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Plan Your Visit

SNWR late Fall


Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge - an Oasis in the Desert!

    Stillwater NWR provides recreation opportunities to visitors who enjoy getting away from it all. Activities include viewing the unique geology and desert wildlife,   waterfowl hunting, bird watching, and nature photography. Passenger vehicles are acceptable as long as roads are not wet or wash-boarded. Make sure to pack water, food, a cell phone or other signalling device, and first aid kit just in case. 


The refuge is open from sunrise to sunset.  Visitors access the refuge via Hwy 50 going East through Fallon, turning left onto State Route 116 after 5miles.  This is also known as Stillwater Road, and leads directly to the main entry point for the refuge after 12 miles. 


Once on the refuge, the pavement ends and the adventure begins!  There are several designated public access roads within the refuge, and visitors must remain on these at all times.  Any off-road travel is strictly prohibited and enforced.  Parking is allowed in designated parking areas only.  


There are several public service features on Stillwater refuge, including 5 vault toilets at strategic locations; a covered pavilion with picnic tables and a viewing boardwalk with floating platforms on the Foxtail Lake driving tour loop; a shaded observation deck with interpretive signs at Stillwater Point Reservoir, and the new Tule Trail interpretive path that has rest benches, a photo blind and trail signs. 


Improved boat launches are at several locations within the hunt zone, and are open only during waterfowl season. The one exception is the West Marsh (Willow and Millen lakes) Water Trail launch at the Narrows, off Center Road, which is open only to non- motorized boats outside of the hunt season (but closed from May 1 - July 1 for nesting). 


Overnight stays are allowed in two areas within the refuge boundary - on E Division Rd, 3 miles off Hunter Rd., and about 9 miles North on Hunter Rd from it intersects with the main refuge entry road.  The overnight area is just before you cross the canal near the Center Rd intersection.  Both sites are near vault toilets, but that is all for development and comfort - these are primitive sites with no other features! There are no fees for overnight stays, but there is a 7 day limit.


Hiking is allowed in all areas open to the public, as are wildlife observation and photography. Even though we encourage you to explore and discover, these activties should be limited during nesting season from April to June. If a parent bird is disturbed from the nest, it may not return and the young could die. Please use your best judgement in observing sensitive and vulnerable wildlife and birds in any natural area.  


If you find any sick, injured, apparently orphaned/abandoned wildlife, please do not pick it up!  It is against the law to move or transport most wild animals found on the refuge; please contact the main refuge office at 775/423-5128 immediately, or call the NV Dept of Wildlife at 775/423-3171. 


Sport hunting is permitted on the refuge in accordance with all NV state and federal regulations. Hunters should consult the Nevada state hunting regulations. Special refuge hunting regulations also apply.


Firearms and other weapons are subject to state law. At all times, persons possessing, transporting, or carrying firearms on the refuge must comply with all provisions of state law. Firearms may only be discharged in accordance with refuge hunting regulations, i.e., only during the lawful pursuit of game during legal seasons. No target shooting is allowed! 


Other prohibitions on the refuge include: dogs allowed only on a 6ft leash (except during waterfowl season); no off-road vehicles or driving; and no collecting of plants, animals, minerals, antlers and artifacts.


Lodging is available in Fallon, NV. Listings are available through the Fallon Convention and Visitors Bureau at (775)423-4556. Telephone, gas and supplies are available year-round in Fallon.


For driving directions or current weather conditions, please click on the links to the right Featured Pages. 

For questions about refuge recreation, please email us at the Contact link below, or call the refuge office at 775/423-5128 ext. 228. 


It's also very important to let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.  Preparation is the key to a fun and worthwhile adventure at Stillwater NWR!



*  Most of Nevada is in an ‘extreme drought condition’ - many wetlands are no longer wet, agriculture communities are suffering reduced production and even crop loss.

* An ‘extreme drought’ is caused by extended periods with little or no rain and limited snow pack.

* Droughts have an overall negative effect on wildlife refuges:

    o The lack of water in wetlands diminishes the amount of foods available for wildlife.

    o Droughts mean a significant loss of quality habitat that shelter wildlife. Without shelter, water birds become easy prey for predators like coyotes.

    o Droughts mean an increased chance of disease as water levels drop and temperatures rise in late summer

    o Water birds depend on wetlands in the Lahontan Valley not only as winter habitat but for spring migration and breeding.

* Dry wetlands do not produce food for ducks, geese and swans; they may be feed in farm fields, gardens, and drain ditches.

* Wetlands at wildlife refuges act as natural water filters and help to recharge aquifers. Drought conditions eliminate this function.


                      What does extreme drought mean for Stillwater NWR? 


* Stillwater NWR is fed by the Carson River drainage, which originates in the Sierra Nevada range of Eastern California. Due to less than 30% snowpack in the range    during winter 2013-14, the refuge was allocated 45% of their normal water delivery from the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District (TCID) for the 2014 irrigation          season.


* The drought is resulting in reductions, or in some cases, the elimination, of water to the refuge. The challenge is to find ways to maximize benefits for wildlife but     also to allow public uses as appropriate.


* A drought can affect Stillwater NWR in many ways:

    o Less food for wildlife all year - spring, summer, fall and winter.

    o Increased stress on all wildlife including waterfowl.

    o Less wildlife survival.

    o Less or no water for wetlands--sanctuaries, hunting areas, and wildlife observation spots.


* The Foxtail Lake auto-tour route in the refuge sanctuary will be closed from October 10 – 20 to lessen disturbance to migratory birds during the first week of   waterfowl hunt season. No vehicle, foot or other human traffic will be allowed on this route.


* Through a cooperative effort with the Bureau of Reclamation, TCID and area wildlife entities (Canvasback Gun Club, Carson Lake & Pasture/Greenhead Club, NV   Department of Wildlife), water deliveries to the wetlands were split between Spring and Fall; Stillwater NWR received 60% of their allocation from April to July; the remainder will be delivered September 1 until mid-October. The refuge sanctuary will hold about 65% of this water, the remainder will flow to South Nutgrass lake in the hunt area.

Last Updated: Aug 29, 2014
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