The is peak season for spectacular views of wildlife at our wildlife refuges. Somewhere between late November and early February, the seasonal populations of waterfowl and cranes in the refuges will hit their maximum numbers for the season. The counties of the San Joaquin Valley are located along the Pacific Flyway -- a corridor for migratory birds. Ducks, geese, swans and cranes enjoy our relatively mild winters while their summer homes in Canada and Alaska stay covered with snow and ice.
The Merced National Wildlife Refuge is the best bet for county residents. Located on Sandy Mush Road, eight miles west of Highway 59, this refuge area has a five-mile auto tour route, and three short hiking trails. It's an easy day trip from anywhere in Merced County.