Rules and Regulations


Visitors are encouraged to enjoy the activities offered on the Refuge while in observance of these rules.  Their creation is intended to protect wildlife, wildlife habitat and the safety of our visitors and staff.  The Refuge is also subject to Federal, State, and local laws and regulations.  Be safe and have fun!

Visiting Hours:  The Refuge is open daily from 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset.  The Headquarters/Visitor Center is open from 7 am to 3:30 pm, Monday through Friday except Federal holidays.

Access and Parking: Motor vehicles are permitted on improved Refuge roads only.  Roads marked as "Closed" or "Authorized Vehicles Only" are closed to the public. If the gate at a parking area is shut, the road is closed to vehicular traffic, and is only open for walk-in access to hunters participating in a legal hunting activity. Parking is permitted in designated parking areas only.  Overnight RV parking is prohibited.  Note that the condition and closure of public roads are subject to seasonal and weather-related factors.  Contact Refuge staff for information about current road conditions.

ATVs and Snowmobiles:  ATVs and snowmobiles may not be used on any portion of the Refuge.

Hunting: Hunting is only permitted on the Refuge Units B and C (species specific) and is authorized up to 1 hour before sunrise. Hunting is prohibited within 100 feet of all roads and parking areas.  All State regulations in addition to Refuge regulations apply, including State shooting hours for Jackson County. Hunting of the following migratory game birds is allowed in Unit B (not allowed in Unit C) in accordance with Colorado State regulations, but these hunts are limited to shotgun hunting with non-toxic shot only: duck, coot, merganser, Canada goose, snipe, Virginia and Sora rail, and mourning dove.  Refuge Units B and C are open to sage grouse and rabbit hunting in accordance with Colorado State regulation, but these hunts are limited to shotgun hunting with non-toxic shot only. Pronghorn hunting is open in Units B and C in accordance with Colorado State hunting regulations. There is a Limited Draw Elk hunt in Units B and C during Colorado State Elk seasons 1 through 4. Hunters must possess a Unit 17 or 171 tag in addition to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife selection letter for Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge. Selection preference is given to youth and disabled hunters. Selected hunters are required to attend a pre-hunt meeting at the Refuge prior to participating in the hunt. Questions about licensing or the draw for the special elk hunt should be addressed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Steamboat Springs, Colorado at 970-870-2197. The Refuge is closed to all other hunting including: Moose, Deer, Prairie Dogs and Coyotes. The Refuge is closed to all hunting after December 31st each year.  (Please note that the the date on which the Refuge closes to all hunting is incorrectly stated at the bottom of the Hunting Seasons section in the Hunting and Fishing Brochure.)  Refuge Units A and D in addition to the Brocker Overlook Area are closed to all hunting. See Refuge map for details.

Hunting and Fishing Brochure

Fishing:  Fishing is permitted at the Refuge along the Illinois River south of Jackson County Road 32. Fishing is not permitted north of Jackson County Road 32. No fishing is allowed on Refuge ponds.  All fishing is closed from June 1st through July 31st to protect nesting birds, during pronghorn rifle seasons and elk seasons 1-4 in Refuge Unit C and when the river is frozen. Use and possession of lead weights and live bait is unlawful on the Refuge. 

Hunting and Fishing Brochure

Hiking:  Hiking and walking are only allowed on the Moose-Goose Nature Trail and established roads open to vehicular traffic. Roads marked as "Closed" or "Authorized Vehicles Only" are closed to the public. 

Boating:  The use of boats and canoes is not allowed on the Refuge. 

Bicycling:  Bicycling is permitted on the Refuge, but is restricted to established roads open to vehicular traffic.  Roads marked as "Closed" or "Authorized Vehicles Only" are closed to the public.  Bicycles are prohibited on hiking trails.

Camping:  Camping is prohibited anywhere on the Refuge  All visitors must leave the Refuge at the end of each day.

Horseback Riding:  Limited horseback riding is permitted on the Refuge, but is restricted to travel on the gravel of established roads open to vehicular traffic.  Please call ahead before you arrive to check on road conditions and stay on the road as you ride.  Roads marked as "Closed" or "Authorized Vehicles Only" are closed to the public. Horses are prohibited on hiking trails.

Fires:  No fires of any type are permitted within the Refuge.

Littering:  Littering is prohibited on the Refuge.  Please carry out all trash from the Refuge.

Picnicking:  There are no public picnic facilities located on the Refuge.

Firearms: Persons possessing, transporting, or carrying firearms on National Wildlife Refuge System lands must comply with all provisions of State and local law.  Persons may only use (discharge) firearms in accordance with refuge regulations (50 CFR 27.42 and specific refuge regulations in 50 CFR Part 32).  Discharge of a firearm for any reason other than the legal taking of game animals is prohibited.

Pets: All pets must be leashed, with the exception of retrievers used for hunting during the appropriate hunting seasons.

Disturbance of Animal or Plant Life: Molesting, injuring, disturbing, or destroying any animal or plant, except properly taken fish or game in season, is prohibited.

Disturbance of Artifacts and Historic Items: Artifacts and historic items are protected on Refuge lands by Federal law.  It is unlawful to search for or remove these objects from Refuge lands.

Shed Hunting:  Shed hunting is not permitted on any portion of the Refuge.

Personal Conduct: Disorderly conduct is forbidden at all times.  Anyone who is obviously intoxicated will not be allowed to remain on the Refuge.  Possession of controlled substances is illegal.

If you have any questions about Rules & Regulations or Law Enforcement on the Refuge, please feel free to stop by Headquarters, call our Refuge staff at 970-723-8202 or send an email to: .