Oroville Wildlife Area


The approximately 11,800-acre Oroville Wildlife Area is primarily riparian woodland habitat along the Feather River and grasslands around the Thermalito Afterbay. Warm water fish species (largemouth bass, bluegill, green sunfish, channel catfish, and black crappie) can be found in the numerous dredger ponds and the Thermalito Afterbay. Salmon, steelhead, shad, and striped bass can be found in the Feather River.

Wildlife species seen in the area include coyote, badger, fox, bobcat, porcupine, osprey, white-tailed kite, egrets, woodpeckers, and warblers. There are good populations of coyotes, deer, dove, quail, and waterfowl, and fair populations of squirrel and rabbit.

For more information, call the area at (530) 538-2236 or the North Central Region Rancho Cordova office at (916) 358-2900.

Recreational Opportunities

Fishing boat Ramp Wildlife Viewing Deer Hunting Quail Hunting Turkey Hunting Waterfowl Hunting Hunting with Shotguns Bow Hunting Restrooms

Hours: Public entry to the wildlife area is allowed from 1 1/2 hours before sunrise to 1 hour after sunset, except at designated camping area.

Activities: fishing, wildlife viewing, hunting, and shooting range

The Rabe Road shooting range is open daily from sunrise to sunset for rifles, pistols, shotguns, and archery. There is no rangemaster, paper and clay targets only.

Facilities: camping, restrooms, and launch access

Camping: Prior to camping on the wildlife area, visitors must obtain a camping permit from the California Highway Patrol office located at 2072 3rd Street, Oroville, CA 95965, (530) 538-2700. Camping and trailers are allowed in designated campsites only for active permit holders. Camping shall be permitted to not more than seven (7) consecutive days, and not more than fourteen (14) days total in any calendar year. Open fires are prohibited, cooking is allowed only in portable gas stoves.

For motel information, contact the Oroville Chamber of Commerce at (530) 538-2542.

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

Type C: Oroville Wildlife Area, including the Thermalito Afterbay, 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.

Game species include deer, dove, quail, squirrel, rabbit, and pheasant.

Hunting is on the uplands and Thermalito Afterbay. The forebay is owned by the Department of Parks and Recreation and is part of the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area.

Turkey: There is a drawing for the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends and the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Wednesdays of the spring season. Apply through the Special Hunts Online Registration System. There is no fall turkey season.

Waterfowl: Thermalito Afterbay has scull boat and decoy opportunities. The dredger ponds offer decoy and jump shooting mainly in late season.

Area History

Before settlement, the area was typically riparian in nature. Wildlife abounded and some of the earliest explorers were fur trappers. The river alluvium was worked by miners from 1848 to 1857. The combination of available water, riparian vegetation, and grasslands in the adjoining alluvial fans made it suitable for livestock grazing. Permanent agriculture with small orchards and irrigated pastures developed until 1898 when gold dredging operations began. The dredging continued until 1952, leaving the land unusable except for small amounts of fishing and hunting afforded by the ponds and their riparian edges.

Two important diversions were constructed on what is now the wildlife area, and then removed when construction of the Oroville Dam eliminated the need for them. Materials removal for construction of the dam began in 1963. During construction, Department biologists were influential in preserving wildlife values and creating habitat with potential value such as ponds, lakes, and islands. In 1968, the property was designated as a wildlife area by the Fish and Game Commission.

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


North Central Region (Region 2)

Butte County

adjacent to the Feather River, west of Hwy 70 and south of Highway 162

945 Oro Dam Blvd, West
Oroville, CA 95965

Access: Access is via Highway 162 to the headquarters entrance, about 1/2 mile west of Highway 70, or at Larkin Road. Access for Thermalito Afterbay Unit is Wilbur Road at Hwy 162. The Thermalito Unit is five miles west of Oroville, east of Highway 99. Shooting range access is via Rabe Road.

Topographic Maps: Area (PDF) | North Unit (PDF) | South Unit (PDF)

CDFW Lands Viewer