Facility Rules and Policies

There are a lot of fun, interesting, and educational things you can do on the refuge. Keep in mind, if an activity is not wildlife related and doesn't help in the protection or understanding of wildlife or their habitat, there are probably refuge rules governing this activity. Please check with the refuge management before participating in an activity that could harm the environment or yourself. There are plenty of activities at Imperial National Wildlife Refuge for you to enjoy. Be safe and have fun! 

Rules and Policies
  • Hiking, photography, and wildlife observation are permitted on the refuge, except within closed areas (e.g., waterfowl management units, staff residence area, and maintenance area). 
  • Drone use is prohibited on Imperial National Wildlife Refuge. Drones are prohibited from launching, landing or being controlled from within the Refuge.
  • Hunting and fishing are permitted in most areas, according to state regulations. Contact us at 928-783-3371 for questions or further information.
  • Pets must be on a leash, unless being actively used for lawful hunting purposes. Service animals are welcome. 
  • Persons possessing, transporting, or carrying firearms on National Wildlife Refuges 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). 
  • Possession or use of crossbows or bow and arrows is prohibited except when used for approved hunting purposes in accordance with all provisions of state and local law.

On the Water

  • Boating is permitted in most areas. Special regulations apply. 
  • Fishing is permitted in most areas, according to state regulations. Contact us at 928-783-3371 for questions or further information.
  • Water skiing and tubing are not permitted on the refuge.

To protect the fragile desert ecosystem, we do not allow any of the following activities:

  • Camping, fires, and target shooting are not permitted.
  • Prospecting, rockhounding or removal of sand, rock, gravel or minerals. 
  • Excavating or removing objects of antiquity, cultural artifacts, or paleontological artifacts.
  • Trapping, collecting, disturbing, injuring, destroying, removal, or transportation of any plant or animal or part thereof (alive or dead), or part of the natural flora and fauna on the Refuge is prohibited, except for legally taken game.
  • Dumping of litter, sewage, or liquid waste on the refuge. 
  • Off-leashed pets. Pets must be always leashed and under control. Owners must clean up after their pets.

Rules of the Road

  • Vehicles are only allowed on designated public use roads. All off-road vehicle travel is prohibited. All vehicles (including motorcycles, off-highway vehicles, and bicycles) must stay on designated public roads.
  • Travel into the wilderness is not permitted by any motorized vehicle or mechanized transportation of any kind. Travel in wilderness areas is by foot or horseback only
  • The speed limit is 25 mph on refuge roads and is strictly enforced. The exception to this speed limit is on the stretch of road near the visitor center and Meer’s Point. Visitors are asked to slow down to 15 mph in accordance with the posted sign.
  • Only street-legal motorcycles and off-highway vehicles (OHVs), as defined by Arizona state law, are allowed on the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge. 
  • All vehicle operators are required to have proof of insurance and a current registration. 

Special Use Permits

Special Use Permits (SUP) are required for some activities. Permits enable the public to engage in legitimate wildlife-related activities and 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 activities to go forward. 

At the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge, wildlife comes first. For this reason, Special Use Permits are required in order to conduct the following types of activities 

  • General   
  • Research   
  • Commercial