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Visitor Activities

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A variety of wildlife-dependent recreation activities are available for visitors at Stillwater NWR! Take a virtual visit with the new Google Trekker to get started on your refuge tour. 

Or, download the new Smartphone app from Discover Nature Apps for Stillwater NWR, and learn the hidden secrets of the plants, animals, people and habitats that call this area home. The app is free from Google Play or iTunes stores, and is guided by GPS points on the refuge where you can play the scavenger hunt Clue Challenge for points and prizes.

  • Wildlife Viewing

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    If you enjoy getting outdoors and looking for wildlife, a visit to your nearest national wildlife refuge offers something for everyone!  From birding to viewing speedy pronghorn antelope or slower desert spiny lizards, wildlife observation is the most popular activity for visitors to Stillwater refuge.

    From every state and all parts of the globe, about 40 million people visit each year, especially for the chance to see concentrations of wildlife and birds.  The National Wildlife Refuge System’s extensive trail system, boardwalks, observation decks, hunting and photography blinds encourage visitors to discover America’s best wildlife spectacles.  

    For more information about wildlife observation opportunities at Stillwater NWR, contact Visitor Services Manager at 775/423-5128 ext. 228.

  • General Refuge Hunting Information


    General waterfowl season runs from October 8, 2016 to January 22, 2017. There is no check station, permit or fee to hunt at Stillwater NWR. All state and Federal migratory bird seasons, rules and bag limits are in effect. Non-toxic shot is mandatory. Goose Lake and South Nutgrass are the only units in the hunt area with water for this season.  

    Boating is allowed only during waterfowl hunt season, north of Division Rd. Each wetland unit has specific boat types allowed. For the 2016-2017 season, Goose Lake and South Nutgrass Lake are open to all boat types, including airboats. Both units have boat launch ramps, however, there are shallow areas and submerged sand bars and vegetation, so use caution when launching and operating in the dark. 

    Airboats are required to obtain a free special use permit from the Stillwater NWR office prior to use. You can download the permit application here, or under the Permits tab in the VISIT section (blue tab on home page) or call 775/423-5128 Mon - Fri. NOTE: Airboats are not allowed on the water until 1 hour after shoot time, on opening day only. No pre-hunt season scouting by boat is allowed.

    Hunting on Stillwater NWR is allowed during regulated seasons throughout the year for big game, small game, upland and migratory birds. Please check NV state hunting regulations and license, permit and tag requirements before planning a hunt trip. The refuge hunt area is open north of Division Road, about 6 miles north on Hunter Road, after you enter the refuge. 

    Remember, there is a 200 yard 'Retrieval Zone' from the north side of Division Road. You may walk through this area to reach the hunt site, but no loaded firearms are allowed. Hunting is not allowed from Division Rd to the south as this is refuge sanctuary. 

    Hunting is limited by habitat conditions such as surface water, food, cover and weather. Resident wildlife species such as desert mule deer, rabbits, upland game birds and coyotes can be hunted as well. Hunting seasons are in conjunction with state of Nevada seasons and regulations for all big and upland game species and migratory birds.   

    Be aware of refuge-specific restrictions for non-toxic ammunition during the different hunt seasons.  No center-fire weapons (rifles, handguns) are allowed to be discharged within the refuge boundary; target shooting is strictly prohibited.  Waterfowl, upland and big game hunting is only allowed with non-toxic shot or slugs. Archery and muzzle-loader weapons are also permitted for certain seasons.

    Hunting is an important wildlife management tool that we recognize as a healthy, traditional outdoor pastime, deeply rooted in America’s heritage.  Hunting can instill a unique understanding and appreciate of wildlife, their behavior, and their habitat needs.

    As practiced on refuges, hunting, trapping and fishing do not pose a threat to wildlife populations, and in some instances are necessary for sound wildlife management.  For example, because their natural predators are gone, deer populations will often grow too large for the refuge habitat to support. Hunting programs can promote understanding and appreciation of natural resources and their management on lands and waters in the Refuge System.

    To find out more about hunting opportunities, seasons and regulations on Stillwater NWR, call 775/423-5128 ext. 228 Tues - Sat., or stop by our office at 1020 New River Parkway #305 in Fallon Monday - Friday, 8 - 4:30.

  • Environmental Education

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    National Wildlife Refuges serve many purposes, and one of our most important roles is as outdoor classrooms to teach about wildlife and natural resources.  Many refuges offer environmental education programs for a variety of audiences.  Refuges provide unique and exciting outdoor environments – excellent locations for hands-on learning activities.  Thousands of youth and adult groups visit every year to learn about a specific topic on wildlife, habitat, or ecological processes.

    Is your school, youth, environmental or other group interested in learning more about the wildlife, plants, habitats and ecology of a particular national wildlife refuge?  Contact or visit Stillwater NWR to check on program availability and reservation policies.  Refuges are wild places, and we want to teach you more about them!

  • Interpretation

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    Refuge System interpretation programs provide opportunities for visitors to make their own connections to the natural world.  From self-guided walks to ranger-led programs, many national wildlife refuges help visitors learn more about the wildlife and habitat behind the landscapes.

    In addition to staff and volunteers presenting programs to audiences, refuges use a variety of exhibits, signs, brochures, and electronic media to communicate natural history stories to visitors.  Printed and virtual information is often available on many topics, including plants and animals, seasonal migrations, habitats, refuge management strategies, and endangered species.

    Through Refuge System interpretation programs, you can learn about the ancient People of the Stillwater Marsh, the 'Elegant Pigs' - Tundra Swans, the disappearing Carson River, Farming for Wildlife in the marsh, and much more!

  • Photography


    Perhaps the fastest growing activity on national wildlife refuges in the past ten years has been wildlife photography.  That’s not surprising – the digital camera technology explosion and cell phones with high quality camera functions and social media apps are increasing the number of nature photographers at a rapid rate.  You don’t need to purchase expensive equipment or have any experience to get started.  A small camera or basic cell phone will do just fine for most visitors.

    Nearly 12 million people visit outdoor areas each year to photograph wildlife, and national wildlife refuges naturally are at the top of the list.  Refuges provide enhanced opportunities to photograph wildlife in natural habitats by providing platforms, brochures, interpreters, viewing areas, and tour routes.  Wildlife photography is a high-priority activity in the Refuge System.  We welcome beginning and expert photographers alike to record their outdoor adventures on film, memory card or internal hard drive! Feel free to share your refuge videos or photos with us, and you might end up on this website! Send to:

    Stillwater NWR has two observation/photo blinds available for public use at no charge and on a first-come/served basis. They are located along the public access roads in the refuge sanctuary: one is at Tule Trail, about 1/4mi north up Hunter Rd. on the left, just after you enter the refuge.  The blind is about 1/2 way down the walk trail - if the flag is raised on the outside, it means the blind is occupied and to proceed carefully so as not to disturb the wildlife or user. Click the link for a new virtual tour experience from Google Trekker; 3 options can be accessed by clicking on the yellow Street View icon in the lower right corner: Tule Trail, Foxtail Boardwalk, Stillwater Point.

    The second photo blind is on the Foxtail Lake auto tour route, just West of the covered pavilion; you will see a pullout on the left with a sign for Photo Blind Parking. A short 200yd walk path leads to the blind on the edge of Foxtail Lake.  Again, if the flag is raised, the blind is occupied and you should wait until it is vacated before walking closer so as not to disturb their experience.

    A telephoto lens at least 300mm is almost a requirement on this refuge because the distances are so great, with flat terrain and very little relief in topography. Early morning and evening hours are the best as the heat waves distort distant objects as the sun rises and temperatures warm, even in the winter months.

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Page Photo Credits — Credit: USFWS
Last Updated: Oct 18, 2016
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