Plan Your Visit

Rainbow over Bitter Creek NWR (Katie Chaplin/USFWS)

Although the Refuge is closed to the public, large portions of Bitter Creek NWR can be seen from Hudson Ranch Road, which bisects the Refuge. The Refuge encompasses the rolling foothills between the San Joaquin Valley and the coastal mountain range. Approximately two-thirds of the refuge is open grassland, providing valuable foraging habitat for California condors. Refuge visitors along Hudson Ranch Road may glimpse California condors soaring on warm thermal air currents or perched on steep hillsides, mule deer, tule elk, California quail, golden eagle, owls, and occasionally greater roadrunner.

The Refuge is currently closed to the public and has been since its establishment in 1985 due to the sensitive nature of the California Condor Recovery Program activities, sensitivity of its resources, and rugged terrain.  However, staff and partner-led guided interpretive tours allow for limited opportunities for the public to engage in wildlife viewing and photography. 


Friends of California Condors Wild and Free lead hikes at Bitter Creek NWR for events such as National Wildlife Refuge Week in October each year. Please check the homepage for the latest postings on guided hikes.


The part of the Refuge used for guided hiking must remain a safe viewing distance away from California condors to reduce interaction and contact. A small pull-off along the road allows visitors to safely park along the side of the road near the Refuge sign and engage in passive recreation such as bird watching. The Refuge is marked as closed to entry here, and posted signs continue along the road passing through the Refuge.


Wildlife-dependent recreation is also available on adjacent public lands, including the Carrizo Plain National Monument managed by the BLM, and the Los Padres National Forest, managed by the U.S. Forest Service.