Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge Complex
Pacific Southwest Region
Volunteer & Internships
Refuge Hours & Directions

Recreational Opportunities

Visitor Center

Environmental Education
HuntingVisitor Center.  (USFWS)

Visitor Center
Your first stop on any visit to the Refuge should be at the Visitor Center, located at the junction of Sinclair and Gentry Roads. The Center is surrounded by native vegetation, agricultural fields, river and wetland habitats, and the Salton Sea. Inside you can pick up brochures and other information packets, as well as explore a bird diorama and shop in the bookstore. Proceeds from the sale of books and other educational items benefit the Refuge’s educational programs.

Outside, a self guided trail will take you out to the Sea and introduce you to the habitats found in desert and wetland ecosystems. There is also an observation tower and picnic area located near the main parking lot. The Visitor Center is open Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. year round. From October through February, the Visitor Center is also open on weekends from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Visitor Center is closed on all national holidays. Please call 760-348-5278 for further information.

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Environmental Education.  (USFWS)Environmental Education
One of the primary objectives of the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge is to provide high quality environmental education to an interested audience. Our dynamic Environmental Education program offers free half-day or full-day educator-led field trips. Teachers, outdoor education leaders, adult leaders, and students are actively involved in exploring the diverse habitats of the Refuge. Students participate in a variety of hands-on activities that are designed to teach ecological concepts that focus on the Refuge’s resource management issues such as habitat preservation, endangered species, and migratory birds. Integrating science, art, history, math, language arts, and physical education, the activities are adaptable to students of all grade levels.

Environmental education is usually conducted at the Refuge Headquarters. There is a one-mile trail that weaves through upland vegetation, freshwater ponds and agricultural fields, ending 150 feet above the surface of the Salton Sea. During field trips, students learn why the Salton Sea is important to the surrounding ecosystems and to the millions of migratory birds that travel through the area each year. Over 400 species of birds have been reported at the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge, including a variety of waterfowl and shorebirds. In addition, the Refuge provides a home for several endangered species including the Yuma clapper rail and the California brown pelican.

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The Refuge has two walking trails: the Rock Hill Trail and the Michael Hardenberger Trail. The Rock Hill Trail is approximately 2 miles roundtrip, leading visitors through several different habitats. It begins next to the picnic area at the Visitor Center and ends on the top of Rock Hill, which is located on the edge of the Salton Sea.

The Michael Hardenberger Trail is located at Unit 1 off Vendel Road, which is at the south end of the Salton Sea. The ½ mile trail encircles one of our freshwater ponds, a favorite nesting spot for the endangered Yuma clapper rail.

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The Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR offers several sites for waterfowl hunting during waterfowl season in accordance with the State of California regulations. Hunting is permitted on Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays only. Only ducks, geese, coots and moorhens Snow geese with adult "blue goose".  (USFWS)(gallinules) may be hunted.

The daily quota of hunters shall be filled by those holding advance reservations, which are issued by the California Department of Fish and Game. Hunters with reservations must present them at the Wister Check Station no later than 1 ½ hours before shooting time. Vacancies occurring from no show reservation holders and from hunters leaving the area shall be filled according to the order established in the previous night’s drawing at the Wister Check Station. Furthermore, a permit must be obtained at the Wister Check Station and must be in the hunter’s possession for hunting on the Refuge. Hunters are permitted
to enter only the assigned blind site for which the permit is issued. A fee is required for all persons 16 years and older. All hunters are required to check out at the Wister Check Station, report hunting results, and return their permits before leaving the area. For further information about hunting regulations, click here or call 760-359-0577 or 760-348-5278.

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AccessibilityAccessible Blind. (USFWS)
It is the policy of Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge to accommodate all individuals. We have two hunting blinds that are specifically constructed and available to accommodate hunters who are physically challenged. If you have any questions concerning the Refuge’s programs, or if you need any accommodation to enable you to participate in the Refuge’s programs, please contact the Visitor Center at 760-348-5278.

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To see a map of the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge and the recreational opportunities offered, click here.



Last updated: May 23, 2011