Cathlapotle Plankhouse Spring Opening

What’s a Cathlapotle? It refers to the Cathlapotle people who lived in a village along the banks of the Columbia River in what is now Ridgefield. More than a decade ago, volunteers erected a traditional Chinookan Plankhouse so that visitors to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge could understand what life was like for the native peoples who inhabited this land.

Sunday, April 16, is the Cathlapotle Plankhouse‘s Spring Opening Celebration with free tours, hikes, and children’s activities. This year marks the Cathlapotle Plankhouse’s 12th anniversary, and the plankhouse will now be open weekends from noon to 4 p.m. Every second Sunday of the month, there’ll be a special event with speakers, guided hikes, and kids’ activities. For more information on upcoming events, visit Refuge admission is $3 per vehicle. Here’s what’s planned for Sunday:

  • Plankhouse tours and children’s activities, noon to 4 p.m.: tour the Plankhouse on your own or guided by our experienced volunteers. Children’s activities will be available as well.
  • Springtime “first foods” display, noon to 4 p.m.: learn about springtime foods of Chinookan Peoples at hands-on stations throughout the Plankhouse, and sample some stinging nettle tea
  • Naturalist-led family hike, “A Walk Through the Oaks,” 1 to 2 p.m.: join a naturalist on the trail to learn about (and hopefully see!) the Refuge’s wildlife. Meet in front of the Plankhouse.
  • Spring birding hike, 3 p.m.: This two-hour birding walk will focus on bird language as well as visual and auditory identification of common spring birds. All birding levels are welcome. Participants should be prepared for a two- mile hike on moderately uneven terrain. Meet at the Plankhouse.

To learn more about the Plankhouse, visit or contact Sarah Hill at or 360-887-4106. For wheelchair access to this event, contact Hill. The Cathlapotle Plankhouse is located at 28908 N.W. Main Ave. in Ridgefield.

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