong season there will always be some action. Most noteworthy are Bald Eagles in addition to the Golden Eagles, American White Pelicans and over 200 other bird types that are resident at various times of the year. The Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge is mind boggling today, and to think of it in in 1908, when it was founded, is indeed inspiring. Ah the imagination. Where there’s water there will be life. Oh what an incredible slice of life.