Imperial Wildlife Area


NEW: 2020 CDFW Wildlife Area Operational Changes due to COVID-19
The Department plans to operate wildlife areas and refuges to provide recreational opportunities for the upcoming waterfowl season while keeping hunters and department staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please continue to check the Department’s website for updates. For information on closures, visit the Department’s Closure Page.

This property is CLOSED to camping. Individuals may not reside in any manner on this property between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m.

Consistent with the Governor’s Regional Stay Home Order updated December 6, 2020, ALL camping activities on Fish and Wildlife lands are suspended once a Region, as defined in the Order, reaches the 15% ICU bed capacity as directed in the Order. Camping will remain suspended for a minimum of three weeks.


Imperial Wildlife Area is approximately 7,900 acres of salt marshes, freshwater ponds, and desert scrub. Levees and canals form terraces between seasonally flooded ponds and fields. There are also roads throughout the area. Abundant waterfowl and shorebirds can be found here, as well as the endangered desert pupfish. Units include: Wister, Finney-Ramer, and Hazard.

For more information, call the area at (760) 359-0577

Recreational Opportunities

wildlife viewing fishing boat ramp hunting with shotgun waterfowl hunting quail hunting restrooms drinking water disabled access information kiosk or visitor center

Activities: wildlife viewing, fishing, and hunting


Type A: Wister Unit 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.

Type C: Finney-Ramer Unit 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.

Summer days can reach temperatures to 120 degrees. Knowledge of desert survival recommended.

Special access blind sites are available for mobility impaired hunters.

COVID19 UPDATE. CDFW will accept Recreational Vehicle Parking Draw Applications, where applicable, for the 2020-2021 hunt season. However, due to the COVID19 pandemic, we are uncertain at this time whether or not RV camping will be allowed, or what limitations will be in place at our Wildlife Areas during the 2020-2021 season. We will make a final determination based on State guidance concerning camping prior to the relevant upland game and waterfowl seasons. If the decision is made to cancel camping applicants will be contacted in advance of the season. Please note that any potential limitations on camping would not affect hunting on our wildlife areas.

Imperial Wildlife Area cannot currently maintain a huntable population of pheasants, and is closed to pheasant hunting until further notice. CDFW is working to create and maintain additional and sustainable habitat that will allow pheasant hunting to resume in the future.

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

Please refer to the Public Uses on State and Federal Lands section of the link opens in new windowWaterfowl, Upland Game, and Public Use Regulations (PDF) booklet for both statewide and property-specific regulations. A searchable Property-specific regulations table is also available online.

Area History

Prior to development, the area was most likely a desert scrub community. In 1905, the Colorado River broke through an irrigation project and created the Salton Sea. This sea is saltier than the ocean.

At the time of acquisition, approximately 60% of the property was under cultivation, with the remainder undeveloped. The property was designated as a wildlife area by the Fish and Game Commission in 1951. In 1972, about 200 acres were removed to form the Imperial Warmwater Fish Hatchery. In recent decades, the majority of the property has been developed as marsh and green feed, including roads, levees, and canals.

Related Documents

Last update : 12/31/2020 12:39:29 PM
map of Imperial WA - click to enlarge in new window
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Inland Deserts Region (Region 6)

Imperial County

east side of the Salton Sea on Hwy 111, 5 miles NW from Niland

CDFW Lands Viewer