Wildlife Observation and Photography

Yellow Warbler

The geography of the area makes it such an ideal wildlife observation and birding area. Surrounded by desert type habitats and the Ruby Mountains, it is a quiet, serene destination.  Enjoy a peaceful day on the refuge looking, listening and discovering. View our Wildlife Checklist for a complete list of species known to occur on the Refuge.

Auto Tour

A portion of the northern half of the Refuge is transected by dikes that separate management units and allow for a moderate amount of water control.  These dikes form an auto tour in this section of the refuge making it possible for visitors to view wildlife from their vehicles.  Some dikes are not open to vehicle traffic, but foot traffic is allowed.  Long Dike, the north-south section of the autotour, is seasonally closed to vehicles from about mid-May to mid-June to accommodate Canadian Geese and their newly hatched goslings which waddle all over the dike in this season.  Entry to the auto tour is at Bressman Cabin to the north of the headquarters office and Brown Dike access just south of the Gallagher State Fish Hatchery.  

Photo Blinds

Photo blinds are available, by reservation. Both of the photo blinds look out on water impoundments, making waterfowl the most likely photograph subjects. The blind in Unit 10 (between Bressman Cabin and Long Dike Access Road) faces East, so it is best used in the afternoon. The photo blind in Unit 21 (near the Eastern edge of Brown Dike) faces West so is best used in the mornings. There currently is no daily limit to the number of days you can reserve a photo blind and reservations are not required, but recommended. Call our refuge headquarters or e-mail us for more information or reservations.


Most of the marsh is a mosaic of water and land, with very little open water. The largest expanses of open water are at the south end of the marsh. A viewing platform at Narciss Boat Landing makes it possible to get a little bit above the marsh to see the wildlife and open vistas of the area. Two viewfinders are available on the platform to enhance your observations. Additionally there are areas along highway 767 or on dirt roads outside the refuge boundaries that provide higher observation points on the marsh.


An entirely different perspective on the marsh may be found in a boat.  Please check the seasons and regulations in our boating section before you launch.