Laws and Regulations

Rules and Regulations

To protect the wildlife, habitats, and historic resources and to make your visit more enjoyable, the following regulations are strictly enforced:

  • The Refuge is open to the public during daylight hours only.
  • Vehicles must stay on designated, graveled roadways. 
  • River floating on the Refuge is allowed downstream from Cornell Dam only. No more than five float tubes carrying a maximum of eight people can be tied together.
  • Fishing is allowed on the Minnechaduza Creek and along the Niobrara River downstream from Cornell Dam.

Prohibited items and activities include: 

  • Alcoholic beverages  
  • Fireworks 
  • High volume radios
  • Any device capable of shooting or directing a projectile or liquid at another person or wildlife
  • Camping
  • Open pit fires
  • Hunting without a permit (Click here for Refuge hunting and fishing brochure)
  • Extreme sports such as ice climbing, rock climbing, and sport rappelling
  • Collecting plants, animals, rocks, or historical artifacts

Firearms and other weapons are subject to state law. At all times, persons possessing, transporting, or carrying firearms on National Wildlife Refuge System lands 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), i.e., only during the lawful pursuit of game during legal seasons.

An aerial view of pelican island.

The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act provides authority, guidelines and directives for the Service to improve the National Wildlife Refuge System; administers a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management, and restoration of fish, wildlife and plant...

The National Wildlife Refuge Volunteer Improvement Act authorizes cooperative agreements with nonprofit partner organizations, academic institutions, or State and local governments to construct, operate, maintain, or improve refuge facilities and services, and to promote volunteer, outreach, and...

The Refuge Recreation Act of 1962, with subsequent amendments, authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to administer refuges, hatcheries and other conservation areas for recreational use, when such uses do not interfere with the primary purpose for which these areas were established.

Spells out wildlife conservation as the fundamental mission of the Refuge System; requires comprehensive conservation planning to guide management of the Refuge System; directs the involvement of private citizens in land management decisions; and provides that compatible wildlife-dependent...