Woodbridge Ecological Reserve

This is a place to view migrating waterfowl, Sandhill Cranes, and other birds in the fall and winter months. Sandhill cranes, Canada geese, snow geese, tundra swans, and many other birds often use the reserve as their fall and winter home. Local residential birds include the red-wing blackbirds, black-shouldered kite and American kestrel, ring-necked pheasant, meadowlarks and other small songbirds.

  • Easy to Locate? Yes
  • Pet Friendly? Not in the reserve itself. You can keep your dog in your vehicle if you’re just viewing from Woodbridge Road.
  • Easy to Walk? What I’m describing on this page is a self-guided auto-/walking tour. You cannot access the reserve itself without a guide, so watch for when tours are available. They are often done only at dusk, and SELL OUT FAST to secure a date as soon as you’re able. Otherwise, you can view portions of the reserve from the turnouts or along the road (by driving or walking).
  • Is there a Fee? Yes. You must have a California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) “Lands Pass” which you can purchase online (see below) if you’re going on a tour or otherwise accessing the reserve site. Currently, the passes cost about $5 for a day.
  • Are there Restrooms? There’s sometimes a portable outhouse available for visitors at the second turnout.
  • Is there Accessible Parking? Yes, in the turnouts. Do not park on the road.
  • Other Notes:  When viewing from the road and turnouts, you can still see quite a few bird species in the winter-spring migration period. To see the Sandhill Cranes go in December and January,

See my FLICKR account for more albums of photos taken at this location..

According to the CDFW webpage, The greater Sandhill Crane population has diminished in California to a point where they were listed as a threatened species in 1983. The Stockton delta wetlands (inclusive of the 353-acre Woodbridge Ecological Reserve) provide the largest area of freshwater marsh wintering habitat in the state, not only for Sandhill Cranes but for other waterfowl as well.

The Lands Pass:

Passes: A CDFW Lands Pass must be in possession by each visitor who is 16 years of age or older, however, visitors who are in possession of a valid California hunting or fishing license in their name are exempt from this requirement. You can buy a day pass online and print it out yourself at: https://wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Lands-Pass. Annual passes are also available but take about 2 weeks to arrive, so plan accordingly. You can also purchase Land Passes wherever hunting/fishing licenses are sold in California.

For more information, call the reserve at (209) 234-3435 or the Bay Delta Region Fairfield office at (707) 428-2002.

How to Get to the Reserve:

  • From Sacramento:
  • Take Interstate 5 South to the Peltier Road exit
  • When you’ve exited the freeway turn LEFT onto Peltier Road
  • Then turn RIGHT onto Thornton Road
  • Follow Thornton Road until you come to the stop sign on the corner of Woodbridge Road
  • Turn RIGHT onto Woodbridge Road and travel about 2 miles to the turnouts and lookout points. This first turn out is on the right and the second turnout (with informational signage) is on the left. This is where the portable toilet is located along with a couple of benches for sitting.

Travels of a Certified California Naturalist