Laws and Regulations


The refuge is open daily from dawn to dusk. The Visitor Center is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (closed Mondays and federal holidays) under normal situations. Hours are subject to change. Roads and trails may be closed periodically or seasonally due to inclement weather or refuge activities. Closures will be listed on the Refuge Alert page.


Visitors must stay on designated roads and approved trails. Venturing off of roads and approved trails open to the public is prohibited. Trails are open to bicycles, horses, and pedestrians (Check trail map for more information). There are no fees for access to the Refuge, hunt permits, or most special use permits. The speed limit on refuge-owned roads is 15 MPH unless otherwise noted.

Disturbing Nature

Collecting, disturbing or destroying plants, animals or parts thereof is prohibited unless specifically authorized under a Special Use Permit. For details see 50 CFR 18-99 parts 27 and 32.


Collecting or disturbing any artifacts you may find is prohibited.

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:

Not Prohibited (ALLOWED):

  • Pets on leash while on refuge property including parking lots, trails, and roads (Including Forest Road 80)
  • Hunting under West Virginia Division of Natural Resources regulations during proper seasons.  Follow refuge regulations found in the Canaan Valley NWR Hunt Permit/Brochure. 
  • Fishing under West Virginia Division of Natural Resources regulations during proper seasons. Consult with the refuge website or visitor center for maps or more information. 
  • Horses, bicycles, pedestrians, snowshoers, cross-country skiers or the combination of above is allowed on trails.  Consult the Trail map from Canaan Valley NWR for more information on which use is allowable. 
  • Wildlife Observation and photography, environmental education and interpretation, and admiration of Canaan Valley NWR. 
  • Exploring areas of the Refuge as a volunteer that is not accessible by the general public.

Prohibited (NOT ALLOWED): 

  • Pets are not allowed on Freeland Boardwalk 
  • Cutting firewood, camping, or open fires
  • Littering of any kind 
  • Off-road vehicles including snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles 
  • Feeding or abandoning wild or domestic animals on the refuge 
  • Collecting plants (Ramps, blueberries, huckleberries, apples, mushrooms), animals or other natural, historical or archeological items 
  • Permanent structures such as tree stands, stairways, or rope swings.   
  • No overnight camping is allowed on the refuge with exception of a overnight parking special use permit that allows visitors to park overnight night in our overnight parking lot located on Forest Road 80.  This permit is only for those who wish to access Dolly Sods Wilderness.   

Persons possessing, transporting or carrying firearms on national wildlife refuges must comply with all provisions of state and local law. Persons may only use (discharge) firearms in accordance with refuge regulations (50 CFR 27.42 and specific refuge regulations in 50 CFR part 32). Firearms are not allowed in any federal buildings.