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Rules and Regulations

512 RaccoonThere are lots of fun, interesting and educational things you can do on our refuges. 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. There are plenty of activities on the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex for you to enjoy. Be safe and have fun! 

All areas of the North Central Valley WMA are closed to public entry unless otherwise explicitly posted as a nature trail and parking area. 

The following rules apply except where otherwise are posted:

Visitors to National Wildlife Refuges must comply with all applicable local, State, Federal regulations and signs.

Hours of Operation

Go to our "Plan Your Visit" page to find hours for the auto tour routes, trails, and Visitor Center. 

Fees and Permits

The Sacramento NWR has a $6 daily fee to use any part of the refuge. Holders of a Federal Duck Stamp and various Interagency Passes get in for free. Visit the our "Permits" page for more fee information.

State / Federal permits are required for activities that are traditionally highly regulated (such as hunting or fishing) or are otherwise prohibited. Common examples include: A refuge specific Special Use Permit (SUP) is required to enter closed areas or conduct activities that are otherwise prohibited (ex. wildlife trapping and tagging). For more information contact the refuge manager for the area where the proposed activity will occur at the Complex Headquarters: (530)934-2801. Visit the our "Permits" page for more fee and permits information.

Hunters must comply with State of California license requirements and regulations.  See State of California Department of Fish and Wildlife website for more information:

Auto Tour

While on the Sacramento and Colusa NWR auto tours, visitors are required to stay in their vehicles. The Sacramento NWR auto tour has 3 park-and-stretch areas to allow visitors to get out of their vehicles. This is a citable offense with fines up to $275.

Respect Closed Zones

National Wildlife Refuges were created for wildlife. Areas throughout the refuge are designated as closed or restricted-use areas to protect wildlife or for public safety. Please read and adhere to the regulations identified by signs. 

  • OPEN AreasAreas open to public use will be posted as such. Road entrances to public use areas have a large brown refuge sign, open gate, and posted hours. Areas open to the public include designated auto tour routes, nature trails, and parking lots. Areas open to the public are listed on the refuge public use maps – follow the “MAPS” tab on the right side of this web page. Public use areas are DAY USE ONLY.
  • CLOSED Areas – Areas closed to the public include all property that is not explicitly posted as an area open to the public. Closed area boundaries are posted along accessible areas with signs that may list the following: “UNAUTHORIZED ENTRY PROHIBITED”; “AREA BEYOND THIS SIGN CLOSED All public entry prohibited.” Visitors must stay out of posted closed areas. Visitors that enter posted closed areas are trespassing and are subject to law enforcement action including citations.


Hunting is allowed in designated areas with appropriate licenses and permits. Visit the Sacramento NWR Complex hunting page and the Sacramento River NWR hunting page for more information.


Dogs are allowed where visitors are allowed. Dogs must be on-leash (no more than 6 ft long) while on trails or parking lots, except for authorized hunting activities under the immediate control of a licensed hunter. Owners/handlers are responsible for disposal of dog droppings on refuge public use concentration areas such as trails and parking lots. National Wildlife Refuges provide habitat for native wildlife. Pets (including waterfowl) are not allowed to be released on the refuge.


 Speed on the refuge is 15 mph on the entrance road and 25 mph on the auto tour.  

The Complex is committed to providing equal opportunities for all of our visitors. Refuge-specific brochures are available in Braille and audio versions. A CD is available in the visitor center describing the auto tour of the Sacramento NWR. 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.

Camping and Fires

Camping is not permitted on the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Along the Sacramento River, camping is permitted on gravel bars for up to 7 days during a 30 day period. For waterfowl hunting, overnight stay is permitted in a vehicle or RV in designated areas. Tents are prohibited. No person may build or maintain fires except in portable gas stoves. Visit the plan your visit page for information on some local areas to spend the night.


Fishing is permitted on Packer Lake (Sacramento River NWR) and on the Sacramento River. Follow state regulations.


The Sacramento River NWR permits bicycles from May 15 - August 15 on the trails of the following units: Rio Vista, Pine Creek, Capay, Sul Norte, Packer, and Drumheller. Bicycles are permitted on the Colusa and Sacramento NWR auto tours between May 15 - August 31. Visit the Bicycling page for more information.

PERMITTED Activities: 


  • Use of posted auto tour routes, nature trails, and parking areas
  • Pets on leash when outside vehicle
  • Day use only


PROHIBITED Activities:

ALL areas of the refuges are CLOSED to public entry unless explicitly posted as a public use area. Visitors must comply with ALL posted rules and regulations, in addition to what is listed below. Except where otherwise permitted / posted:

  • No trespassing in posted closed areas
  • No entry behind closed gates or fences
  • No night use
  • No travel off of designated public use road or trail
  • No parking outside of designated parking lots
  • No pets off leash when outside of vehicles
  • No dog field trials or dog training that involves being off-leash
  • No walking on auto tour routes
  • No horseback riding
  • No camping
  • No fires or open flame cooking grills
  • No weapons (except shotguns used during lawful hunting activities as authorized by permit)
  • No discharge of firearms (except during lawful hunting activities as authorized by permit)
  • No take, disturbance or collection of wildlife or plants
  • No search for or removal of objects of antiquity or other valued objects
  • No prospecting or mining
  • No littering
  • No removal of any property from refuge
  • No feeding wildlife
  • No spotlighting
  • No interference with persons engaged in authorized activities
  • No alcohol, illegal drugs including marijuana 
Last Updated: Apr 20, 2016
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