Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

Washington’s Padilla Bay reserve is located on the Salish Sea at the saltwater delta of the Skagit River. It is comprised of 11,000 acres of open waters, eelgrass beds, intertidal bays, uplands, freshwater sloughs, and high salt marsh. These habitats support herring, smelt, salmon, flatfish, Dungeness crab, ducks, eagles, shorebirds, and peregrine falcons. Mammals found in Padilla Bay include harbor seals and river otters. Reserve staff work with partners to address the priority coastal resource management issues in Padilla Bay through a combination of research, monitoring, training, and education programs.

Visit the Reserve's Website

Vital Stats

  • State: Washington
  • State Partner:

    Washington State Department of Ecology

  • Acreage: 11,000
  • Habitats: Predominantly aquatic, dominated by eelgrass beds, with flat intertidal bays, uplands, freshwater sloughs, and high salt marsh.
  • Designated: 1980
  • Site Profile: View
The Padilla Bay reserve participates in the System-Wide Monitoring Program (SWMP), which collects, analyzes, and makes available weather, water quality, and nutrient data from all National Estuarine Research Reserves. Learn more


There are many ways to enjoy the Padilla Bay reserve. You can tour the Interpretive Center aquariums and feed the fish, take a mud flat safari, hike the shore trail and upland trails, or take time for boating and kayaking.


The Coastal Volunteer Partnership program protects and restores natural resources of the marine shoreline and offers training, volunteer opportunities, special events, and workshops. The Skagit Stream Team trains volunteers to collect water quality data in the reserve’s priority watersheds or analyze data in the reserve laboratory.

Learn more

Become a Friend

The Padilla Bay Foundation purchases educational and research equipment for the reserve, provides scholarships for students and funding for interns and research assistants, publishes a newsletter, and supports special projects.

Join Today

Did you know?

Algae of the intertidal and subtidal areas in the Salish Sea produce twice as much plant material as the most productive crops in the Pacific Northwest.


Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
10441 Bayview-Edison Road, Mount Vernon, WA 98273
T: 360-428-1558