Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Mountain-Prairie Region


You are invited to participate in several recreational activities during your visit to the Refuge. However, certain regulations are necessary to protect wildlife and preserve the beauty of the area. Please take a moment to review these regulations. Your understanding of Refuge regulations will make your visit a safe and enjoyable one.

  • Off road/trail vehicle use is prohibited. Licensed motor vehicles may be operated on county roads and mowed trails only.

  • Parking is permitted adjacent to open roads or trails (within one vehicle length of the road or trail) or in mowed parking areas only.

  • Gates must be left as they are found, opened or closed.
  • Several sand trails require the use of four wheel drive vehicles. These trails are signed and enforced as such.

  • Pets must be leashed, except hunting dogs used for bird hunting purposes during appropriate hunting seasons.

  • Possession of alcohol is prohibited on Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

  • Refuge public use is limited to daylight hours only.
  • Deer hunters may access the Refuge two hours prior to the start of legal shooting time and must depart within two hours after the close of legal shooting time.

  • All firearms must be unloaded and either cased or dismantled unless being used for specific Refuge hunting seasons listed on this page.

  • Prohibited activities include, but are not limited to: overnight camping, open fires, driving on frozen lakes, and climbing fire-lookout towers.

Any public access or activity that is not specifically described on this page is prohibited.

Fishing Regulations

Fishing is only permitted at the lakes listed below:

Island Lake

Island Lake is open to fishing year-round in accordance with State regulations.

Smith and Crane Lake

Smith and Crane Lakes are open to fishing from November 1 through February 15 in accordance with State regulations. The possession or use of live or dead minnows is prohibited in all Refuge lakes, as is the possession of any fish not taken from Refuge lakes. However, dead smelt may be used as bait. No overnight shelters or boating (including float tubes) is permitted.

For state fishing regulations, see the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Fishing Guide.

Boating Regulations

Boating including float tubes is permitted on Island Lake only.  Internal combustion motors are prohibited.  All applicable State regulations apply.

Hunting Regulations

Refuge hunting is permitted in accordance with applicable State and Federal regulations. A Nebraska hunting license (or, if appropriate, big game permit) and habitat stamp are required. A Federal waterfowl hunting stamp (duck stamp), State waterfowl stamp, and HIP number are also required to hunt migratory birds.

Non-toxic shot is required for all shotgun hunting on the Refuge.

Prairie grouse, pheasant, rabbits, coyotes, furbearers and deer may be hunted on those portions of the Refuge open to hunting during appropriate State-regulated hunting seasons. Ducks, geese and coot may be hunted only on that portion of the Refuge lying east of the closed area and west of the proposed wilderness area (See Public Use Map). No other wildlife may be hunted on the Refuge.

It is requested that all deer harvested on the Refuge be checked in at the Refuge Headquarters.

For state hunting regulations, see the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Homepage.

Last updated: March 21, 2011