Gray Lodge Wildlife Area

birds floating on and flying above marsh


Located in central northern California, Gray Lodge Wildlife Area provides habitat to over 300 species of resident and migratory birds and mammals, including more than 1 million waterfowl every year. Seasonal hunting and fishing, wildlife viewing, nature trails and a taxidermy exhibit are among the popular attractions of this land.

  Wildlife Viewing

  Hiking Trails

  Nature Education

  Visitor Information

  Hunting: Big Game

  Hunting: Small Game

  Hunting: Upland Game Birds

  Hunting: Waterfowl


  Limited Cellular Service

  Enhanced Accessibility

Getting There

North Central Region (Region 2)

Butte and Sutter Counties

3207 Rutherford Road Gridley, CA 95948 (Approximately 60 miles north of Sacramento)

Hours: Open daily, sunrise to sunset.

Directions: From Highway 99 in Gridley, head west on Sycamore Street (Colusa Highway). West of Gridley, a county roadway "green line" leads to Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. Proceed 4.4 miles west on Colusa Highway, then turn south on Pennington Road for three miles. Turn Right on Rutherford Road at the entrance to Gray Lodge Wildlife Area.

Wildlife Area Contact:
Monday - Friday, 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.: (530) 846-7500
Saturday - Sunday:(530) 846-7505

North-Central Region Office: (916) 358-2900

Visiting Gray Lodge Wildlife Area

With its diversity of natural habitats and location along the Pacific Flyway, Gray Lodge Wildlife Area is a haven for wild species. Surrounded by miles of rich agricultural lands, this approximately 9,200-acre property of wetlands, grassy fields and wooded riparian areas provides food, water and shelter for more than 300 species of resident and migrant birds and mammals, as well as numerous other species.

A variety of activities are available to the thousands of people who visit Gray Lodge every year. Educational programs and exhibits, a self-guided nature trail and seasonal guided tours are all popular attractions. A wide array of wildlife species are available to hunters during the regulated hunting seasons, while fishing is a favorite activity in the spring and summer. Wildlife viewing and birdwatching is available to visitors year-round.

 Notice: During winter months, portions of the Wildlife Area may be periodically closed due to flooding.

Things To Do

  • Wildlife viewing, birdwatching and nature photography can be enjoyed throughout the Wildlife Area. A vehicular auto-loop runs through the heart of the property's Designated Viewing Area, providing driving views of wetland and riparian habitat and wildlife.
  • The Wetland Discovery Trail offers a self-guided nature tour, and guided tours are available seasonally at appointed times or by reservation. The property also has a taxidermy exhibit room and offers educational programs.
  • Hunting and fishing are seasonally available to licensed visitors. For more information, see the Hunting, Fishing and Visitor Use information on this web page.

Entry Passes

A CDFW Lands Pass must be in possession of anyone 16 years of age or older while visiting Gray Lodge Wildlife Area.

Visitors who are in possession of a valid California hunting or fishing license in their name are not required to purchase a Lands Pass, but this is true only for the license holder. Visitors age 16 or older accompanying the license holder must either show a valid California hunting or fishing license of their own, or a valid Lands Pass while visiting Gray Lodge Wildlife Area.

Lands Passes may be purchased onlinepurchased online (opens in new tab), by phone at (800) 565-1458, or in-person at locations wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold. A Lands Pass cannot be substituted for a Hunting Pass, which is required for adult hunters on Type-A wildlife areas.

A tour by an organized youth or school group is exempt from the Lands Pass requirement with written authorization. Contact the area Naturalist Office at (530) 846-7505 to obtain a fee waiver and schedule a field trip at least two weeks in advance.

Upon arrival, all visitors must also register on-site. For fishing and most other activities, registration must be completed in Parking Lot #14. During hunting seasons, hunters must register at the Entrance Check Station.


The primary staffed location on the property is the Main Business Office on Rutherford Road, about three miles west from the entrance. During hunting seasons, the Entrance Check Station on Rutherford Road is also staffed.

Portable toilets, a taxidermy exhibit room and picnic tables with good views of the area can all be accessed from Parking Lot #14, about three miles west on the paved road from the main entrance on Rutherford Road. This lot also connects to the paved, 0.3-mile-long (0.6 mile out-and-back) Wetland Discovery Trail, which is gently sloped for the mobility-impaired.

The Wetland Discovery Trail leads to an elevated wooden viewing platform equipped with viewing scopes which overlook a seasonal pond. It also features a self-guided tour consisting of markers along the trail. Pamphlets available at Parking Lot #14 provide educational information keyed to each marker. This feature is available to visitors year-round.

A 3-mile auto-loop, accessed from Parking Lot #14, winds through the central portion of the property's Designated Viewing Area. To limit wildlife disturbance, all visitors must remain inside their vehicles while on this route during our peak visitation season, October through February. Year-round parking is allowed in numbered lots only.

Another trail option is the Flyway Loop Trail, which meanders along the edge of seasonal and permanent ponds. This gravel trail is a 2-mile loop accessed from Parking Lots #14 and #18. Parking Lot #18 is located along the auto-loop, southwest of the Main Business Office.

Also positioned along the Flyway Loop Trail are two wildlife observation hides. These small buildings overlook seasonal ponds and provide great opportunities for viewing and photographing wildlife. Each observation hide overlooks a wetland area and is large enough to comfortably fit a small group of people. They are available year-round without reservation.

The taxidermy exhibit room near Parking Lot #14 consists of numerous taxidermy species of birds and mammals found in Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. There is no additional cost for entry.

Located adjacent to the mobility-impaired parking spaces in Parking Lot #14, a paved path leads to a mobility-impaired fishing access pier. This fishing access and a portion of the pond has been recontoured to increase the fishable habitat around the pier, providing opportunities for fishing, photography and wildlife viewing.

From late February through early October, visitors may access approximately 150 miles of foot and bicycle pathways that extend from the 18 available parking lots on the property. These paths are gently sloped, and primarily graveled or green with vegetation and maintained for public access. From mid-October through mid-February, access may be restricted during waterfowl hunting seasons.

Information on available parking areas and restroom facilities is available year-round at the Main Business Office, Parking Lot #14 and seasonally at the Entrance Check Station. Information on restricted areas during hunting seasons is available at the Main Business Office or at the Entrance Check Station.


Wetlands Discovery Trail is paved for mobility-impaired access. A fishing pier accessible to mobility-impaired visitors is located adjacent to Parking Lot #14. For details on these accessibility features, contact the Naturalist Office at (530) 846-7505.


There is limited cellular phone service available on this property. There is no public Wi-Fi service available.

Maps and Guides

Learning and Getting Involved

Learn more about Gray Lodge Wildlife Area and its history, wildlife and habitat.


Gray Lodge Wildlife Area was purchased in 1931 as the second land in a series of waterfowl refuges established throughout the state. The purpose was to prevent crop depredation during early agriculture expansion in the Sacramento Valley and provide wintering habitat for migratory birds. Known for the abundance of wintering waterfowl, this 2,540-acre parcel was the prominent Gray Lodge Gun Club which sold during the Great Depression.

Between 1931 and 1998 many agricultural land parcels were added to the Area, most acquired for the State of California by the Wildlife Conservation Board to restore, enhance, develop, and maintain wildlife habitats. A larger purpose came with these additions. This was reflected in the property designation change by the California Fish and Game Commission from a wildlife refuge to a waterfowl management area in 1953.

In 1970, the designation changed again to the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, to mark the broadening of responsibility from strictly waterfowl to conserving all wildlife. Currently at 9,200 acres, public use activities have increased to include hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, sightseeing, and nature study.

Learning About the Land


School and group tours led by a wildlife naturalist may be scheduled in advance throughout the year. Each tour includes identification and behavior patterns of wildlife, information on local habitats, and wetlands conservation efforts. Your group’s experience can be catered to include requested information along a specific half-mile walking route.

Tours require a minimum group size and available dates fill quickly, so it is best to schedule well in advance. For more information, contact the Naturalist Office at (530) 846-7505 or email

Nature Walks:

Guided public walks are available on Saturdays and Sundays at 12:30 p.m., October through January, unless raining. Reservations are requested for groups over 20 persons. These walks take about 90 minutes. For more information, contact the Naturalist Office at (530) 846-7505 or email

Classroom Materials:

Classroom environmental educational kits, sponsored by the California Waterfowl AssociationCalifornia Waterfowl Association (opens in new tab), are available for check-out. In addition to group activities that support wetland education, these kits contain a collection of easily accessible resource materials. A one-time, 45-minute educator workshop is required for kit check-out. For more information, contact the Naturalist Office at (530) 846-7505 or email


Volunteers at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area can participate in a variety of special projects, such as monitoring of wood duck nest boxes, assisting with nature walks and school programs, or participating in habitat restoration and removal of non-native vegetation. For more information on becoming a Gray Lodge Wildlife Area volunteer, call the Naturalist Office at (530) 846-7505 or email

Hunting, Fishing and Visitor Use

 Notice: Visitors are responsible for knowing and complying with all regulations pertaining to the use of CDFW-managed lands.

Please refer to the Waterfowl, Upland Game, and Public Use Regulations (PDF)Waterfowl, Upland Game, and Public Use Regulations (PDF)(opens in new tab) booklet for both statewide and property-specific regulations.


 Notice: Due to changing weather, water availability and management needs, the flood up schedule for Gray Lodge Wildlife Area may change at any time.

Hunting Pass Type A: Gray Lodge Wildlife Area has restricted hunter access during waterfowl and pheasant hunting seasons. Adult hunters are required to purchase a Type A hunting pass in advance in order to exchange for an entry permit.

The following game may be seasonally pursued at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area:

See below for more information on species-specific hunting opportunities.

Hunting Rules and Requirements:
  • Deer hunting requires a G-12 deer hunting tagdeer hunting tag (opens in new tab), and take is only by shotgun.
  • Waterfowl and snipe hunting is limited to Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays during the Balance of State waterfowl hunting season. These days are broadly referred to as "waterfowl hunt days."
  • Dove hunting is available daily during the September early season (September 1-15), and thereafter only on waterfowl hunt days for the late season.
  • Pheasant, quail and rabbit hunting is only available on waterfowl hunt days during pheasant hunting season.
  • Fall turkey hunting is only available on waterfowl hunt days during fall turkey hunting season.
  • Spring turkey hunting is by reservation draw only.
  • For all species, hunting is always closed on Christmas Day.

In addition to the above, hunters are responsible for knowing and complying with all Bird Hunting and Land Use RegulationsBird Hunting and Land Use Regulations (opens in new tab), Mammal Hunting RegulationsMammal Hunting Regulations (opens in new tab), and all other rules and regulationsother rules and regulations (opens in new tab) in effect at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area.

Special youth hunting days and veteran and active military hunting days are also available. For more information, contact the Main Business Office at (530) 846-7500.

Blinds for mobility-impaired hunters are available during waterfowl seasons. For more information, contact the Main Business Office at (530) 846-7500.

Hunt Maps:


With its many ponds and miles of canals supporting bass, sunfish, perch, catfish and carp, Gray Lodge offers many fishing opportunities for visitors. All fishing is from the shore in accordance with general fishing regulations. The area is open to fishing seven days a week. From two weeks before waterfowl hunting season to one week after, fishing is restricted to the Avis Fishing Access only.

A valid CDFW fishing license is required. Check fishing regulations for current licensing fees. Licenses are not available at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area and must be purchasedpurchased(opens in new tab) before arrival.

Kids Fishing Day: Generally occurring in May, a one-day fishing event for children ages 15 and under is held each year. Call the Naturalist Office at (530) 846-7505 for details about this year's event.

Rules and Visitor Use

Be aware of the following rules while visiting Gray Lodge Wildlife Area:

  • Horses only allowed on the east side of the property from July 1 through August 31
  • Dogs must be under owner's control at all times and on a leash (10-foot maximum) when not actively engaged in hunting
  • No E-bikes allowed
  • No drones allowed without a Special Use Permit (PDF)Special Use Permit (PDF) (opens in new tab)
  • Camping only allowed in the Entrance Check Station parking lot for hunters on nights preceding waterfowl hunt days

In addition to the above, visitors are responsible for knowing and complying with all Rules and RegulationsRules and Regulations (opens in new tab) in effect at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area.

For specific questions regarding use of this land, call the Main Business Office at (530) 846-7500.

no drones icon

Notice: You may not operate a drone on any CDFW-managed land without a Special Use Permit (PDF)Special Use Permit (PDF) (opens in new tab).

Wildlife Branch - Lands Program
Mailing: P.O. Box 944209, Sacramento, CA 94244-2090