ɬax̣awyam (welcome)

Since time immemorial Chinookan Peoples of the Lower Columbia River have tended to the oak woodlands, camas fields, and wapato patches of what we now call the Refuge, maintaining habitat for wildlife while supporting the lives of the people who called this place home. Based on the Chinookan village of Cathlapotle, the Plankhouse and the objects inside of it offer a tangible link to these original stewards and provides a unique site for the interpretation of our region's natural and cultural heritage.

Built in partnership with the Chinook Indian Nation, Portland State University, The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and numerous other community partners and volunteers. This House serves as an education and interpretive center and is used by the Chinook Indian Nation for cultural events throughout the year. Visit the Cathlapotle Plankhouse and connect with local indigenous culture.




Visit The Plankhouse

Located on the Carty Unit of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, the Cathlapotle Plankhouse is open to the public weekends from spring to fall. Volunteer docents staff the House to provide tours and answer questions. Our open hours depend on volunteer availability, so please check the calendar to make sure the House is open when planning your trip.

Open Hours
Mid-April through October 2nd
Saturday & Sunday
12pm – 4pm

School Groups

Each year around 3,500 students visit the Plankhouse and the Refuge for educational field trips.  We have revamped our education programming from 2018, for more information on how to schedule a field trip at the Refuge, please visit our Education page. The Friends also offers busing assistance funds to certain schools coming out for a trip. Information about this program can also be found on this page.

Other Group Tours
Group tours are available by special arrangement on a limited basis. Contact Cathlapotle Plankhouse Director Juliet McGraw at (360) 887 4106 or email Juliet_McGraw@fws.gov .

Special Events

Second Sunday Series
The Plankhouse hosts a series of presentations on Chinookan culture, archaeology, and natural history the Second Sunday of every month from April-October. These events include lectures, hikes, and hands on family activities. To view upcoming special events, please visit our events calendar.

2017 Plankhouse Weekend Hours

The Plankhouse will be open from 12:00 PM-4:00 PM every weekend until September 30th!

BirdFest & Bluegrass
The Plankhouse season ends with our biggest event of the year, BirdFest & Bluegrass. There are tons of walks, talks, and activities happening by the Plankhouse and throughout town that showcase the cultural and natural history of the region. Visit our BirdFest page to learn more about the event. 

Artist-in-Residence Series
The Plankhouse hosts a series of Artists-in-Residence demonstrations of Chinookan arts and culture during the months of April-June, especially for school groups. Past artists have demonstrated basket making, traditional foods and preparation techniques, and paint making with a variety of minerals and clays.  To coordinate your school group trip to the Refuge with the Artist-in-Residence Series fill out the education form on the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge’s education page, and request Artist in Residence on the form. 

Get Involved

img_20150914_114141Volunteers are the bedrock of the Cathlapotle Plankhouse. Volunteer docents greet visitors and interpret the Plankhouse on the weekends, help guide school groups through the House during the week, represent the Friends and the Refuge at community outreach events and work on special projects during the winter.

How to become a Volunteer
New docent training is held in April of every year, though you can join the docent team at any time. Contact Juliet_McGraw@fws.gov to learn more about how to get involved and to arrange an alternate training plan.



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