Cathlapotle Plankhouse

Located in the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge near Ridgefield, Washington, the Cathlapotle Plankhouse is a full-scale replica of structures built by the Chinookan People who made the Columbia River their home for at least 2,300 years. The building is based on more than a decade’s worth of archaeological research at the site, which began in the 1990s where a large village of the Cathlapotle Nation once stood. It took over 100 volunteers two years to complete it, and the official opening ceremony was conducted on March 29, 2005.

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark mention the village in their journals, both when they passed the town on November 5, 1805, and on their return journey on March 29, 1806. According to the explorers’ entries, they traded deerskins with the Cathlapotle in exchange for dogs and other provisions during both encounters. Their visit spelled disaster for the local populations since, only 20 years later, European diseases like smallpox took a heavy toll on the Chinookan People. By the late 1830s, those who survived abandoned the site. In 1840, the Carty family claimed the land and built a homestead. It became part of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in 1965.

Today, the Cathlapotle Plankhouse plays an important role in the life and community of the Cathlapotle Nation and other Chinookan tribes. It also serves as an outdoor education center and is used by tribal members for special events throughout the year.

Contact Information

Cathlapotle Plankhouse
Reservations and Information:

28908 Northwest Main Avenue, Ridgefield, Washington 98642, United States

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Other Information

  • Hours Open

    For more information about National Access passes and how to acquire those please visit store.USGS/recreationalpasses. A list of passes you can use at this site are also linked below. Or Become a Member of the Friends and chose any level over $60 to receive a pass as part of your membership (optional, please check the box)! NOTE: The Washington State Discover Pass is not valid on Federally managed public lands, including National Wildlife Refuges. Daily Fee The daily entrance fee to the Refuge is $3.00. Entrance fee and all valid passes admit everyone in a privately owned vehicle OR up to four adults on foot. Seasonal restrictions for pedestrian access on Auto Tour Route are in effect Oct-May. Youth 15 and under are always free For commercial use see our Permits page. Cash and check only – No debit/credit cards. Please bring exact change.
  • Seasons Open

    From spring to fall, the plankhouse is open to the public on weekends only. Volunteer docents staff the site, providing tours and information for visitors.
  • Prices and Fees

    Current gate times for both units: 6:00 AM – 8:30 PM.
  • Accessibility

    The Cathlapotle Plankhouse, the path leading to it, the pedestrian bridge, and the parking log are all ADA accessible.