The Refuges

The Refuges within the San Diego Wildlife Refuge Complex each have their own unique opportunities to watch and learn about wildlife and their habitat. Select each refuge name below to learn more and get useful visitor information.
Trail Maps

San Diego National Wildlife Refuge

San Diego National Wildlife Refuge offers one of the last expanses of open space in coastal southern California with exceptional biological, social, historical, and economic values and is protected as a sanctuary not just for plants and animals but also for people. Established in 1996 and at about 12,445 acres from the city of Jamul to communities in Spring Valley and eastern Chula Vista, the refuge is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s contribution to the San Diego Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP), a landscape-wide habitat conservation plan to preserve habitat and species while allowing appropriate development. Visitors have the opportunity to go hiking, biking, birding, and horseback riding as well as photograph endangered species and get a tour from a refuge ranger.

San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge

The San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge protects a rich diversity of endangered, threatened, migratory, and native species and their habitats in the midst of a highly urbanized coastal environment. The Refuge is situated at the south end of San Diego Bay and is surrounded by the cities of National City, Chula Vista, San Diego, Imperial Beach, and Coronado. Established to protect endangered and threatened species, the Refuge encompasses approximately 2,620 acres of land and water in and around San Diego Bay.

Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge

Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge is 1,072 acres in size and is located where the Tijuana River meets the Pacific Ocean, also called the Tijuana Estuary. Be sure to spend some time out discovering the trails to take in the incredible views and birds that soar across the estuary. The Refuge is also home to the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve which is managed by the California State Parks and is the home of the Tijuana Estuary Visitors Center. The Visitors Center has interactive displays and a great bookstore. Friends members get 10% off!

Border Field State Park

Located within the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve, Border Field State Park sits in the very southwestern corner of the United States, 15 miles south of San Diego. This important wildlife habitat, comprised of sand dunes and salt marshes, gives refuge to critically threatened and endangered birds such as the Western Snowy Plover, the California Least Tern, and the Light-footed Ridgway’s Rail.

The park provides restrooms, picnic areas, barbecues, horse corrals, interpretive displays, and scenic views across the beach and estuary. Visitors enjoy hiking, horseback riding, photography, and bird watching along the 1.5 mile stretch of beach and inland trails. The Park does not recommend swimming or wading, due to hazardous conditions, such as inshore holes, rip currents, and the lack of lifeguard service within the Park.

Border Monument number 258 can be viewed from Monument Mesa, however there is no close access because it is now behind two border fences. You can still see the bunkers which were leftover from World War II. Read more about the history of this area.