I-5 takes a brief scenic interlude between Olympia and Tacoma as it crosses the Nisqually river. Although not overly well marked while travelling on the Interstate, taking exit 114 exit comes as close as possible to a direct connection with the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. After passing through the refuge entry gate, the access road loops around to a parking area near the well equipped visitor center.
The refuge is primarily a tidal estuary, and as such the majority of walkways are on an impressive sequence of well constructed boardwalks which allow access at all tide levels – though unfortunately not at all times, as the outer end of the furthest walk borders a hunting area and is closed during the hunting season. An impressive variety of habitat is included in the relatively small area made accessible to general visitors, including the mudflats of the tidal esturary, freshwater ponds, the Nisqually river, and grassland.
During a late December visit there were plenty of geese and ducks around as well as the occasional heron and hawk, while a variety of songbirds made themselves at home.