Facility Rules and Policies

We hope you enjoy the many educational and recreational opportunities available at the refuge. Because Deer Flat is a national wildlife refuge, regulations are in place to reduce disturbance to wildlife and habitat and to provide a positive experience for visitors. Be safe and enjoy your visit!


Fishing limits and seasons are set by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, as appropriate. Contact them for current hunting and fishing regulations.

Live, nonnative aquatic bait is prohibited. 

Lake Lowell Unit Fishing

Some areas of the refuge are permanently or seasonally closed to protect wildlife; please watch for signs and check the map. During times when hiking is restricted to designated trails to protect nesting birds, access to bank fishing is allowed only from maintained roads and trails and within 100 yards of shoreline on either side of trails accessing the lakeshore. Wading access to fishing is allowed all year in Fishing Areas A and B and April 15 to September 30 from open shoreline. Ice fishing is allowed.

Snake River Islands Unit Fishing

Fishing from the shore of the Snake River Islands is prohibited during nesting season. All islands are closed from February 1 to June 14. The nesting closure extends through June 30 on a few heron and gull-nesting islands. Watch for signs.


Hunting is allowed for pheasant, quail, partridge, mourning doves, ducks, coots, and deer on the Lake Lowell Unit. On the Snake River Islands Unit, hunting is also allowed for other upland game and geese. Hunting limits and seasons are set by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, as appropriate. Contact them for current hunting and fishing regulations.

All waterfowl, coot, upland game, and mourning dove hunters on the refuge are required to use non-toxic shot and may not possess lead shot in the field. Hunting dogs must be leashed unless actively hunting and remain under strict voice control at all times. Dog training is not allowed. Target shooting is prohibited.

Hunters may enter the refuge one hour before legal shooting hours and remain on the refuge until one hour after legal shooting hours.

Although use of permanent blinds is prohibited, portable blinds are allowed if they are removed at the end of each day. Temporary blinds may be constructed from natural vegetation less than 3 inches in diameter and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Lake Lowell Unit Hunting

Hunting on the Lake Lowell Unit is limited to the East Side and South Side Recreation Areas. Only upland game birds, mourning doves, ducks, coots, and deer may be hunted.  tate seasons apply. The deer hunt is a controlled hunt; check specific State and refuge regulations. Goose hunting is prohibited throughout the Lake Lowell Unit. 

Duck and coot hunting in the East Side Recreation Area is walk-in only; no float tubes or boats are allowed. Duck and coot hunters in the South Side Recreation Area may use float tubes, non-motorized boats, and boats with electric motors only. The use or possession of gas-powered motors is prohibited. Boat use is limited to 200 yards from the water’s edge of hunt zones. Duck hunting is not allowed on foot from the ice.

Snake River Islands Unit Hunting

Hunting of waterfowl, coots, upland game, mourning doves, and deer is allowed on all islands of the Snake River Islands Unit during State seasons. Where the Snake River is the boundary between Idaho and Oregon, hunters from either state may hunt the islands according to the regulations of the State for which they are licensed. Lead buckshot is prohibited for hunting deer on the Snake River Islands Unit.

Snake River Islands Access

All refuge islands are closed to all entry from February 1 to June 14 to protect nesting wildlife. Several heron and gull-nesting islands are closed to all entry from February 1 to June 30. Signs indicate seasonal island closure dates.


Hiking is allowed on designated trails and roads in the North Side and East Side Recreation Areas. Hiking is allowed seasonally off of designated trails as follows: East Side and South Side Recreation Areas, all year; Gotts Point, 2/1-9/30; Murphy’s Neck, 3/15-9/30; North Side Recreation Area, 8/1-1/31. 


Swimming and other water play is allowed from April 15 to September 30. Swimmers are encouraged to use designated swimming beaches at the East Upper Dam boat launch and at the Lower Dam Recreation Area. No lifeguards are present. Swimming and other water play is not allowed around fishing facilities or immediately adjacent to boat launches. 


Between April 15 and September 30, motorized and non-motorized boats may be used. Airboats and air-thrust boats are prohibited. Boat-launching facilities are located at the Lower Dam Recreation Area, the east and west ends of the Upper Dam, Access No. 1, and Access No. 7. All launching facilities are subject to closure due to low water levels. Between October 1 and April 14, human-powered boats and float tubes may be used, but only in the areas 200 yards in front of the Upper and Lower Dams. Boat ramps are blocked during this time. 

Boating is permitted during daylight hours only. Please observe all No Wake Zones. Some are indicated by buoys; however, the No Wake Zone along the south shore is not marked by buoys. It is a 200-yard buffer measured from the edge of the shoreline or the vegetation, whichever is closer to the center of the lake. 

Some areas, marked by signs or buoys, are permanently or seasonally closed to protect wildlife nesting and foraging habitat. Boaters may not anchor on or pull onto permanently or seasonally closed lands. 

Kiteboarders and windsurfers may launch from any open shoreline, but must comply with all No Wake Zones. 

Organized Group Activities

Limited organized group activities are allowed, but only at the Lower Dam Recreation Area. For event requirements, contact deerflat@fws.gov


Jogging is allowed in the Lower Dam Recreation Area and on designated trails and roads in the North Side and East Side Recreation Areas. Groups of more than ten joggers require a Special Use Permit. Competitive events are prohibited.


Biking is allowed on designated trails and roads in the North Side and East Side Recreation Areas. Groups of more than ten bicyclists require a Special Use Permit. Competitive events are prohibited.  

Horseback Riding

Horseback riding is allowed on designated trails and roads in the North Side and East Side Recreation Areas. Groups of more than ten horses and riders require a Special Use Permit. Competitive events are prohibited.  


Pets are allowed in the Lower Dam Recreation Area and on designated trails and roads in the North Side and East Side Recreation Areas as long as they are on a physical leash (6 feet long or less) at all times. Pet waste must be promptly removed. Hunting dogs may be off leash while actively hunting, but they must remain under strict voice control. Learn how to recreate responsibly with your pet as a BARK Ranger!  


Target shooting is prohibited at all times. The use or possession of air guns, spears, gigs, paint-ball weapons, or other non-firearm weapons is prohibited. 

Drone Use

Drone use is not permitted, including, but not limited to: launching or retrieving drones or operating drones in airspace above refuge lands.

The drone restriction is in place to protect the public from hazards and preserve the refuge’s natural, aesthetic and scenic values.

  • The use of unmanned aircraft devices, such as unmanned aircraft systems or drones, has the potential to interfere with public safety by posing an in-flight hazard to other legal aircraft use in the area. Unauthorized landing or take-off of drones on a national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
    A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

    Learn more about national wildlife refuge
     is prohibited, 50 CFR 27.34. 
  • The use of these devices also has the potential to disrupt wildlife by interrupting migration, nesting, mating and hunting, as well as native birds and mammals, which could result in harassment of wildlife, 50 CFR 27.51(a). 
Prohibited Activities

Glass containers, open fires, fireworks, camping, overnight parking, driving a motorized vehicle off of roads, using radio-controlled vehicles and vessels, using metal detectors, gathering wood, dog training, and collecting plants, animals, rocks, or other specimens are prohibited. 


Trapping is prohibited on the Refuge. No trapping is allowed on the Refuge. Trappers are allowed to use the Snake River Islands to access trapping sites below high water that are under the State's jurisdiction.