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Visit Long Beach in Winter


You never know what you’ll see on Southwest Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula starting in December through April. Wildlife lovers can spend a day spotting all sorts of photo-worthy animals, like this snowy owl on a bed of oyster shells.

Other sightings may include seeing migrating gray whales, trumpeter swans and peregrine falcons.

“This is a great time to view wildlife on the Long Beach Peninsula,” said Andi Day, the executive director at the Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau. “Opportunities to see less common species from easily accessible viewing sights make the region ideal, particularly on clear weather days.”

Gray Whales

You may spot a whale from Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center at Cape Disappointment State Park in Ilwaco in December. In March you might see them returning, and they usually are closer during their return and easier to see – especially when they travel near the shoreline with calves.

Humpback Whales

Humpbacks are making a comeback and several were spotted feeding in the Columbia River near the Washington side of the Astoria-Megler Bridge last fall. Cetacean lovers anticipate their return during the northward migration this spring.

Snowy Plovers

Winter is the best time to see a snowy plover. Look for their habitat at Leadbetter Point State Park and beaches to the south. The plovers are more mobile in winter. March 15 to Sept. 30 the beach refuge and state park closes to the public to protect the snowy plovers during nesting.

Trumpeter Swans

The swans are predicted to make their annual return to Black and Loomis lakes in late December.

Bird Watching

“A great deal of migrating waterfowl including mallards, pintails, American widgeon, green-winged teal, Canadian geese, and shorebirds, sandpipers, dunlins, godwits, and more are using the estuaries of Willapa Bay, Port of Ilwaco and the Columbia River right now,” said Jackie Ferrier, Willapa National Wildlife Refuge. “Quite a few raptors, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, northern harriers are present as well.”

Snowy Owls

For the past couple of years, snowy owls have made appearances. Locals hope they return.

For more information on wildlife viewing on the Long Beach Peninsula visit

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