About Sutter National Wildlife Refuge

512 Sutter waterfowl flock

Sutter National Wildlife is part of the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex.  It is located about 50 miles north of the metropolitan area of Sacramento and about 12 miles southwest of Yuba City in Sutter County.  The refuge consists of about 2,591 acres consisting primarily of wetlands, with some grasslands and riparian habitats.


Sutter NWR was established in 1945 with funds from the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Act (today it is known as Federal Duck Stamp) and the Lea Act. It was established to provide feeding and nesting areas for migratory birds and alleviate crop depredation.

About 80% of the refuge is located in the Sutter Bypass (click here to see a map, pdf)). During major flood events, the Bypass diverts winter flood water from the Sacramento River, which may cover portions of the refuge with up to 12 feet of water.

Waterfowl are present September through April and numbers peak later than most other refuges in the Complex between January and February. Sutter NWR typically supports wintering populations of more than 200,000 ducks and 100,000 geese.

The mixed riparian forest habitat on the refuge is important for breeding and migrating passerine birds, and supports a large heron/egret rookery. The refuge provides habitat for several Federal and State endangered and threatened species, including giant garter snake, Chinook salmon, yellow-billed cuckoo, and Swainson's hawk.

There are limited wildlife viewing and photographic opportunities from Hughes Road, which bisects the refuge.

Visitor Opportunities:

Hiking trails for wildlife observation and photography are open seasonally from February 15 – June 30 (click here for the brochure, pdf). Access is from a parking area with a kiosk off the Bypass Levee. Hours of access are from 1 hour before sunrise to 1 hour after sunset.


Waterfowl and pheasant hunting is permitted seasonally. Access the Complex's hunting webpage on the Sacramento NWR site for more information.

To see a Map with Directions, click on the links below:

Learn More About Visitor Opportunities on the Complex:

- Visitor Activities 
- Wildlife and Habitat