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Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex

Warner Mountains + Modoc Plateau, California

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Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex

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  • Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge from the roadside.- Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex
  • Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge.- Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex
  • Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge.- Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex
  • Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge.- Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex
  • Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge. Mount Shasta (14,180') is on the horizon.- Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Great area for waterfowl birding. Deer abound. Realtively quiet. Posted auto tour route.
Cons: 
Duck hunting is allowed in season. The roads that cross the complex can be tricky to navigate.
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Region:
Warner Mountains + Modoc Plateau, CA
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Contributor

The Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex consists of Upper Klamath NWR, Klamath Marsh NWR, Tule Lake NWR, Lower Klamath NWR,  Clear Lake NWR, and Bear Valley NWR. Established in 1908, Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge was the first of its kind in the nation, another gift from President Roosevelt.

Glistening lakes, marshland and the call of a thousand geese echo over Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge and Tule Lake NWR in winter. The area is accessible by road from both southern Oregon and northern California. The initial section of Lower Klamath runs parallel to the highway until the turn-off signed for Lower Klamath Auto Tour Route. From here drive slowly along well maintained gravel roads with pull outs for stopping your vehicle for birding and photography. Slightly further along 161 is the turnoff to Hill Road where the Refuge Headquarters are located. This is a great place to gather information on recent bird sightings, auto tour routes, and a history of the area and its wildlife.

During the peak of winter migration there can be over a million birds here, a combination of ducks, geese, swans – greater white-fronted geese, Canada geese, pintails, tundra swans and many more. The sheer quantity of waterfowl coming and going is quite astounding: it's akin to standing on a busy runway. You can watch lines of geese that you can see a mile or so away arrive wave after wave into the lake and marsh, and the noise is spectacular.

This is also where bald eagles make their nesting grounds over the winter period in both Lower Klamath and Tule Lake. There can be over 500 bald eagles nesting here at the height of the nesting season, which can make spotting them in numbers a great possibility.

For those birders serious about their photography, there are also several photography blinds on the refuge that can be booked in advance through the refuge headquarters, but you do need to have an Annual Recreation Pass to do so (you can purchase one when you book). There are also blinds available for waterfowl hunting in season.

There are also some mammals in the scrub and woodland in the refuges, including mule deer, coyotes, badgers, beavers, muskrats. An elusive bobcat was spotted in early December 2014.

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(1 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(11 within a 30 mile radius)

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