The Willamette River Valley of western Oregon is the historical and economic heart of the state. Not only is it a fabulously productive agricultural area, but it is also the major population center, containing Oregon’s largest cities.
Unsurprisingly, however, the scale of human activity has had a highly deleterious effect on native wildlife. The Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge preserves a small slice of the natural environment, tucked among the farmlands, where wildlife still has a chance to thrive. The refuge is focused on habitat for the dusky Canada goose, a threatened subspecies that winters only in the Willamette Valley, but other wildlife is protected too. The refuge is named for George J. Baskett, a prominent early settler in the area.
Wildlife observation and photography are the primary activities in the refuge. There is also a network of hiking trails, including the Rich Guadagno observation platform on a high point in the center of the refuge.
Know Before You Go
Baskett Slough is off Oregon State Route 22 about 12 miles west of Salem. There is an observation platform and interpretive site on the north (right) on SR-22 3.4 miles west of the intersection of Oregon 99W.
The only public vehicle access is on graded Colville Road, which traverses the Refuge roughly east-west. It should be easily passable to passenger cars in dry weather. To get there, continue on SR-22 0.9 miles beyond the observation point and turn right onto Smithfield Road. Then in about 100 feet make an immediate right onto Colville Road. The road first parallels SR-22 for about 0.1 mile and then makes a shallow bend to the left. In 1.2 miles it makes a right-angle turn to the left, and in another 0.2 miles it makes a right-angle turn to the right. The main trailhead, for the Rich Guadagno Memorial Trail, is at this corner on the northwest. Automobiles can continue out 1.5 miles to SR 99W.