Rules and Regulations

Birding Mike Morrison 512x219

There are many fun, interesting, and educational activities you can do at Deer Flat. Because Deer Flat is a National Wildlife Refuge, there are rules and regulations in place to reduce disturbance to wildlife and habitat. Be safe and have an enjoyable experience!

The refuge is open to the public all year during daylight hours only. Please help protect wildlife and their habitats by obeying all regulations. Some areas are closed to public use, so please observe signs. Access is allowed through designated accesses only.

Refuge Brochure 

Snake River Islands Unit

Snake River Islands Unit maps

All refuge islands are closed to all entry from February 1 to June 14 to protect nesting wildlife. Several heron and gull-nesting islands are closed to all entry from February 1 to June 30. Signs indicate seasonal island closure dates.

Lake Lowell Unit

Map of Lake Lowell Unit


Hiking is allowed seasonally off of designated trails as follows: East Side and South Side Recreation Areas, all year; Gotts Point, 2/1-9/30; Murphy’s Neck, 3/15-9/30; North Side Recreation Area, 8/1-1/31. More information about hiking.

Hunting and Fishing Regulations

Hunting and fishing limits and seasons are set by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, as appropriate. Contact them for current hunting and fishing regulations. See Hunting and Fishing for more information about Refuge-specific regulations on those activities. Live, nonnative aquatic bait is prohibited.


Trapping is prohibited on the Refuge. No trapping is allowed on the Refuge. Trappers are allowed to use the Snake River Islands to access trapping sites below high water that are under the State's jurisdiction.


Between April 15 and September 30, motorized and non-motorized boats may be used. Airboats and air-thrust boats are prohibited. Boat-launching facilities are located at the Lower Dam Recreation Area, the east and west ends of the Upper Dam, Access No. 1, and Access No. 7. All launching facilities are subject to closure due to low water levels. Between October 1 and April 14, human-powered boats and float tubes may be used, but only in the areas 200 yards in front of the Upper and Lower Dams. Boat ramps are blocked during this time.

Boating is permitted during daylight hours only. Please observe all No Wake Zones. Some are indicated by buoys; however, the No Wake Zone along the south shore is not marked by buoys. It is a 200-yard buffer measured from the edge of the shoreline or the vegetation, whichever is closer to the center of the lake.

Some areas, marked by signs or buoys, are permanently or seasonally closed to protect wildlife nesting and foraging habitat. Boaters may not anchor on or pull onto permanently or seasonally closed lands.

Refuge management encourages the use of CARB star-rated motors at the level of two stars and above to minimize negative impacts to water quality.

Kiteboarders and windsurfers may launch from any open shoreline, but must comply with all No Wake Zones.


Swimming and other water play is allowed from April 15 to September 30. Swimmers are encouraged to use designated swimming beaches at the East Upper Dam boat launch and at the Lower Dam Recreation Area. No lifeguards are present. Swimming and other water play is not allowed around fishing facilities or immediately adjacent to boat launches.

Organized Group Activities

Limited organized group activities are allowed, but only at the Lower Dam Recreation Area. For event requirements, contact the refuge.


Jogging is allowed in the Lower Dam Recreation Area and on trails and roads in the North Side and East Side Recreation Areas. Groups of more than ten joggers require a Special Use Permit. Competitive events are prohibited.

Biking and Horseback Riding

Biking and horseback riding are allowed on designated multiuse trails and maintained roads in the North Side and East Side Recreation Areas. Groups of more than ten bicyclists or horses and riders require a Special Use Permit. Competitive events are prohibited. 


Pets are allowed on designated multiuse trails, on maintained roads, and in the Lower Dam Recreation Area as long as they are on a physical leash (6 feet long or less) at all times. Pet waste must be promptly removed. Hunting dogs may be off leash while actively hunting, but they must remain under strict voice control.


Target shooting is prohibited at all times. The use or possession of air guns, spears, gigs, paint-ball weapons, or other non-firearm weapons is prohibited.

Prohibited Activities

Glass containers, open fires, fireworks, camping, overnight parking, driving a motorized vehicle off of roads, using radio-controlled vehicles and vessels, using unmanned aerial vehicles, using metal detectors, gathering wood, dog training, and collecting plants, animals, rocks, or other specimens are prohibited.