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Nearly 700,000 people visit the refuge each year, but thanks to the 48 kilometres of walking tracks spread over a 12,140-hectare site, the refuge never feels crowded. More than 200 species of local and migratory birds call the area home, including protected species such as the California clapper rail bird and the California brown pelican.
Located in south San Francisco Bay, the island consists primarily of tidal marshland, salt ponds, mud flats and seasonal wetlands. The gravelled tracks that criss-cross the refuge allow visitors to study the birds in peace, and there are many benches and shaded areas where you can base yourself. For the best sightings, it's of course advisable to bring binoculars and telephoto lenses.
Aside from the birds that call the refuge home, in winter, waterfowl make extensive use of the area, with around 45,000-75,000 visiting each winter. Apart from the birds, also look out for animals such as the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse, lizards and harbour seals.
The refuge also includes Dumbarton Fishing Pier which is a popular fishing spot for rays, leopards sharks, bass, sturgeon and leopard sharks. Keen anglers can have a go, but do check with local fishing regulations before taking anything home.
The visitor centre in nearby Fremont contains exhibits on the wildlife and history of the refuge. Visitors can also find information booklets and a book shop at the centre which is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm.
The Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge is open daily and admission is free. There is very limited public transport so it's easiest to drive (it takes around 20 minutes from San Jose) and parking is easy and reasonably priced.
Situated in the suburbs, this hotel is within 12 mi (20 km) of Facebook Campus, Tesla Motors and Southland Mall. Stanford University and Googleplex are also within 16 mi (25 km).
Situated in the business district, this hotel is 0.9 mi (1.5 km) from Ardenwood Historic Farm and within 3 miles (5 km) of Alameda Creek Regional Trail and Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Coyote Hills Regional Park is 2.7 mi (4.3 km) away.
Situated in the business district, this hotel is 0.8 mi (1.4 km) from Ardenwood Historic Farm and within 3 miles (5 km) of Alameda Creek Regional Trail and Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Coyote Hills Regional Park is 2.6 mi (4.2 km) away.
Located in Ardenwood, this motel is 0.8 mi (1.3 km) from Alameda Creek Regional Trail and within 3 miles (5 km) of Ardenwood Historic Farm and Union Landing. Coyote Hills Regional Park and Fremont Hub Shopping Center are also within 6 miles (10 km).
Situated in Newark, this hotel is within 1 mile (2 km) of Newpark Mall and Olhone College. Fremont Hub Shopping Center and Washington Hospital are also within 3 miles (5 km).
Situated in Newark, this motel is 1.2 mi (1.9 km) from Newpark Mall and within 3 miles (5 km) of Olhone College and Fremont Hub Shopping Center. Washington Hospital and Ardenwood Historic Farm are also within 6 miles (10 km).
Located in Centerville, this hotel is within 2 miles (3 km) of Newpark Mall, Fremont Hub Shopping Center and Olhone College. Washington Hospital is 2.2 mi (3.6 km) away.
Situated in Union City, this holiday home is within 3 miles (5 km) of Alameda Creek Regional Trail, Union Landing and Coyote Hills Regional Park. Ardenwood Historic Farm and Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge are also within 6 miles (10 km).