Rules and Regulations

Nighthawk sitting on a closed area sign

There are lots of fun, interesting, and educational things you can do on the refuge. Keep in mind, if an activity is not wildlife related and doesn’t help in the protection or understanding of wildlife or their habitat, there are probably refuge rules governing this activity.

Please check with refuge management staff before participating in an activity that could harm the environment or yourself. There are plenty of activities at Malheur for you to enjoy. Be safe and have fun!

There are a few activities that are not permitted on the Refuge because they may interfere with or detract from the management, conservation, or protection of Refuge fish, wildlife and cultural resources.


Year round hiking is permitted only on roads open to motorized vehicles and the following trails. Two short paths -- one at Buena Vista and one at Headquarters -- lead to overlooks. Additional trails are the Barnes Springs Foot Path near Frenchglen, and the public fishing loop near P Ranch. Hiking is also permitted along the banks of Krumbo Reservoir.

Please stay on designated trails.

No other refuge lands are open to hiking.

View our hiking brochure(pdf)

Bicycles and Horseback Riding

Bicycles and horseback riding are permitted on roads that are open to motorized vehicles. All other areas are closed.


Pets must be kept on a leash while on the refuge.
The use of trained hunting dogs is allowed for waterfowl and upland bird hunting.


Archery bows and firearms that are dismantled, unloaded and cased may be transported through the refuge on public roads. Persons possessing, transporting, or carrying firearms on National Wildlife Refuges must comply with all provisions of state and local law. Persons may only use (discharge) firearms in accordance with refuge regulations.

Prohibited Activities

Fires, swimming, camping, and collecting natural objects such as plants, animals, insects, minerals, antlers, and objects of antiquity (including Indian artifacts) are prohibited.


All-terrain vehicle use is prohibited on the refuge.

Recreational Boating

Non-motorized boats and boats with electric motors are permitted on Krumbo Reservoir.

Audio Playback is Not Allowed

Human activities on a refuge must be compatible with the primary wildlife purposes of each Refuge. The use of playback tapes is an issue of growing concern as the use of technology for birding and wildlife photography continues to increase and evolve. Some birders will use bird calls in the field to verify a call they have heard. They may play the call quietly so only they are able to hear it or use headphones, which minimize any potential impact on birds in the wild. However, regarding the use of playback tapes to entice or elicit a response from birds in the wild, there are two Refuge regulations that apply here; 50 CFR 27.51 prohibits disturbing and attempting to disturb wildlife on any national wildlife refuge; in addition, 50 CFR 27.72 prohibits “the operation or use of audio devices including radios, recording and playback devices, as to cause unreasonable disturbance to others in the vicinity.” Use of audio devices to lure birds would violate at least one if not both of these regulations. We discourage the use of playback tapes on Malheur NWR for the purpose of getting birds to respond since it can be disturbing to wildlife and other visitors and would be difficult if not impossible to avoid violating Refuge regulations in doing so.