Fish Springs and the area have a rich cultural history prior to Refuge establishment. The year-round water supply at Fish Springs made it an important stopping point for the Goshute, Pony Express, Central Overland Stage Route, and Lincoln Highway. Historical markers can be found along the present-day Pony Express Route and within the Refuge. Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge provides several opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and this oasis in the desert.
The Refuge’s auto tour route, open during daylight hours, allows you to observe wildlife in desert uplands, wet meadows, marshlands, and open waters. Early morning and late afternoon are ideal times to view wildlife and take pictures. Whether you are a birder, a photographer, a hunter, a student of the natural environment or share interest in the cultural history of the area, Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to visit.
You will find exciting birding opportunities at this Refuge year-round. Spring and fall migrations provide peak numbers of shorebirds, waterfowl, and many land birds. During the breeding season, you can easily spot nesting colonies of black-crowned night heron, white-faced ibis, great blue heron, and snowy egret. Winter highlights often include tundra swan, numerous ducks, raptors, and the secretive American bittern. More than 290 bird species have been recorded on the Refuge.
Other Facilities in the Complex
Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge and Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge have similar habitat conservation needs, and combining these areas assists in providing consistency and effectively uses human and capital resources for both locations.
Rules and Policies
Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge is one of over 560 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System, a system of lands set aside to conserve wildlife and habitat for people to enjoy today and for generations to come. The Refuge is patrolled by law enforcement officers. To ensure your safety while visiting and protect your National Wildlife Refuge and the wildlife inhabiting it, please be mindful of and abide by all laws, rules, and regulations during your visit. If you are unsure if an activity is allowed, please contact the Refuge by calling (435) 693-3122 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cell phone coverage at the Refuge is extremely limited. If there is an emergency while you are visiting the Refuge, there is a pay phone located at the main entrance to the Refuge.
To report Refuge or wildlife violations, please contact the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Turn In Poachers (TIPS) line by phone (844) FWS-TIPS (397-8477) OR email email@example.com.
From the Salt Lake City area, plan on about 3 hours travel time when using the Pony Express Route. Alternatively, by traveling in on Highway 174 north of Delta, Utah, unpaved road distance can be greatly reduced.
Fish Springs NWR is one of the most isolated Refuges in the lower 48 states. Visiting the Refuge requires a long drive on unpaved roads without nearby food, gas or other services.
Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge is 75 miles from the closest town with any services. Travel requires driving 25 to 80 miles of gravel roads.
You can take precautions to ensure that your trip to Fish Springs NWR will be a safe and pleasant one. Things to consider are gasoline, tires, food and water, weather and driving safety.
- Be sure to fill up on gasoline. The nearest gas stations are at Lynndyl, Delta, The Border Inn on Hwy 6, Wendover, and Stockton.
- Make sure you have a good spare tire. Flat tires are common on gravel roads. Bringing an extra spare tire is a wise precaution. Patch kits and portable air compressors are a good idea.
- Carry plenty of water. If you are stranded for any reason, you will need plenty of drinking water. Experts recommend between 2-liters and a gallon of water per person per day in the desert. While there is a good chance someone will come along soon to provide some assistance, it is always better to be safe and carry plenty of water. It is also a good idea to pack additional snacks that won’t melt to quickly or go bad outside of a cooler. If you have a radiator boil-over extra water may get you to safety.
- Prepare for cold weather. Carry warm clothing and sleeping bags when traveling in cold weather. Snow drifts have stranded many travelers.
- Drive Carefully. Gravel roads are very slippery and have corrugations and pot holes that can cause you to run off the road. There are also blind corners and hills which may have turns, animals or another automobile on the other side.
- Park Safely. It may seem like you are the only one on the road but someone may still come along at any time. Common mistakes are: Blocking the roadway by stopping or even leaving unattended vehicles on the roadway. Stopping or parking on blind corners and hills.
- GPS warning: GPS units show roads that are in poor condition, not maintained or in secure military areas. Travelers following GPS directions have had to spend nights in their autos and walk many miles for help after being stuck on these roads. Search parties have rescued stranded travelers.
- Cell phones do not work for many miles in any direction in the Fish Springs area.
- Remember these are county roads and all state and county laws apply. Off road vehicles are not allowed. Failure to use good judgment could become a life or death situation. The number one cause of automobile related injury and death in the west desert is single car rollovers. Excessive speed causes people to loose control. Pay attention to posted road signs
- Be Courteous - When passing an on-coming vehicle please slow down to about 30 mph. This will reduce the shower of rocks thrown onto windshields when passing. If you have a flat tire please remove the rocks you use for blocking your wheels from the road.
WILSON HOT SPRINGS
- People have had their dogs fall into the springs and die from burns. Please keep your pets away from the springs!
- Wilson hot springs is located off the refuge on property belonging to the US Army.
- If you try to drive to the hot springs remember that the water in the road on the way to the hot springs is actually a spring. People often drive around the visible standing water only to get stuck 200 to 300 feet later where rescue vehicles cannot go. The water level is several feet below the surface in this area, so there is no solid place to drive to the hot springs.