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Plan Your Visit

Deer at Colusa by Mike Peters

Welcome to the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge! Colusa is just one of the five refuges in the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Learn more about Colusa by clicking here.

Visitor opportunites at Colusa NWR include an auto tour, a walking trail, two viewing decks, a photography blind (by reservation), and hunting within the designated hunt area. 

While visiting Colusa NWR, consider also visiting the Sacramento NWR which is about 30 minutes north. Stop in at the Visitor Center at the Sacramento NWR for maps, orientation, and gather information on wildlife sightings, exciting programs, and guided tours. You can also browse the bookstore, pick up a wildlife checklist and view the exhibits. To enhance your visit, the Sacramento NWR lends binoculars and field guides. For the latest news, visit the Complex's Facebook page.



 Sacramento NWR:  
        - Visitor Center/Headquarters =  
               - Winter Hours (Nov-Feb) 9am-4pm every day 
               - Spring-Fall Hours (Mar-Oct) 9am-4pm Monday-Friday 
               - Visitor Center/Headquarters are closed on federal holidays   
        - Auto Tour/Wetland Walk (open year-round) = 1 hr before sunrise-1 hr after sunset 
        - Spring Trails (open Feb 15-June 30) = 1 hr before sunrise-1 hr after sunset
Delevan NWR:  
        - General viewing is limited to the bordering county roads 
Colusa NWR:  
        - Auto Tour/Trail (open year-round) = 1 hr before sunrise-1 hr after sunset 
Sutter NWR:  
        - Spring Trails (open Feb 15-June 30) = 1 hr before sunrise-1 hr after sunset
Llano Seco Unit of North Central Valley WMA:  
        - Trail (open year-round) = 1 hr before sunrise-1 hr after sunset 
Sacramento River NWR:  
        - Trails (open year-round) = 2 hrs before sunrise-1.5 hrs after sunset 
Hunting Areas: See Hunting Webpage    

What to Do? 

Check out the numerous visitor activities on the Complex....

Drive the Auto Tours: The Sacramento NWR has a 6-mile Auto Tour that begins at the visitor center. Visitors are required to stay in their vehicle but there are 3 stop-and-stretch areas where visitors are able to get out of their vehicles. A multi-level platform is located approximately half way around the auto tour. Colusa NWR has a 3-mile Auto Tour and a platform at the beginning of the auto tour. By staying in your vehicle, wildlife are less likely to be disturbed.
See our Auto Tours page for more information. 

 Hike the Trails: The Sacramento NWR has a 2-mile Wetland Walk that leaves from the Visitor Center and is open year-round, and 5 miles of Spring Trails that are open Feb 15 - June 30.  Colusa NWR has a 1-mile Walking Trail that begins near the viewing platform at the beginning of the Auto Tour.  Sutter NWR has 6 miles of Spring Trails that are open from Feb 15 - June 30. The Llano Seco Unit has a 1-mile Walking Trail that connects 2 viewing platforms.  The Sacramento River NWR has 7 different Units that have over 17 miles of trails. 
See our Trails page for more information.

 Check out the Visitor Center:  The Visitor Center for the Complex is located at the Sacramento NWR.  At the Visitor Center you can enjoy our bookstore, Discovery Room, and displays.  Watch the Complex's film  Unfinished Symphony. Shop our bookstore that is run by the  Altacal Audubon Society to find field guides, nature books, postcards, t-shirts, and more. Beginning in August 2013 major credit cards are now accepted.  The Visitor Center is open 9am-4pm every day from November to February, and weekdays-only the remainder of the year.  Interpretive kiosks, picnic tables, benches and restrooms are located outside the Visitor Center and are available year-round.   
See our Visitor Center page for more information.

 Plan a Bird-watching Trip: Check out our Sacramento Valley Birding Map and Sandhill Crane Birding Map, and plan a trip across the Sacramento Valley to see the great variety of birds found on the various refuges, wildlife areas, and state, county and city parks.  See our Wildlife page to find recent sightings, waterfowl survey summaries, wildlife checklists, and other information.

 Plan a Photography Trip:  Sacramento NWRC offers many photographic opportunities.  The auto tours and walking trails are great places for photographers of all ages and skills.  We offer photography programs from November through March, and  there are 4 photography blinds that are available by reservation only.  
See our  Photography page for more information. 

 Plan a Hunting Trip: Portions of Sacramento NWRDelevan NWRColusa NWR, and Sutter NWR are open to waterfowl and upland game bird hunting. 
See our Hunting on the Complex page for more information
Portions of the Sacramento River NWR are open to migratory game bird, upland game, and big game hunting.  
See our Sacramento River NWR Hunting page for more information.

Sacramento NWR Complex Visitor Services Maps: 

Entrance Fee

The Colusa NWR has no entrance fee.  The Sutter NWR, Sacramento River NWR, and Llano Seco Unit of the North Central Valley WMA also have no entrance fees.  The Sacramento NWR has a $6 entrance fee. Fees collected stay at the Complex and are used for the visitor services program. Visit the Passes and Permits page for more detailed information on the entrance fees.


Find out what wildlife are here and when it is the best time to see various species. Learn more by visiting the Sacramento NWR's wildlife page.


The Complex is committed to providing equal opportunities for all of our visitors. Refuge-specific brochures are available in Braille and audio versions. All tour routes, platforms, and public buildings have access for people with disabilities. The north loop of the Wetland Walk Trail is wheelchair accessible. The restrooms at Sacramento and Colusa NWRs and the Llano Seco Unit are accessible. For information on hunting, visit the hunting accessibility page. A CD is available in the visitor center describing the auto tour of Sacramento NWR.

How to Get Here

Click on the links below for driving directions and maps:

Local Amenities

Click here for a map of Willows Food and Lodging options. For other areas, visit the Chamber of Commerce links listed below.

Local Information and Activities

The surrounding communities offer a variety of amenities for visitors. Visit the following webpages for more information about restaurants, lodging, and other activities. Camping is not permitted on the Complex.

Other Tidbits

Dogs are permitted on trails on a 6 foot leash. Spring and summer are tick season. Carry in and carry out - the Complex is a carry in/carry out facility. This means any trash or items you bring in with you, must leave with you. Please leave only footprints, and take only photos and memories!

Injured Wildlife

The Complex does not rehabilitate wildlife and does not accept young or injured wildlife. Please leave young wildlife were it is found! The parents often know the young is there and will continue to feed and care for it.


The weather in the Sacramento Valley can range from extreme heat (100+) in the summer to dense fog or blustery winds in the winter. Often there is spotted fog in the Valley. If traveling from the Bay or Sacramento area, feel free to call the Complex to find out if it is foggy here. Check your local news stations to determine what to expect or check The Weather Channel or the National Weather Service (these sites will link to the weather in the town of Willows which is the closest town to Sacramento NWR).

Contact Information

Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex
752 County Road 99W, Willows, CA 95988

Phone: 530-934-2801

Fax: 530-934-2801

TTY: 711


Page Photo Credits — Jon Hubbell
Last Updated: Dec 12, 2014
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