Laws and Regulations

Click on Plan Your Visit for more information about Hours by Refuge, Fees and Permits, Accessibility, Activities, and more!


Visitors to National Wildlife Refuges must comply with all applicable local, State, and Federal regulations and signs

Auto Tours: 

While on the Auto Tour Routes (Sacramento NWR and Colusa NWR), visitors are required to stay in their vehicles. The Sacramento NWR Auto Tour has 3 park-and-stretch areas to allow visitors to get out of their vehicles. This is a citable offense with fines up to $275.


The on-refuge speed limit is 15 mph.

Closed Zones:

National Wildlife Refuges were created for wildlife. Areas throughout the refuge are designated as closed or restricted-use areas to protect wildlife or for public safety. Please read and adhere to the regulations identified by signs. 

  • OPEN:  Areas open to public use will be posted as such. Road entrances to public use areas have a large brown refuge sign, open gate, and posted hours. Areas open to the public include designated Auto Tour Routes, Nature Trails, and Parking Lots. Areas open to the public are listed on the refuge public use maps – follow the “MAPS” tab on the right side of this web page. Public use areas are DAY USE ONLY. 
  • CLOSED:  Areas closed to the public include all property that is not explicitly posted as an area open to the public. Closed area boundaries are posted along accessible areas with signs that may list the following: “UNAUTHORIZED ENTRY PROHIBITED”; “AREA BEYOND THIS SIGN CLOSED All public entry prohibited.” Visitors must stay out of posted closed areas. Visitors that enter posted closed areas are trespassing and are subject to law enforcement action including citations. 


Hunting is allowed in designated areas of Sacramento NWR, Delevan NWR, Colusa NWR, Sutter NWR, and Sacramento River NWR with appropriate licenses and permits. Visit the Sacramento NWR Complex hunting page and the Sacramento River NWR hunting page for more information.


Dogs are allowed where visitors are allowed. Dogs must be on-leash (no more than 6 feet long) while on trails or parking lots, except for authorized hunting activities under the immediate control of a licensed hunter. Owners/handlers are responsible for picking up and disposing of dog droppings on trails and in parking lots. National Wildlife Refuges provide habitat for native wildlife. Pets (including waterfowl) are not allowed to be released on the refuge.

Camping and Fires:

Camping is not permitted on the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex, with the exception of the following: 

  1. On the Sacramento River, camping is permitted on gravel bars for up to 7 days during a 30 day period
  2. For waterfowl hunting, an overnight stay is permitted inside a vehicle or RV in designated areas; tents are prohibited. No person may build or maintain fires except for the use of portable gas stoves on Sacramento River gravel bars and in Hunter Check Station parking lots. 


Fishing is only permitted on Packer Lake (Sacramento River NWR) and on the Sacramento River. Follow state regulations.


Bicycling is only permitted on the following areas from May 15 - August 15: 

  1. Sacramento NWR Auto Tour (Bicycling not permitted on Pool 2 Extension Loop) and Colusa NWR Auto Tour.
  2. Sacramento River NWR trails of the following units: Rio Vista, Pine Creek, Capay, Sul Norte, Packer, and Drumheller. 

Visit the Bicycling page for more information.  

In summary, Permitted Activities: 

  • Use of posted Auto Tour Routes (Sacramento NWR, Colusa NWR)
  • Use of posted Nature Trails (Sacramento NWR, Colusa NWR, Sutter NWR, Sacramento River NWR, Llano Seco Unit)
  • Use of posted Hunt Areas within approved hunting season (Sacramento NWR, Delevan NWR, Colusa NWR, Sutter NWR, Sacramento River NWR) - please see out Hunting Rules and Regulations page
  • Use of posted Parking Lots
  • Pets on leash when outside vehicle
  • Day use only
  • Bicycling only in designated areas May 15 - August 15
  • Special Activities, ONLY by pre-approved Special Use Permit: research activities, commercial activities (filming, photography, guided tours), large wildlife-oriented events (birding, wildlife watching, festivals)

In summary, Prohibited Activities:

All areas of the refuges are closed to public entry unless explicitly posted as a public-use area. Visitors must comply with all posted rules and regulations, in addition to what is listed below. Except where otherwise permitted/posted:

  • No trespassing in posted closed areas
  • No entry behind closed gates or fences
  • No night use
  • No large private events (weddings, memorials, parties)
  • No travel off of designated public use road or trail
  • No parking outside of designated parking lots
  • No walking on Auto Tour Routes
  • No pets off leash when outside of vehicles
  • No dog field trials or dog training that involves being off-leash
  • No abandonment of wild or domestic animals
  • No horseback riding
  • No camping
  • No fires or open flame cooking grills
  • No weapons (except shotguns used during lawful hunting activities as authorized by permit)
  • No discharge of firearms (except during lawful hunting activities as authorized by permit)
  • No take, disturbance or collection of wildlife or plants
  • No search for, or removal of, objects of antiquity or other valued objects
  • No prospecting or mining
  • No littering
  • No removal of any property from refuge
  • No feeding wildlife
  • No spotlighting
  • No interference with persons engaged in authorized activities
  • No alcohol or illegal drugs, including marijuana 
  • No drone activity