Making the outdoors accessible to all
At the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), we’re committed to providing opportunities for everyone to enjoy a Life Outdoors. We actively manage more than one million acres of publicly owned land and more than 500 water access areas across the state that offer a variety of facilities that are accessible for people with disabilities.
Whether you’re looking for fishing, hunting, or wildlife viewing opportunities, our website offers many tools to find ADA-accessible facilities to enjoy the outdoors. WDFW-managed lands with ADA facilities include water access areas and wildlife areas. Our website also has a list of fishing piers that you can filter by county and availability of ADA-accessible facilities.
Find out more about what we’re doing to promote access to the outdoors by visiting our Diversity, Civil Rights, and Accessibility webpage.
Water access areas
Many WDFW water access areas throughout Washington have ADA-accessible facilities, including boat launches and docks, parking, and restrooms. You can search on WDFW’s water access areas webpage by county and facility type to find accessible amenities near you.
For example, to find out if there is a boating access area with ADA-accessible parking, bathroom, and boat launch in Clallam County, do a quick search and it will show that Lake Sutherland and the Sol Duc River Salmon Hatchery both have what you are looking for.
If any water access areas meet the criteria selected, the facilities will be listed along with links to water access area webpages. Some webpages, but not all, will have photos to provide additional information on the facilities available.
Public fishing piers
Numerous public fishing piers in Washington are ADA accessible.
To search for piers with accessible facilities, start on the public fishing piers webpage, choose what county you want to fish in, select the ADA access box and any other search options that are important to your fishing trip, and a list of piers that fit your search will come up.
We manage 33 wildlife areas throughout the state, which are key parts of the Department’s conservation efforts. Most wildlife areas offer public access, but improvements and facilities vary by location with some wildlife areas having no facilities. You can explore ADA-accessible facility locations with the unit maps available on our wildlife area webpage.
As of this writing, some wildlife areas are closed or have limited access to protect public safety during the 2021 wildfire season. Visit our wildfire webpage for the latest updates. COVID-19 closures and restrictions are available on the WDFW COVID-19/Coronavirus response and updates webpage.
Chelan Wildlife Area — Chelan County
ADA-accessible facilities: Parking and vault toilet
The Beebe Springs Unit covers one mile of Columbia River shoreline that includes riparian, wetland, upland shrubsteppe, and cliff/talus habitats. Easily accessible from Highway 97 just southeast of Chelan, Beebe Springs offers diverse opportunities for visitors, including an ADA-accessible interpretive trail, wildlife viewing along the Columbia River, and Frank’s Pond, which provides fishing opportunities to anglers under 15 years of age.
Chehalis Wildlife Area — Grays Harbor County
ADA-accessible facilities: Parking access trail and ADA hunting blind
The Chehalis Unit is located about 2.5 miles southwest of Elma and is maintained for waterfowl habitat and associated recreation. Most of the land owned by WDFW is open wetland, riparian shrub habitat, or meadow/field habitat.
Colockum Wildlife Area — Chelan County
ADA-accessible facilities: Parking and restroom are available at Yoyo Rock water access area.
The Colockum Wildlife Area is located approximately 15 miles south of Wenatchee, and 20 miles northeast of Ellensburg in Kittitas and Chelan counties. The Colockum Wildlife Area features exceptionally diverse fish and wildlife habitat that includes shrubsteppe, conifer forest, high elevation lakes, and perennial and seasonal streams. Every year, thousands enjoy hunting, fishing, camping, and wildlife viewing here.
Columbia Basin Wildlife Area — Grant County
The Banks Lake Unit is located north of Moses Lake and lies just south of Grand Coulee. The Banks Lake Unit surrounds most of Banks Lake and is predominantly U.S. Bureau of Reclamation land managed by WDFW.
Cowlitz Wildlife Area — Lewis County
ADA-accessible facilities: Fishing trail along the Cowlitz River
The Cowlitz Wildlife Area consists of approximately 13,600 acres owned by Tacoma Power. This area is managed by WDFW as wildlife mitigation for the Mayfield and Mossyrock dams along the Cowlitz River. The Cowlitz Trout Hatchery Unit offers bank fishing and birdwatching, and is managed for black-tailed deer and riparian forest habitats.
The Cowlitz Trout Hatchery Unit is located next to the WDFW Cowlitz Trout Hatchery near Toledo in Lewis County. The boat launch, parking area, and restroom facilities is on a Tacoma Power access site and does not require a Discover Pass or WDFW Access Pass.
Johns River Wildlife Area — Grays Harbor County
ADA-accessible facilities: Improved parking area, trail, and hunting blinds
The Johns River Unit is located 10 miles south of Aberdeen. This area is managed for estuary restoration, waterfowl habitat, and some dryland agriculture for elk and waterfowl. Hunting occurs for deer, waterfowl, elk, bear, band-tailed pigeon, and forest grouse. Waterfowl hunting is particularly popular, and fishing is widespread for whitefish, rainbow and cutthroat trout, sea run cutthroat, and several species of salmon. Hiking and wildlife watching trips are also popular.
Methow Wildlife Area — Okanogan County
The Methow Wildlife Area is in the Methow River watershed in the western half of Okanogan County, and spans approximately 34,600 acres of land. The area comprises shrubsteppe, grasslands, and dry coniferous ponderosa pine forests.
The Big Valley Unit is about five miles northwest of Winthrop between Highway 20 and the Methow River. An ADA-accessible toilet is available.
The Methow Unit is set in the foothills on the east side of the Methow Valley, about 5.5 miles east of Winthrop. ADA-accessible restrooms are available on Bear Creek Loop Road.
The Rendezvous Unit offers diverse recreation opportunities. Unmaintained trails and old roads lead to Lewis Butte, Riser Lake, and Little Cub Creek areas. Watch for wildflower blooms in mid-May. This unit was purchased for mule deer winter range and migratory corridors. The Rendezvous Unit is located north of Winthrop, between the Chewuch and Methow rivers. ADA-accessible parking area and restrooms are available.
Oak Creek Wildlife Area — Yakima County
ADA-accessible facilities: Wildlife viewing platform
The Oak Creek Unit comprises riparian, shrubsteppe, mixed forest, and cliff and talus habitats that support a diverse array of fish and wildlife. Close to the visitor center, a winter elk feeding program is conducted annually to help reduce conflict between elk and neighboring agricultural land, providing an excellent opportunity for visitors to observe elk up close. The Oak Creek Unit is located 6 miles west of Naches.
Scotch Creek Wildlife Area — Okanogan County
ADA-accessible facilities: Gravel parking area and trail to wildlife viewing blind
The Similkameen-Chopaka Unit is located 18 miles west of Oroville along the Chopaka Road. This unit is a great place for birding, especially in the early spring. The steep mountain range to the west provides spectacular scenery, and also is home to bighorn sheep and mountain goats. The valley floor is mostly agricultural land, providing waterfowl forage. Ponds hold trumpeter swans, Canada geese, and a variety of dabbling and diving ducks, while brushy riparian draws are a natural feature of the high water table and provide habitat for upland birds as well as numerous migratory perching birds.
Sinlahekin Wildlife Area — Okanogan County
ADA-accessible facilities: Trails
The Sinlahekin Wildlife Area Unit lies within the Sinlahekin Valley, a deep, glaciated canyon with steep rock sidewalls rising from a broad valley floor. The property is within both the Sinlahekin Creek and the Coulee Creek watersheds. Natural lakes, ponds, and human-made impoundments offer a variety of fishing and recreational opportunities. Shrubsteppe, wetlands, and dry forest are the main habitat types, with 40 acres used for farming to increase wildlife forage. The Sinlahekin Unit is located 2.5 miles south of Loomis.
Skagit Wildlife Area — Skagit County
ADA-accessible facilities: Parking area is ADA compliant
The DeBay’s Slough Wildlife Area Unit is made up of agricultural fields, riparian forest, and freshwater wetlands. The Department bought the unit in the late 1990s to provide an undisturbed game reserve for trumpeter swans as well as to provide a limited waterfowl hunting area. See the unit webpage for additional information about public access areas and legal hunting areas. No dogs allowed. The Johnson/DeBay’s Slough Unit is located southwest of Sedro-Woolley and northeast of Mount Vernon in Skagit County.
South Puget Sound Wildlife Area — Pierce County
ADA-accessible facilities: Paved trail is available for wildlife viewing
The South Puget Sound Unit is within the city limits of Lakewood and home to the Urban Wildlife Interpretive Center and the Lakewood Fish Hatchery. The unit is one of the last remnants of South Puget Sound prairie ecosystem that once stretched across thousands of acres in the region.
Whatcom Wildlife Area — Whatcom County
ADA-accessible facilities: Vault toilet and fishing pier
The Lake Terrell Unit consists of a lake, wetlands, and forage fields for waterfowl and upland game. The 500-acre, human-made Lake Terrell, with its uniquely undeveloped shoreline and diverse fishery, has become one of the prime destination fishing venues in North Puget Sound. Anglers catch largemouth bass, channel catfish, triploid rainbow trout, perch, sunfish, and bullheads. Some of the artificial islands have duck blinds, and the lake has boat launches and other amenities; in the fall, pen-raised pheasant are released weekly for hunting. The Lake Terrell Unit is 10 miles northwest of Bellingham and 5 miles west of Ferndale.
Parking and access passes
WDFW offers two passes for those looking to explore state wild lands. The Discover Pass makes it easy to park at many state lands, including the state park system as well as lands managed by WDFW and the Department of Natural Resources. The Vehicle Access Pass grants access only to WDFW lands and is issued with certain hunting and fishing licenses. More information about passes and how to purchase them is available on the WDFW webpage.
Supporting access for hunters and anglers with disabilities
WDFW offers many options for hunters and anglers with permanent disabilities. For details on who is eligible and how to apply, visit the Eligibility requirements for disability status webpage.
Hunters and anglers with permanent inoperable disabilities can apply for ADA Special Use Permits (SUP), which allow for a specialized exception to a recreational activity, service, equipment, or regulation. Each Special Use Permit is customized on a “case-by-case” basis to that individual’s very specific and particular need. Additional information and applications are available on the WDFW Special Use Permit program webpage. Hunters with lower extremity mobility disabilities can apply for Road Access Entry Permits. To find out the program criteria and to fill out an online application, visit the Disabled hunter road access entry program webpage.
Find more accessible outdoor recreational opportunities:
· Washington State Parks: Interactive ADA features map
· Washington Trails Association: Barrier-Free Trails
· Washington Department of Natural Resources: Where to go, what to do interactive map with accessible amenities
To find out more about what WDFW is doing to make outdoors recreation more accessible, visit the WDFW Diversity, Civil Rights and Accessibility webpage.
Share your outdoor adventures for a chance to win outdoor gear!
Send us your best photos of how you spend time outdoors! Your photos may be featured on WDFW’s Facebook and Instagram to celebrate the variety of ways people enjoy outdoor lifestyles and to inspire others to spend time in nature.
Enter our monthly photo contest now through December 2021 for a chance to win a Cabela’s gift card! Each month has a new theme and a new winner with September’s photo themes highlighting ADA-accessible outdoor recreation and/or National Public Lands Day.
Participating is simple:
- Visit WDFW’s Life Outdoors webpage from now through December 2021 to find out the outdoor recreation themes for the current month.
- Submit pictures of you, your friends, or family participating in the month’s featured outdoor recreation themes on WDFW’s website.
- When submitting your photo, select #LifeOutdoorsWA in the category section. In the description area, tell us a little about your experience!
- On the last Friday of the month, a winner will be selected and featured on WDFW’s Facebook and Instagram. Winners will also be contacted via email to receive their prize.
When sharing your photos on social media, be sure to use #LifeOutdoorsWA!