Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge
Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge is managed as part of the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex. At just 367 acres, the Salinas River NWR boasts a colorful mosaic of coastal dunes, beaches, salt marshes, saline ponds, grasslands, and riparian habitats. 

The refuge was initially established in 1973 because of its prime location along the Pacific Flyway.  During the spring and fall migrations, thousands of birds traveling along the Pacific Flyway flock to the refuge, seeking shelter and food in one of the few remaining wetlands along the central California coast.  Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge also protects several threatened and endangered species, including Western snowy plover, Smith’s blue butterfly, and Monterey spineflower.

Visitor Activities

  • Trails
    • The River Trail starts to the right of the parking area, heads past a kiosk that provides waterfowl hunting information and regulations, and continues east to the Salinas River. The trail then leads hikers north west along the edge of the river through uplands to a salt marsh where it turns south west to join the Beach Trail. To finish the 1.2 mile loop, turn left at the Beach Trail and walk through the grassland until you reach the parking lot. 
    • The Beach Trail is a spur trail off of the River Trail. Start to the left of the parking lot and walk west through grassland until you reach the Beach Trail. Turn left onto the Beach Trail. On your hike to the ocean, you will pass salt marsh, a saline pond, vegetated backdunes and then sandy foredunes that open onto sandy beach. The sandy trail is 1.6 miles round trip.
  • Wildlife Viewing & Photography
    • Wildlife observation and photography are encouraged on refuge trails and along the beach during daylight hours. Hundreds of species of plants, birds, and mammals are found on Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge.  Each season brings a different cast of characters. Spring and fall are the best times to view and photograph wildlife, and the spring brings spectacular wildflower blooms in the dunes. Please stay on the trails at all times. 
  • Interpretation
    • A introductory kiosk with interpretive signs have been place at the trailhead and wayside exhibits are available on the Beach and River Trails.
  • Waterfowl Hunting
    • Hunting is an important wildlife management tool that we recognize as a healthy, traditional outdoor pastime, deeply rooted in America’s heritage. Hunting programs can promote understanding and appreciation of natural resources and their management on lands and waters in the Refuge System. Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge offers waterfowl hunting in the fall and early winter.
  • Fishing
    • The Salinas River NWR provides access to surf fishing on the beach. Some commonly caught fish include striped bass and surfperch. There is no fishing on the Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge, including the saline pond and the Salinas River. 

Contact Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge

Diane Kodama
1 Marshlands Rd.
Fremont, California  94555
Phone: 510-792-0222


Service Area

Services provided in:
  • Monterey County, California

To request additions or corrections to this entry email the Administrator