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Bridgeport State Park Area

A visit to Bridgeport State Park and its environs provides access to a variety of habitats, including the north side of the Columbia River both upstream and downstream of Chief Joseph Dam. Most birders visit the area in winter or in spring and early summer. A trip to Bridgeport State Park can easily be combined with a visit to the town of Bridgeport and surrounding areas on the south side of the Columbia River.

Access and Logistics

From the South: From Bridgeport, cross the Columbia River on SR 17, and soon after crossing the bridge, turn right on Half Sun Rd.

From the North: From the junction of SR 97 and SR 17, near the confluence of the Okanogan and Columbia rivers, travel south on SR17 approximately 8 miles and turn left on Half Sun Rd. Follow Half Sun Rd. 2 miles to reach the state park. In winter, when the park is closed, park near Lake Woods Golf Course just outside the park, and walk in.

Logistics: When the park is open, a state Discover Pass is required for entry. The campground loop is a good place to bird, and water birds can be seen from the swimming area along the river. A cliff-bordered mini-canyon, accessed by a maintenance road, extends north from the campground area. And various informal paths extend from the campground area into the surrounding shrub-steppe.

There are restroom facilities in the park when it is open, but the rest of the year the restrooms at the Visitor Information Area and Rest Stop near SR 17 are always open. The town of Bridgeport across the Columbia River has food, but limited lodging. All services can be found in Brewster 11 miles northwest of Bridgeport via SR 173 on the west side of the Columbia River or 14 miles via SR 17 and SR 97 on the east side of the Columbia.

Major Habitats along Route
  • Shrub-steppe – dominated by sagebrush and/or bitterbrush and grasses and forbs
  • Landscaped park – this habitat comprises the campground at Bridgeport State Park and the adjacent golf course
  • Agricultural Lands
  • Open water/Wetlands – Includes the open water of the Columbia River.

Birds and Seasons to Visit

Seasons: This route is excellent in spring and fall migration and in winter.

Birds: Passerines, raptors, waterfowl and other water birds. Many birders come here during winter months to find saw-whet owls roosting in small evergreens in and adjacent to the park campground.

Side Trips

A trail starts at the Visitor Information Area off of Half Sun Rd. just southeast of SR 17 and extends all the way to the State Park traversing primarily shrub-steppe. There are several parking spots off of Half Sun Rd. along the way, so you can walk all of it, or just part of it.

On the way to the State Park there are also three side roads that you can explore. The first is just past the new fish hatchery, is labeled Lower Spillway Recreation Area, and takes you down to the face of the dam. Close looks at Dippers and Loons are possible. In the spring the first bluebirds and Say's Phoebes can be found here.

The second side road is labeled North Viewpoint and is on your left as you’re heading toward the state park. A small, loop trail has been started there. There are great views of the dam, as well as soaring raptors and gulls.

The third side road is labeled Spillway Viewpoint, and is high above the Lower Spillway area at Chief Joseph Dam. Here there is a nice grassy area with a few trees to attract birds.


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