Skip Navigation

Visitor Activities

refuge birders

A variety of wildlife-dependent recreation activities are available for visitors at Stillwater NWR!

  • Do the Stillwater Stomp!

    binoc group

    Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge offers FREE guided tours once a month, November - February. Sign up for a 'Romp in the (Dry) Swamp!' tour this season! Call 423-5128 ext. 228 for details.


    Fall and Winter are great times of year to observe migrating birds and resident wildlife on the refuge, even in the current drought year. Animals tend to concentrate near the limited water sources on the refuge, and may be easier to observe.

    Visitors take part in a virtual journey into the rich cultural past of the Stillwater marsh, from the days of the ‘Cat-Tail Eater’ Paiute people, to early ranching, water history, and modern-day refuge projects; visitors will learn how to plan for and get the most out of any future refuge visits.  

    Visitor Services Manager Susan Sawyer states: “We want people to feel comfortable visiting Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge, and show them we are not the middle of nowhere – our goal is for people to get to know this special place and why it became a National Wildlife Refuge in 1948”.

    The tours are open to everyone, especially those who have never visited before. Tours meet either at the refuge office in Fallon or at the refuge entry east of town, and take about 3 hours. Seats are limited on each tour.

    Weather can be unpredictable, so layered clothing is advised, along with sturdy shoes. Short stops and easy walks are planned at a few locations. Binoculars are recommended, with field guides and optics available to borrow from the refuge. Rain or snow cancels, tours will be rescheduled. 

    2015-2016 Refuge Tour Dates (may be changed due to weather or refuge conditions):

    Saturday, November 21

    Saturday, December 12

    Saturday, January 9

    Saturday, February 20

  • General Refuge Hunting Information


    General migratory waterfowl (ducks, geese and Tundra Swans) season is October 10, 2015 through January 24, 2016.  Nevada Youth Waterfowl Hunt day is Saturday, September 26, and open statewide to youth ages 10 - 15yrs. However, there will be NO WATER IN ANY WETLAND HUNT UNITS AT STILLWATER REFUGE DURING THE ENTIRE SEASON.  The hunt area will be open north of Division Road, but there will be a closure of the driving tour route located within the refuge sanctuary (closed to hunting) the first week of the season, October 9 - 19.  This closure will provide protected habitat and less disturbance to migratory waterfowl at a critical time in their journey, with very limited wetland habitat available this season. 

     When habitat is available, hunting is one of the more popular wildlife-dependent recreation activities at Stillwater NWR.  From waterfowling to big game stalking, hunting opportunities are available from early Fall to Spring. Huinting at Stillwater NWR is only allowed north of Division Road, about 6mi north up Hunter Road after you enter the refuge. 

    Hunting is limited by habitat conditions such as surface water, food, cover and weather. Resident wildlife species such as desert mule deer, rabbits, upland game birds and coyotes can be hunted as well. Hunting seasons are in conjunction with state of Nevada seasons and regulations for all big and upland game species and migratory birds.   

    Be aware of refuge-specific restrictions for non-toxic ammunition during the different hunt seasons.  No center-fire weapons (rifles, handguns) are allowed to be discharged within the refuge boundary; target shooting is strictly prohibited.  Waterfowl, upland and big game hunting is only allowed with non-toxic shot or slugs. Archery and muzzle-loader weapons are also permitted for certain seasons.

    Hunting is an important wildlife management tool that we recognize as a healthy, traditional outdoor pastime, deeply rooted in America’s heritage.  Hunting can instill a unique understanding and appreciate of wildlife, their behavior, and their habitat needs.

    As practiced on refuges, hunting, trapping and fishing do not pose a threat to wildlife populations, and in some instances are necessary for sound wildlife management.  For example, because their natural predators are gone, deer populations will often grow too large for the refuge habitat to support. Hunting programs can promote understanding and appreciation of natural resources and their management on lands and waters in the Refuge System.

    To find out more about hunting opportunities, seasons and regulations on Stillwater NWR, call 775/423-5128 ext. 228 or stop by our office at 1020 New River Parkway #305 in Fallon.

  • Wildlife Viewing

    binoc group

    If you enjoy getting outdoors and looking for wildlife, consider a visit to your nearest national wildlife refuge!  From birding to whale watching, from viewing speedy pronghorn antelope or slow-moving box turtles, wildlife observation is the most popular activity for refuge visitors.

    From every state and all parts of the globe, about 40 million people visit each year, especially for the chance to see concentrations of wildlife and birds.  The National Wildlife Refuge System’s extensive trail system, boardwalks, observation decks, hunting and photography blinds, fishing piers and boat launches encourage visitors to discover America’s best wildlife spectacles.  For more information about wildlife observation opportunities at Stillwater NWR, contact Visitor Services Manager at 775/423-5128 ext. 228.

  • Interpretation

    track thmb

    Refuge System interpretation programs provide opportunities for visitors to make their own connections to the natural world.  From self-guided walks to ranger-led programs, many national wildlife refuges help visitors learn more about the wildlife and habitat behind the landscapes.

    In addition to staff and volunteers presenting programs to audiences, refuges use a variety of exhibits, signs, brochures, and electronic media to communicate natural history stories to visitors.  Printed and virtual information is often available on many topics, including plants and animals, seasonal migrations, habitats, refuge management strategies, and endangered species.

    Through Refuge System interpretation programs, you can learn about the ancient People of the Stillwater Marsh, the 'Elegant Pigs' - Tundra Swans, the disappearing Carson River, Farming for Wildlife in the marsh, and much more!

  • Environmental Education

    KidsMarsh 250

    National Wildlife Refuges serve many purposes, and one of our most important roles is as outdoor classrooms to teach about wildlife and natural resources.  Many refuges offer environmental education programs for a variety of audiences.  Refuges provide unique and exciting outdoor environments – excellent locations for hands-on learning activities.  Thousands of youth and adult groups visit every year to learn about a specific topic on wildlife, habitat, or ecological processes.

    Is your school, youth, environmental or other group interested in learning more about the wildlife, plants, habitats and ecology of a particular national wildlife refuge?  Contact or visit Stillwater NWR to check on program availability and reservation policies.  Refuges are wild places, and we want to teach you more about them!

  • Photography


    Perhaps the fastest growing activity on national wildlife refuges in the past ten years has been wildlife photography.  That’s not surprising – the digital camera technology explosion and cell phones with high quality video functions are increasing the number of nature photographers at a rapid rate.  You don’t need to purchase expensive equipment or have any experience to get started.  A small camera or basic cell phone will do just fine for most visitors.

    Nearly 12 million people visit outdoor areas each year to photograph wildlife, and national wildlife refuges naturally are at the top of the list.  Refuges provide enhanced opportunities to photograph wildlife in natural habitats by providing platforms, brochures, interpreters, viewing areas, and tour routes.  Wildlife photography is a high-priority activity in the Refuge System.  We welcome beginning and expert photographers alike to record their outdoor adventures on film, memory card or internal hard drive! Feel free to share your refuge videos or photos with us, and you might end up on this website! Send to:


    Stillwater NWR has two observation/photo blinds available for public use at no charge and on a first-come/served basis. They are located along the public access roads in the refuge sanctuary: one is at Tule Trail, about 1/4mi north up Hunter Rd. on the left, just after you enter the refuge.  The blind is about 1/2 way down the walk trail - if the flag is raised on the outside, it means the blind is occupied and to proceed carefully so as not to disturb the wildlife or user.

    The second photo blind is on the Foxtail Lake auto tour route, just West of the covered pavilion; you will see a pullout on the left with a sign for Photo Blind Parking. A short 200yd walk path leads to the blind on the edge of Foxtail Lake.  Again, if the flag is raised, the blind is occupied and you should wait until it is vacated before walking closer so as not to disturb their experience.

    A telephoto lens at least 300mm is almost a requirement on this refuge because the distances are so great, with flat terrain and very little relief in topography. Early morning and evening hours are the best as the heat waves distort distant objects as the sun rises and temperatures warm, even in the winter months.

Page Photo Credits — Credit: USFWS
Last Updated: Sep 23, 2015
Return to main navigation