Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area Visitors' Guide

Following droughts in the 1930s that affected most of North America, major conservation efforts, by both private and governmental entities, were enacted to reserve trends of degrading and disappearing wetlands. During this time period there was a major creation and expansion of federal wildlife refuges and state wildlife areas. As the concept of waterfowl flyway management was endorsed and developed, wildlife areas were acquired and managed as part of a larger plan focused on migratory waterfowl needs. LMWA was one of several wetland-focused wildlife areas established in Oregon. Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area was established in 1949, with primary objectives of protecting and improving waterfowl habitat and providing a public hunting area.

A parking permit is required at Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area. Permits can be purchased at ODFW License Agents (pdf), at ODFW offices that sell licenses and online. Permits are not available at the wildlife area.

Best time to visit: March through June is the most active time at Ladd Marsh for bird and other wildlife watching. It can also be the most scenic when large meadows turn blue with common camas blooms. The Ladd Marsh Bird Festival takes place in May offering opportunities for birders of all experience levels. For hunters, fall and winter offer many opportunities. Consult the current hunting regulations for specific seasons and rules. Always check conditions first since water conditions are unpredictable and northeast Oregon wetlands often freeze and may do so early in the season.

Visiting hours: Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area is open for wildlife related recreation from 4:00 AM to 10:00 PM during seasons and days listed below. 

  • All wildlife area lands East of Foothill Road, are open to public entry Wed., Sat., Sun. and Federal holidays August 1 through January 31 with the following exceptions:
    • The Nature Trail, adjacent to I-84, is open year-round;
    • The Foothill Road Viewpoint is open year-round;
    • The Peach Road Fishing Pond is open year-round;
    • The Tule Lake Public Access Area is open seven days a week March 1 – July 31 and Wed., Sat., Sun. and Federal holidays August 1 through January 31.
  • All wildlife area lands West of Foothill Road are open 7-days per week April 1 through January 31. They are closed to all entry at other times except by access permit issued by ODFW.

What to see and do: Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area features the largest hardstem bulrush wetland remaining in Northeast Oregon. Because this area is intended primarily to protect wildlife, public access is limited. Please review the Administrative Rules at the link below for specific areas, days and dates the wildlife area is open to public access. Wildlife may often be viewed from county roads; the best observation points are along Foothill and Peach roads. Dogs are prohibited except during authorized game bird hunting seasons. In addition to the Wildlife Area Parking Permit, a free, daily public access permit is required for all visitors. Daily permits are available at self-check-in stations located near open areas.

  • Wildlife: mule and white-tailed deer, elk; coyote, red fox, weasels, mink, cougar, black bear, muskrat, western painted turtle, garter snakes, gopher snake, red-tailed hawks year-round, Swainson’s hawks in summer, rough-legged hawks in winter; northern harrier, bald and golden eagles; barn, great-horned and western screech owls, tundra swan, Canada goose; mallard, gadwall, cinnamon teal, American green-winged teal, wood duck, northern shoveler, northern pintail, black-billed magpie, common yellowthroat, Bewick’s, house and marsh wrens, white-crowned sparrow, American and lesser goldfinch, house finch; black-chinned, calliope and rufous hummingbirds; ring-necked pheasant, California quail; great blue heron, great egret and a variety of shorebirds.
  • Facilities: Waterfowl hunting blinds, wildlife viewing platform, viewing blind, ADA accessible restrooms, trails, fishing pond (see area map).
  • Nearby: Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Morgan Lake, Grande Ronde River and Thief Valley Reservoir.
  • Lodging: Lodging is available in La Grande and Union. Both public and private Campgrounds and RV Parks are available in the area.
  • Bird Festival is occurring May 18-20, 2018.
  • Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area Photos
  • Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area Management Plan (pdf)
  • Wildlife Area Administrative Rules (pdf)

Provided by ODFW and Travel Oregon

Directions: The wildlife area is located seven miles south of La Grande. Take exit 268 off I-84 to Foothill Road.

Maps:

Game Bird Hunting Map (pdf)

    Getting Involved: Friends of Ladd Marsh: The Friends of Ladd Marsh (http://www.friendsofladdmarsh.org/) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to assisting ODFW with enhancement, conservation and public enjoyment of the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area.

    Address and Phone:
    Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area
    59116 Pierce Road
    La Grande, OR 97850
    (541) 963-4954