Laws and Regulations

  • Wildlife Observation and Photography

Wildlife Observation & Photography are the most popular recreation activities on the Refuge. To avoid disturbing Greater sage-grouse during their mating season, you must have a Refuge special use permit and follow special rules when viewing or photographing sage-grouse from March 1 until June 1.

  • Hunting

Hunting for some big game, waterfowl, and upland bird species is permitted in accordance with state and federal regulations. All hunting is strictly prohibited within 3 miles of the Refuge Headquarters. Hunting within the Refuge may be more restrictive than state regulations. Consult all refuge regulations and state regulations prior to hunting on the Refuge.

All other wildlife is protected.

  • Fishing

Fishing is allowed only in Rock Creek, Guano Creek, and Warner Pond. Check current Oregon state regulations for seasons, limits and other requirements.

  • Vehicles

Vehicles (both motorized and nonmotorized) are allowed ONLY on Open Routes. Roads are open as indicated by road signs, refuge maps, or other information subject to weather and road conditions and for resource/habitat protection.

Vehicle use off-road is prohibited. You may pull off the road one vehicle length, subject to seasonal fire danger restrictions.

  • Camping

Camping is permitted year-round for up to 14 days only in designated campgrounds, please check website for seasonal closures.  Camping is not allowed on roads or pull-off areas.  

If you would rather enjoy more remote areas of the Refuge, camping is also permitted with a backcountry permit.  Backcountry camping requires campers to be at least 1/2 mile from any road, 1/2 mile from their vehicle, and 50 feet from a water source.  No fires are allowed when backcountry camping.  

Camping is free and is on a first come, first serve basis.  

  • Campfires

Campfires are permitted only in designated firerings where provided. The use of campfires may be further restricted during periods of increased fire danger – check for campfire restrictions posted at the Refuge Headquarters or at the campground. Bring your own firewood because collecting firewood within the Refuge is prohibited.

  • Pets

Pets must be leashed or confined, except dogs used for bird hunting. Hunting dogs must be kept under the immediate control of their handlers at all times.

  • Firearms

Firearms and their possession within the Refuge is allowed in accordance with Oregon state law. The discharge of any firearm and the possession or use of weapons other than firearms, except as allowed for purposes of legal hunting, is prohibited.

  • Artifacts

Collecting removing, disturbing, digging, or cutting resources such as artifacts, arrowheads, petroglyphs, trees and other plants is strictly prohibited. Observe and enjoy refuge resources in place.

  • Rock Collecting

Surface collection of up to seven (7) pounds of rock per person per day is allowed. Disturbing the ground or using tools or equipment as well as the collecting of arrowheads, stone tools, or any other type of artifact is strictly prohibited.


On National Wildlife Refuges wildlife comes first. Refuges are not managed for multiple uses like other public lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.

A Special Use Permit is required for any commercial use and for any use or activity other than public hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, wildlife photography (except from March 1- June 1), environmental education, and interpretation which are the priority wildlife dependent uses compatible with the purposes for Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge. Contact the Refuge to find out more about Special Use Permits or visit the USFWS site here: Special Use Permits

  • Wildlife Photography Permits

A special use permit is required for any commercial photography, filming, or audio/visual production. Applicants must fill out a Commercial Special Use Permit application and submit it to the Refuge Complex.

To protect Greater sage-grouse during the breeding season we require all people obtain a refuge special use permit to photograph near sage grouse leks between March 1 and June 1.  If you would like to photograph sage grouse during these times of the year fill out the general special use permit and submit it to the Refuge Complex.

  • Outfitter and Guide Permits

We allow a limited number of outfitters and guides to operate within the refuge and facilitate big-game hunting opportunities for people who lack the specialized knowledge, skills, and abilities for a truly safe, enjoyable and productive hunting experience. If you are interested in providing these commercial services within Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge fill out the Commercial Special Use Permit and submit it to the Refuge Complex. Applications for a commercial special use permit have no deadline, but require up to a 30 day processing time before a permit is issued

  • Research, Scientific Collection, and Other Permits

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requires a research and monitoring special use permit for anyone conducting scientific research, studies, collection of plants or animals or other activities within the refuge. Other permits are required under various wildlife law and treaties at a number of offices throughout the country.  Service permit programs ensure that such activities are carried out in a manner that safeguards wildlife.  Additionally, some permits promote conservation efforts by authorizing scientific research, generating data, or allowing wildlife management and rehabilitation activates to go forward.

Other permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are handled by permitting programs in International Affairs (Management Authority), Endangered Species, Law Enforcement, and  Migratory Birds.

Visit the National Wildlife Refuge System web site for more information on Special Use Permits.

  • Backcountry Camping Permits

You can camp in the backcountry outside of designated sites with a Refuge Backcountry Use Permit. These permits enable us to make sure you have the information you need for a safe enjoyable trip.

Getting a permit is free and easy! Just fill out the permit and send it to the Refuge Complex. Contact the Refuge for more information.