Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

How does an incredibly pleasant afternoon where you can see the ocean, the ocean floor, a forest trail with pond life, a huge array of bird life, plus animals from muskrats to reptiles sound? Make it a very exciting walk for kids yet an easy one for the elderly members of the family. There’s a gift shop, too, of course. And all of it for three bucks? Yep we’re talking about Nisqually National Park in Washington State.

Also known as the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually Wildlife Area this place is a wonderful surprise that does not get the publicity it deserves. You’ll see a little brown sign advertising the park along Interstate I-5 between Olympia and Fort Lewis. You can actually see the park from the highway it is so close. Get off there and take a short drive to the park entrance. Put your three bucks in the drop box and cross a small bridge into a natural wonderland. You can stop at the gift and book shop before you head out but be sure to gaze out over the marsh first. (I also recommend a stop at the latrine – it’s a long boardwalk.) From there stroll the forest path along the waterway until you reach the boardwalk. Here you’ll see the Nisqually River as it meets Puget Sound.

Bird lovers will be in heaven. But there is a plethora of other land dwelling mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. Take a closer look at the mud flats and you’ll see an extraordinary number of sea creatures as well. Bring a camera! A pair of binoculars is a good idea, too.

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