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Plan Your Visit

Ash-throated Flycatcher

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

Visitor opportunities at Sutter NWR are limited to viewing from Hughes Road, a seasonal walking trail, and hunting within the designated hunt area.

While visiting Sutter NWR, consider also visiting the Sacramento NWR which is about 50 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.

The Complex provides numerous recreational opportunities to over 165,000 visitors every year. People enjoy viewing the large flocks of wintering waterfowl through driving, hiking, photography, or hunting. 


  • Sacramento NWR = auto tour and trails are open 1 hour before sunrise to 1 hour after sunset
    • Visitor Center/Headquarters
      • Winter Hours (Nov-Feb) 9am-4pm Tuesday-Sunday
      • Spring-Fall Hours (Mar-Oct) 9am-4pm Monday-Friday
      • Visitor Center/Headquarters are closed on federal holidays  
  • Delevan NWR = viewing is limited to the bordering county roads.  Refuge entrance is limited to hunting and a photography blind (by reservation).
  • Colusa NWR = auto tour and trails are open 1 hour before sunrise to 1 hour after sunset
  • Sutter NWR Seasonal Trail (open Feb 15-Jun 30) = 1 hour before sunrise to 1 hour after sunset
  • Sacramento River NWR = 2 hours before sunrise to 1.5 hours after sunset
  • Llano Seco (part of the North Central Wildlife Management Area) = trails are open 1 hour before sunrise to 1 hour after sunset

What to Do?

Check out the numerous visitor activities on the Complex, which include wildlife observation, photography, hiking, driving the auto tours, hunting, fishing, and more! Find out about some of our other visitor activities.

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.

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 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 1/2 mile trail that connects 2 viewing platforms.  The Sacramento River NWR has 7 different Units that have over 17 miles of trails.  Visit the Trails webpage 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 Tuesday through Sunday 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.

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.  Visit our Wildlife page to find recent sightings, waterfowl survey summaries, wildlife checklists, and other information.

Plan a Hunting Trip: Portions of Sacramento NWR, Delevan NWR, Colusa NWR, and Sutter NWR are open to waterfowl and upland game bird hunting.  Please visit the Hunting on the Complex webpage for more information.  Portions of the Sacramento River NWR are open to migratory game bird, upland game, and big game hunting.  Please visit the Sacramento River NWR Hunting page for more infomation.

Sacramento NWR Complex Visitor Services Maps:  

Entrance Fee

The Sutter NWR has no entrance fee.  The Colusa 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 pass's 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


Last Updated: Dec 10, 2013
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