While the Refuge is not open to the public due to the sensitive nature of work conducted by the California Condor Recovery Program, there are opportunities for the public to visit the Refuge through volunteer workdays and guided tours provided by staff and Partners such as the Friends of California Condors Wild and Free. For more information about tours and workdays visit friendsofcondors.org.
The adjacent Los Padres National Forest, managed by the U.S. Forest Service, has similar wildlife and habitat as the Refuge, and offers many more opportunities for recreation. The Forest Service maintains an observation point at Dough Flat in the Los Padres National Forest, roughly five miles from the Refuge and is a great location to experience "condor country". Please contact the U. S. Forest Service Ojai Ranger District Office for more information on road conditions and public use at (805) 646-4348.
The Dough Flat site is along the public access corridor of the Sespe Condor Sanctuary in the Lo Padres National Forest, which is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The driving time from Fillmore to Dough Flat is about 1 hour (13 miles). Plan to arrive around 9am and stay until 3pm to see condors flying over the Sanctuary. Be sure to take plenty of water and carry a spare tire in your vehicle. PLEASE note that the Sespe Condor Sanctuary (located on Forest Service land) is closed to public access. The road going to Dough Flat runs through a corridor which bisects the Sespe Condor Sanctuary. The public may access this corridor, but the Sanctuary to the west and east of this corridor is closed to the public.
Directions to Dough Flat from Interstate 5 (I-5) north to Castaic Junction. Take the Ventura off-ramp and follow Highway 126 west to the town of Fillmore (19 miles). Turn right at the stop light on “A” Street and head north. You will come to a yield sign where “A” Street becomes Goodenough Road go right. Goodenough Road will end after 3-4 miles at a fork in the road, go right which takes you into the Sespe oil fields. Follow the road, being careful to stay on the main road, the side roads will take you to oil well pads. After 3.3 miles you will see the Oak Flat Station building (no longer Forest Service station) on your left and a condor observation sign indicating the number of miles to Dough Flat. Stay on the main road going left. DO NOT make a right turn on the road which passes through a gate. The gate is closed to public access. Go about 7 miles to reach Dough Flat. Park and scan the cliffs. If you hike on the trail about 3 miles north of Dough Flat, you will come to the Cow Spring Campground.
Directions to Dough Flat from Highway 101 south to Ventura. In Ventura, merge onto Highway 126 go east to Fillmore about 20 miles. In Fillmore turn left at the stop light at “A” Street and then continue as above
Observe and Photograph Wildlife
You can see California condors as well as many other native species nearby the Refuge in the Los Padres National Forest.
Hunting & Fishing Access
There are currently no hunting or fishing opportunities at Hopper Mountain NWR. For more information regarding hunting and fishing opportunities in and around Ventura County contact the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Region 5 (South Coast Region) or visit their website at wildlife.ca.gov.
If you’re a researcher interested in accessing the property, opportunities are available at Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge on a case-by case basis. Please contact us for any research interest and be prepared to submit a "Research and Monitoring Special Use Application" which you can find on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s special use permit page Processing permits generally take about 2 weeks, so please plan accordingly.
Gathering of plants on Hopper Mountain NWR by local Native American tribal members has occurred historically and has been a periodic use. Plants, such as hemp dogbane (Apocynum cannabinum), are collected for a variety of uses, including ceremonial and artistic purposes such as basket weaving. A special use permit (SUP) will be issued for all approved plant gathering/collection activities. Please contact us for more information, a "General Activities Special User Permit Application" will be required and the form can be found on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s special use permit page. Processing permits generally take about 2 weeks, so please plan accordingly.
The refuge is currently closed to the public and has been since its establishment in 1974 due to the sensitive nature of California condor recovery activities. There are no trails for public use on the Refuge.
A virtual reality app, TimeLooper, was created in 2021 to provide a digital immersive experience for anyone interested in visiting the Refuge. The app can be downloaded for free in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
Other Facilities in the Complex
Rules and Policies
The refuge is currently closed to the public and has been since its establishment in 1974 due to the sensitive nature of California condor recovery activities.
There is no hunting allowed on the refuge, however there is hunting allowed during appropriate seasons on other nearby public land. For any questions, please call the Refuge Manager at (805) 644-5185.