Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Fish and Wildlife Service, California.

Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge is located in a vast cultural and natural landscape. As part of the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex, a complex of seven refuges spanning over 125 miles and 11 counties, the protected habitats and wildlife are just as diverse as the urban communities surrounding them. Our location gives us the perfect opportunity to connect, work with, and serve the public, schools, and nearby community groups.  

The first people who called the greater San Francisco Bay Area their home are the Ohlone and Miwok people, made up of eight primary language groups, across as many as 58 tribal bands. The Bay’s temperate climate and plentiful food provided a secure place for families to thrive for over 15,000 years. The Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge spans the traditional ancestral lands of four tribal groups; the Lamchin, Puichon, Alson, and Tuibun – and this area remains an integral part of their culture.  

Today, the San Francisco Bay Area hosts almost 8 million people, living in three major urban cores (San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland) and more than 100 communities surrounding that same vibrant, thriving estuary.  

The Refuge manages over 30,000 acres of public lands, 38 miles of trails, a Visitor Center, and an Environmental Education Center, all adjacent to multiple ethnically and economically diverse communities. Created in 1972, largely as the result of grassroots efforts by the local community, Don Edwards San Francisco Bay NWR was one of the first, and today remains our nation’s largest Urban National Wildlife Refuge.

Nearby Activities


To refuge headquarters and visitor center (Fremont): From Highway 84 (at the east end of the Dumbarton Bridge), exit at Thornton Avenue. Travel south on Thornton for half a mile to the refuge entrance. Turn right at the refuge entrance sign and follow Marshlands Road to the stop sign. Turn left into the parking lot. To environmental education center (Alviso-San Jose): From Interstate 880 or Highway 101, exit on Highway 237 toward Alviso. Turn north on Zanker Road. Continue on Zanker, which turns into Los Esteros after a road bend, to the environmental education center entrance (a sharp right turn at Grand Boulevard), approximately 2.1 miles from Highway 237.

Additional Information

Photo Gallery