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The Port of Ridgefield faces a small river called Lake River, which is the natural channel connecting Vancouver Lake with the Columbia River, and runs parallel to the Columbia River for some distance. Unfortunately for Ridgefield, this narrow river is not something that can be navigated by large vessels, and thus in modern times the Port of Ridgefield has had to seek income from recreational craft.
The boat launching ramp (which is separated by a distance of two city blocks from the more primitive kayak launching area) is located at the end of Mill Street.
The facility has a fairly good sized paved parking area, a few picnic tables near the river, flush toilets in a heated building, and a paved boat ramp with floating docks from which to prepare and retrieve the boat.
The one huge problem that this facility does have is that Mill Street crosses the railroad line at a steep pitch, and many vehicles with trailers scrape the ground as they pass over this sharp transition in grade.
A $6 day use fee is charged to use this facility and the parking fee is valid for both this facility and the kayak launch two blocks further north. The vending machine for the parking permits is located in the sheltered area of the restroom building, near the entrance to the parking area. Photo 3 shows the restroom building with the yellow parking permit vending machine.
Written Dec 30, 2011
Only parts of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge are available by hiking. Much of it is swamp, and therefore not suitable for walking.
The gandly named Port of Ridgefield has a kayak and small boat launch area. There is a gate that prevents anything requiring a trailer from entering the water.
There is a single picnic table, a dock, and a gravel area for parking.
From here, you can explore the area by boat or kayak and get to areas that are unexplorable by foot.
It is necessary to have a parking permit to use the gravel parking lot at the end of the road, at the kayak launch site. To get the parking permit you have to go to the actual boat launch ramp that is two blocks south of the kayak launch area. The day use fee is $6 and covers both the boat launch ramp and the more primitive kayak launch area. The boat launch area has a larger, paved parking area and flush toilets in a heated restroom building. The kayak launch area has a portable toilet.
So, since the parking permit covers both areas, I highly suggest using the best facilities available.
The boat launch area is at the west end of Mill Street, and the vending machine for the parking permits is in the sheltered area of the restroom building. This facility is covered under a separate tip.
Updated Dec 30, 2011
Address: 111 W Division St, Ridgefield, WA 98642
Ridgefield and its surrounding area has a small but dedicated artist community. The Alcove Art Gallery is a small (bedroom sized!) art gallery that shows the works of these artists, and participates in a regular "First Friday" (First Friday of the Month) art show.
Due to the size and number of artists, the art works on display in the gallery change every month.
The gallery is a cooperative, and is owned by the participating artists. Therefore, it is not quite the same as a gallery that offers the art work at significantly higher prices than what the artist is going to make off of the sale of the works.
What to Get Here: Paintings, especially of wildlife on the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. This includes prints of paintings on greeting cards. A number of unique items, including jewelry, are offered.
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 10 to 5. Closed Sunday, Monday and all hollidays. First Friday arts events open until 8.
Written Jun 17, 2010
Address: 328 Pioneer Street, Ridgefield, Washington 98642
Phone: (360) 727-3088
VirtualTourist has added Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge as a location to the database. Therefore, all of the tips I have creating that relate to the Wildlife Refuge are now located in the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge section of this web site.
Written Oct 12, 2008
Organized by the good citizens of Ridgefield, Washington in general, and specifically the Friends of the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge, this annual event that celebrates the return of Sandhill Cranes to the refuge.
During this time, there will be special tours of the wildlife refuge, the plank house, artists who create wildlife themed artwork, and maybe some visits from some birds undergoing rehabilitation.
The bluegrass part of the event comes in the afternoons, as local bands take over various downtown restaurants and demonstrate their music.
During this event, normal fees for visiting the Wildlife Refuge are waived.
Written Oct 19, 2007
Address: Downtown Ridgefield, and Wildlife Refuges
You are much better off reading the web site of this wonderful modern day construction of a traditional Chinookan cedar plank house than reading my inadequate description of its construction, location, history and cultural significance.
When Lewis & Clark came this way in 1805, the current location of the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge was a community of Native American cedar plank houses, home to about 900 people. This community and historic heritage site is now referred to by the name Cathlapotle, though this is a bit of a mistake. Lewis & Clark referred to it as "a large village of the Quathlapotle Nation.” Doing a web search of the word "Cathlapotle" should yield some interesting information, and probably create just as many questions as it answers.
I am told that during the dedication, the federal officials present kept referring to this cedar plank house as a "replica" of the real thing. Finally, one of the native woman spoke up in protest "You keep referring to this as a replica. To us, this is NOT a REPLICA. To us, this is our home." This should tell you something about its cultural importance.
As to its construction, it was made from huge cedar logs in the traditional manner.
Artwork in the house was made by a local Chinookan craftsman. Some of the symbolism is known and other symbols used were kept as private knowledge of the Chinookan culture.
Written Oct 14, 2007
Address: Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Carty Unit
The restaurant offers a Mexican Ranch theme, and is part of a family of three restaurants (the other two are in Vancouver and Camas). Decorations are very Mexican in flavor (as opposed to, say, certain "Mexican" restaurants that have a very non-Mexican feel to them). The artwork on the wall is particularly Mexican and certainly not something mass produced in some factory in China.
That is, the artwork is mostly Mexican. I'm not quite sure about the painting of the zebras but it is definitely surrounded by a Mexican environment.
The locals tell me that a long line of restaurants went into this location and failed. On the other hand, this restuarant is good enough and popular enough that it will probably survive, in their opinion.
It is a popular birthday location as well, as the polaroid photos on the wall of their birthday guests testify.
This group of three restaurants recently scored a 100% with the restaurant reviewer of the Clark County Columbian newspaper.
Favorite Dish: The food is good, and generally ready in 5 minutes or so after being ordered. Take out is available, though aluminum containers are only partly recyclable and only after some cleaning.
Their burritos are a reasonable deal at around $6.50 each.
Vegetarian Fajitas is a huge amount of food for only $9.99.
Food comes in a variety of prices, but all of it seems to be a good value. Though I have put the price down as "under US$10" there are a few items on the menu that are over $12. The majority of people should be able to eat here for under $10 though.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Address: 122 North 3rd Street, Ridgefield Washington 98642
This is a general purpose small town store and restaurant and is typical of what one would find in the Pacific Northwest countryside 15 or 20 years ago.
I have called this place Zebrun's Deli because that is what the sign in front of the place calls it. In reality, there are at least two different establishments on the various menus you will find inside at the counter.
Inside you will find that the store serves as a general store and sells all manner of food for the community, but also has a deli counter for sandwiches, ice cream cones, milk shakes and various other prepared food.
The east end is the restaurant section, where you can sit down inside and enjoy beer and many other more involved foods that can't be served at the deli counter. Some food items you will need to order at the deli counter though, particularly dessert items.
Take a look at the shelves set high on the wall, and you will see the antique collection owned by the store owners. If all that gets used in an appropriate fashion, this could be a very unique place one day.
Favorite Dish: Try a Cookies and Cream milk shake.
Prices for Ice Cream related goodies:
Cake Cones $1.99
Waffle Cones $2.99
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Address: 320 Pioneer St., Ridgefield WA 98642
The primary tip for this location is my Whipple Creek Park tip located in the community named Sara, as the park is actually quite far south of Ridgefield itself. However, it is close enough to Ridgefield that if you are interested in some forest explorations this might be a place for you.
Please be sure to read my Whipple Creek Park tip at http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/20d731/
as it contains a bit more information than this tip, but the basic facts of the park are that it is a number of trail loops through dense forest. A few of the trails go through open areas, and one of those skirts the edge of one of the local farm fields.
There are no public restrooms anywhere in the park.
How to Get Here: See my Whipple Creek Park tip at http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/20d731/
for more detailed information, but the basics are:
From downtown Ridgefield, take 9th Street south, which then turns into Hillhurst Road. Keep following the main road south, which eventually turns into NW 31st Street, then NW 209th Street, then NW 41st Avenue. After dropping into the Whipple Creek canyon there is a four-way stop. Turn left, and go east on NW 179th Street to NW 21st Avenue, then turn south. The parking lot is a gravel area at the end of the road. Please reserve the larger areas for pull-through access for those with horse trailers.
From Interstate 5, take the Clark County Event Center / Sleep Country Ampitheatre / 179th Avenue Exit. Head west, past the fairgrounds and event center. Turn south (left) onto 21st, and go to the gravel parking lot at the end of the road.
: About the Photos:
Photo 1: Looking towards the gravel parking lot at the end of 21st, from the trailhead and trail. On the right you will see introductory signs, plus a map of the park.
Photo 2: Trails in the park are well marked and most are named. The color coded arrows correspond with colored lines on the map. (Take a digital photo of the map before you wander into the park so that you can find your way easier). Names also correspond with those on the map, but full named signs are not available at all locations in the park.
Written Sep 11, 2012