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Girl with camera

The Sacramento NWRC is a great place for photographers of all ages and skills. The auto tours and walking trails provide excellent photographic opportunities. With the changing seasons and wide range of habitats, the Complex provides a wealth of images for you to find. 

  • Locations

    Visitor Binos

    From October through FebruarySacramento and Colusa NWRs and the Llano Seco Unit provide great opportunities to photograph large flocks of waterfowl along the auto tours and hiking trails and sandhill cranes near Llano Seco.
         - Sacramento NWR Visitor Area Brochure
         - Colusa NWR Visitor Area Brochure
         - Llano Seco Unit Visitor Area Brochure

    From February 15 - June 30, additional trails in portions of the hunt area on Sacramento and Sutter NWRs open for the public to provide additional opportunities for wildlife observation and photography. Visitors may utilize some of the in-ground, concrete hunt blinds on Sacramento NWR on a first-come basis.

         - Sacramento NWR Logan Creek Trail Brochure 
         - Sutter NWR Seasonal Trails Brochure

    Year-Round, trails on seven of the units of the Sacramento River NWR provide great opportunities to see migrant songbirds and resident mammals throughout all seasons. 
         - Sacramento River NWR Brochures

  • Photography Blinds

    Photoblind 1

    The Complex has four popular photography blinds.

    Blinds are AVAILABLE BY RESERVATION ONLY from mid-October through March....
        - Blind #1 at Sacramento NWR
        - Blind #2 at Sacramento NWR
        - Blind #3 at Colusa NWR
        - Blind #4 at Delevan NWR
        - See photos of all blinds   

    Summer Availability: occasionally a photo-blind pond will remain flooded into July. See below for details.

    Reservation Process for Fall/Winter Use (October-March):

    1. Read the Photographer's Guidelines (2014-15 version) for specific information on reservations, fees, access and descripitons.

    2. Fill out the Reservation Form (must read the Photographer's Guidelines first). If you do not have Adobe-editing software, please print the reservation form, fill it out, then return via mail, scan, email or fax.

    3. Reservation Applications must be received between Aug 1 - Aug 31. A lottery will take place in mid-September.

    4. Applicants will be notified by email or phone in mid-September. A $15 fee for each reservation must be paid by October 15 to confirm blind date selection.

    5. Following the completion of the first lottery, a List of Remaining Open Photo Blinds will be posted here, and you may follow the application process again beginning October 1.   

    Summer Use (April-July):

    Colusa NWR photo blind #3 is available through July 2015.
    Wood duck nest boxes have been placed adjacent to the photo blind to attract wood ducks. Photographers typically have the opportunity to photograph wood ducks, mallards, cinnamon teal and gadwall. Male ducks molt May-June and ducklings are present May-July.

    To reserve a summer blind:
    Read the Summer Guidelines (pdf). Availability is on a first-come, first-served basis from April-July. Applicants should contact the Refuge Manager 1-2 weeks prior to their desired date of use (see below). Users must pay the $15 fee within 1 week of using the blind. Read the Photographer's Guidelines for additional details. All users must fill out the evaluation form in the folder.

    Contact Refuge Manager Mike Peters at 530-458-2666, 530-510-0377 or email


    Sometimes photography blinds become available due to lack of reservation or cancellation. You may apply on a first-come, first-served basis by calling Sacramento NWR Complex (530-934-2801) or emailing and placing your name, phone number and email address on a wait-list. Due to the lag time it takes to fill blinds, there is a limit to the number of names on the wait-list.

  • Photography Programs

    Refuge Manager at Gate

    From November through March, photography programs are offered at a variety of refuges to photography wildlife, sunrise, sunset, wildflowers, and more with Refuge Manager Steve Emmons. Whether you are a seasoned or casual nature photographer, these tours are geared to varied interest and skill levels. These programs fill up fast!

    Learn More
  • Special Use Permits

    Bald Eagle by Steve Emmons

    Commercial filming (audio, video, photographic products of monetary value) requires a special use permit.

    Learn More
Page Photo Credits — USFWS, USFWS, Pam Bierce/USFWS, Photo by Steve Emmons
Last Updated: Apr 28, 2015
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