Girl with camera

The Sacramento NWRC is a great place for photographers of all ages and skills. The auto tours and walking trails provide excellent photographic opportunities. With the changing seasons and wide range of habitats, the Complex provides a wealth of images for you to find. 

  • Locations

    Visitor Binos

    From October through FebruarySacramento and Colusa NWRs and the Llano Seco Unit provide great opportunities to photograph large flocks of waterfowl along the auto tours and hiking trails and sandhill cranes near Llano Seco.
         - Sacramento NWR Visitor Area Brochure (pdf)
         - Colusa NWR Visitor Area Brochure (pdf)
         - Llano Seco Unit Visitor Area Brochure (pdf)

    From February 15 - June 30, additional trails in portions of the hunt area on Sacramento and Sutter NWRs open for the public to provide additional opportunities for wildlife observation and photography. Visitors may utilize some of the in-ground, concrete hunt blinds on Sacramento NWR on a first-come basis.

         - Sacramento NWR Logan Creek Trail Brochure (pdf)
         - Sutter NWR Seasonal Trails Brochure (pdf)

    From March 15 - September 10, an additional 1.5 loop called Pool 2 is opened on the Sacramento NWR auto tour. This provides summer photography opportunities including nesting grebes and ruddy ducks. No bikes, limited passing areas, and visitors must stay in their vehicles.

    -Sacramento NWR Visitor Area Brochure (pdf)

    Year-Round, trails on seven of the units of the Sacramento River NWR provide great opportunities to see migrant songbirds and resident mammals throughout all seasons. 
         - Sacramento River NWR Brochures (link to webpage)

  • Photography Blinds

    Photoblind 1

    The Complex has four popular photography blinds.

    Blinds are AVAILABLE BY RESERVATION ONLY from mid-October through March....
        - Blind #1 (pdf map location) at Sacramento NWR
        - Blind #2 (pdf map location) at Sacramento NWR
        - Blind #3 (pdf map location) at Colusa NWR
        - Blind #4 (pdf map location) at Delevan NWR
        - See photos of all blinds    

    Reservation Process for Fall/Winter Use (October/November-March):

    1. Read the Photographer's Guidelines (pdf, 2021-22 version) for specific information on reservations, fees, access and descriptions.

    2. Fill out the Reservation Form (pdf, must read the Photographer's Guidelines first). If you do not have Adobe-editing software, please print the reservation form, fill it out, then return via mail, scan, email or fax. For 2021-2022, we recommend emailing the form since staff are working from home.

    3. Reservation Applications must be received between Sept 1 - Oct 1. A lottery will take place in early October.

    4. Applicants will be notified by email or phone in early October. A $25 fee for each reservation must be paid by October 22 to confirm blind date selection.

    5. Following the completion of the first lottery, a List of Remaining Open Photo Blinds (pdf) will be posted after Oct. 1, and you may follow the application process again beginning after October 2.   

    Reservation Process for Spring Use (Colusa Blind #3 only): 

    Depending on pond management, the Colusa NWR photography blind is open for photographers during the spring. It will be a first-come, first-serve reservation process. There are no restrictions to the day of the week. Nesting wood ducks are often possible. See the guidelines for the reservation process. Not open in 2021.



    Sometimes photography blinds become available due to lack of reservation or cancellation. You may apply on a first-come, first-served basis by calling Sacramento NWR Complex (530-934-2801) or emailing and placing your name, phone number and email address on a wait-list. Due to the lag time it takes to fill blinds, there is a limit to the number of names on the wait-list.

  • Photography Programs

    Refuge Manager at Gate

    From November through March, photography programs are offered at a variety of refuges to photography wildlife, sunrise, sunset, wildflowers, and more. Whether you are a seasoned or casual nature photographer, these tours are geared to varied interest and skill levels.

    Learn More
  • Special Use Permits

    Bald Eagle by Steve Emmons

    Commercial filming (audio, video, photographic products of monetary value) requires a special use permit.

    Learn More