Visitor Activities

Interpretive Specialist Jennifer Heroux Leading a Bird Walk



  • Boating


    Boating is permitted only on the Bay and its tributaries, but not in salt evaporation ponds. Canoes and kayaks are recommended, since motor noise scares away wildlife. Jet skis are prohibited. Many sloughs are empty of water at low tide. Please be aware of the tide schedule before you embark. If your boat becomes stuck in the mud, wait for the next high tide to float it free. Public launching ramps are located at Alviso Marina County Park, Redwood City and near the refuge Visitor Center in Fremont. Check out the San Francisco Bay Water Trail map and see designated water trail sites. 

  • Environmental Education

    Living Wetlands Field Trip

    The refuge offers numerous opportunities and resources for educational groups free of charge. Resources include teacher orientations, field trips, local library presentations, and summer camps. Thousands of youth visit every year to learn about wildlife, habitat, or ecological processes.

    Is your school, youth, environmental or other group interested in learning more about the natural world of the San Francisco Bay Area? Check out our environmental education programs here or in our quarterly newsletter, the Tideline.

  • Fishing


    In addition to the conservation of wildlife and habitat, the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay NWR offers quality fishing opportunities. Fishing programs promote understanding and appreciation of natural resources and their management on all lands and waters in the refuge.

    Fishing is permitted by boat in the bay and its tributaries, but not in salt evaporation ponds or small slough channels. Fish commonly caught are rays, leopards sharks, white sturgeon, striped bass, and shiner surfperch. Check the California State Fishing Regulations for restrictions. 

    Download a map of our Fishing Areas (pdf, 736 KB)

  • Hunting


    Hunting is an important wildlife management tool and 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.

    The Don Edwards San Francisco Bay NWR contains 10,285 acres of tidal areas and salt ponds that are open to waterfowl hunting every October - January. Waterfowl hunting season opening and closing dates are determined by the State of California. Check the California Waterfowl Regulations each season for these dates. Read more on refuge-specific information on permits, locations, access, and hunting days on the refuge.

    Learn More
  • Trails

    Bicycling on Trails

    The refuge contains more than 30 miles of hiking trails, most of which accommodate bicycles. All motor vehicles are prohibited on refuge trails. Please help us protect wildlife and habitat by remaining on designated trails.

    Go to our Maps page for trail maps near the Fremont Visitor Center and the Alviso. 

  • Wildlife Viewing

    Wildlife Viewing of a Hummingbird

    Hundreds of animal species can be found on refuge grounds. The best time to view wildlife is fall - spring. Binoculars and family birding packs are available for loan at both the Visitor Center in Fremont and the Environmental Education Center in Alviso. Pick up a bird or plant list to help identify species of interest or search through the digital database in the Visitor Center and Environmental Education Center for photos. 

  • Interpretation

    Interpretive Walk

    Refuge naturalists and volunteers offer a wide variety of free guided programs and walks at both refuge headquarters in Fremont and at the Environmental Education Center in Alviso. Many interpretive programs in Alviso are funded by the Santa Clara Valley Urban Runoff Pollution Prevention Program through a grant (the Watershed Watcher Program) to the San Francisco Bay Wildlife Society, and cover a wide range of topics, such as bird watching, owl programs, habitat hikes, watershed programs, arts and crafts, night events, special events, and community service projects. Check the calendar on the home page for program dates, or see a list of all programs in the link below. Programs are updated quarterly.  

  • Photography


    Refuge trails provide many opportunities to view and photograph wildlife. 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. 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! For commercial photography or filming, a special use permit is required.  Please see Permits for more information on Special Use Permits.

  • Accessibility

    It is the policy of Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge to accommodate individuals with disabilities. If you have any questions concerning the refuge's programs, or if you need any accommodation to enable you to participate in the refuge's programs, please contact a public use staff person at the Visitor Center at 510-792-0222 ext. 363 or at the Environmental Education Center at 408-262-5513.