Laws and Regulations

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! 

  • 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).  

  • Travel in wilderness areas is by foot or horseback only.  

  • 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.  

  • Boating is permitted in most areas. Special regulations apply.  

  • Water skiing and tubing are not permitted on the refuge. 

  • Vehicles are permitted on designated roads only. All off-road vehicle travel is prohibited. All motorized vehicles, including all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles, and all operators must be licensed and insured for highway driving. Speed limit is 25 mph unless posted otherwise.  

  • It is illegal to remove, deface, or damage rocks, minerals, semi-precious stones, Native American artifacts, paleontological objects, or objects of antiquity.  

  • Collecting, possessing, molesting, disturbing, injuring, destroying, removing, or transporting any plant or animal or part thereof (alive or dead) is prohibited, except for legally taken game.  

  • Camping, fires, and target shooting are not permitted on the refuge.  

  • 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. 

Special Use Permits 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 (SUP) are required in order to conduct the following types of activities 

  • General   

  • Research   

  • Commercial