Carrizo Plains Ecological Reserve

tule elk were captured at the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge
In 2014, tule elk were captured at the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge and released at the Carrizo Plains Ecological Reserve and elsewhere.


The Carrizo Plains Ecological Reserve is approximately 38,900 acres and includes the American Ranch, North Chimineas, and South Chimineas Units. The Carrizo Plain is a diverse complex of scrub and woodland. The lowest elevations are dominated by spiny saltbush and iodine bush, with numerous vernal pools. Immediately upslope is either extensive non-native annual grassland or active drainages dominated by common saltbush. In the hills, several shrub communities are well represented including bush lupine, buckwheat, scrub oaks, and junipers. Numerous bird species occur, as well as carnivores, ungulates, rodents, bats, snakes, lizards, and other species.

For more information, call the Central Region Fresno office at (559) 243-4005 x151 or visit the Chimineas Ranch Foundation website.

Recreational Opportunities

Wildlife Viewing  Hiking Trails Quail Hunting Wild Pig Hunting

Activities: wildlife viewing, hiking, hunting

Hunting: dove, quail, wild pig, cottontail, and jackrabbit may be present

Chimineas Access Permit (PDF)

NOTE: Visitors are responsible for knowing and complying with all regulations pertaining to the use of Department lands.

Refer to the Public Uses on State and Federal Lands section of the Waterfowl, Upland Game, and Public Use Regulations (PDF) booklet for both statewide and property-specific regulations.

no drones icon
You may not operate a drone on CDFW Lands without a Special Use Permit.

Hunting Opportunities

  • Except for special events, access to the North Chimineas Unit is prohibited.
  • All portions of the South Chimineas Unit located south of Highway 166 are closed to all access and hunting.
  • All persons entering the South Chimineas Unit need to have an access permit in their possession while they are on the property. Access Permits are on the website.
  • Please deposit the completed access permits in the collection boxes at the parking area or at the Caliente trailhead upon leaving.
  • Hunting is allowed for dove, quail, wild pig, and rabbits during CDFW sponsored hunts and on the walk-on days listed below while the appropriate season is open.
  • Walk-on hunting access is allowed only from Highway 166 on the following days:
    • September 1-15 (Wednesdays and Saturdays only) - Dove, Wild Pig, Rabbits
    • December 1-31 (Wednesdays and Saturdays only) - Quail, Dove, Wild Pig, Rabbits
    • January 1-31 (Wednesdays and Saturdays only) - Quail, Dove, Wild Pig, Rabbits
  • Hunting is prohibited for: deer, coyote, ground squirrel, waterfowl.

Area History

In early 1984, The Nature Conservancy and the Bureau of Land Management agreed to explore the possibility of acquiring lands in the Carrizo Plain region to be set aside for preservation and restoration. A committee was formed to develop support and secure funding. Of the lands acquired, the Department of Fish and Wildlife owns and manages a fraction. The property was designated as an ecological reserve by the Fish and Game Commission in 1993.

Related Documents

Map of Carrizo Plains ER - click to enlarge in new window
Click to enlarge


Central Region (Region 4)

San Luis Obispo County

Directions: Hwy 166, 45 miles east of Santa Maria and 25 miles west of New Cuyama. Parking lot and entrance gate are at mile marker 45 on the north side of the highway.

Access Map (PDF)

CDFW Lands Viewer