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Visitor Activities

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A variety of activities are available for visitors to enjoy at Stillwater NWR!

  • Guided Refuge Tours Begin!

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    Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge has scheduled 5 free guided public tours, beginning Saturday, October 4 at 9am and continuing once a month through February.

    “Early Fall and Winter are a great time of year to observe migrating birds and resident wildlife on the refuge, even in this drought year” stated Visitor Services Manager Susan Sawyer. “Animals tend to concentrate near the limited water sources on the refuge, and may be easier to observe.”

    But wildlife and birds aren’t the only reason to take one of these special tours, Sawyer said. Visitors will 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, refuge projects and all will learn how to plan for and get the most out of any future refuge visits.  Sawyer stated: “We want people to feel comfortable in visiting Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge, and show that it is not the middle of nowhere – we want our public to get to know what makes this place special and why it became a National Wildlife Refuge sixty-five years ago”.

    Transportation is provided through a grant received from the US Fish and Wildlife Service Pacific Southwest Regional Office in Sacramento. The tours are open to everyone. Tours meet at the refuge information kiosk at the end of Stillwater Road, 12 miles east of Fallon on State Route 116, and last two and a half hours. Seats are limited to 16 people 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, and there will be field guides and optics available to borrow from the refuge.

    Other tour dates are November 1, December 6, January 31 and February 14; times will vary.

    Call Stillwater NWR at 775-423-5128 ext. 228 for more information and to reserve tour seats. Deadline to register for each tour is noon the day before.

  • Waterfowl 2014-15 Hunt Season News

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    Waterfowl hunting will be limited this year due to extreme drought conditions throughout Nevada. Stillwater NWR received less than 40% of the normal water deliveries through the irrigation district, as a result of less than 30% snowpack in the Sierra Nevada range during winter 2013-14.


    South Nutgrass Lake is the only wetland unit in the hunt zone to receive water this hunt season; water is currently filling the Rice Landing boat launch and it may be usable; Olano's Landing is still dry.  Use extreme caution as submerged objects, vegetation and sand bars could be dangerous.

    Water will continue filling this unit until mid-October; be aware of quickly changing water levels on a daily basis and use caution when walking across wet or muddy areas as the soils are saturated below the surface causing you to sink in the thick mud. Use a walking stick or other means to gauge water depth.


    The new accessible walkway and multi-use platform at S. Nutgrass will NOT be open for public use this year as it remains under construction. Do not attempt to walk on or use this structure.

    Also as a result of the drought and associated stress to migratory birds and refuge wildlife, the Foxtail Lake auto tour route will be closed to all public access from October 10 - 20, 2014.

    If you are a dog owner, please read the article in the link below for an important health warning about a bacterial infection common in warm weather and shallow water, both of which the refuge experiences in the early Fall hunt season.

    Learn More
  • General Refuge Hunting Information


    Hunting is one of the more popular wildlife-dependent recreation activities available at Stillwater NWR.  From waterfowling to big game, opportunities are available from early Fall to Spring. Migratory waterfowl (ducks, geese and Tundra Swans) are somewhat limited by habitat conditions such as available 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.  Please call the Complex office before making a visit as roads, weather and wildlife conditions change frequently.

    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.


    Click on the link below for the most recent waterfowl aerial survey conducted by Nevada Waterfowl Association on Sept. 24, 2014.


    To find out more about hunting opportunities, seasons and regulations on Stillwater NWR, call 775/423-5128 ext. 228.

    Learn More
  • Wildlife Viewing

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    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

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    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

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    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 population explosion and cell phones with ever-improving picture-taking abilities 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! 

Page Photo Credits — Credit: USFWS
Last Updated: Sep 30, 2014
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