Cartago Wildlife Area

Image of Cartago Wildlife Area


Cartago Wildlife Area consists of 232 acres of freshwater wetland and springs which provide habitat for waterfowl, wading birds and shorebirds including western snowy plovers, white-faced ibis and rails. Owens Lake has been designated a Nationally Significant Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society and American Bird Conservancy, and 144 bird species have been documented on the wildlife area. The topography of the area is generally flat and at an elevation of 3,600'.

For more information, call the Inland Deserts Region Bishop office at (760) 872-1171.

Recreational Opportunities

Wildlife Viewing Hunting with Shotguns Quail Hunting Waterfowl Hunting

Activities: wildlife viewing, birdwatching, photography, and hunting

Ruins of an old soda ash processing plant are on the southwest side of the wildlife area. Old dikes 3'-4' high extend into Owens Lake bed and encircle ponds which were once used as soda evaporators.

Hunting: Waterfowl, dove, quail, and rabbits may be present. Shotguns only (due to the close proximity of Hwy 395).

Type C: Cartago Wildlife Area does not require the purchase of a hunting pass for entry. Entry permits and/or passes or special drawing may be required for hunting on some Type C wildlife areas.

Facilities: None

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.

Area History

Cartago Springs contains one of the few remaining spring and wetland areas on the shore of Owens Lake. Groundwater pumping and surface and groundwater export by the Los Angeles City Department of Water and Power has significantly reduced wetland habitat acreage and quality, and has significantly impacted vegetation in the Owens Valley since the 1950s.

The purpose of the acquisition was to protect existing wetland and aquatic habitats found onsite. The property was designated as a wildlife area by the Fish and Game Commission in 2007.

Map of Cartago WA - click to enlarge in new window
Click to enlarge


Inland Deserts Region (Region 6)

Inyo County

southwestern shore of Owens Dry Lake, about 75 miles south of Bishop and 60 miles north of Ridgecrest on Hwy 395 at Cartago

Access: From Bishop or Ridgecrest take Hwy 395 to Whitney Street in Cartago. The wildlife area boundary is about 1/2 mile east of Hwy 395.

CDFW Lands Viewer