Activities: wildlife viewing and hunting
During inclement weather roads and other areas may be muddy, impassable and periodic closures may occur. Please use extreme caution as area access is at your own risk. Check the Emergency Closures web page for further information.
Hours: The main gate is currently open 7 days a week from 7 am until sunset for your enjoyment. The Headquarters Office is open Monday through Friday from 7 am - 3 pm. The office is closed on all State and Federal holidays.
Passes: A CDFW Lands Pass must be in possession by each visitor who is 16 years of age or older, however, visitors who are in possession of a valid California hunting or fishing license in their name are exempt from this requirement. Lands passes may be purchased on-line, by phone at (800) 565-1458, or in-person at locations wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold. Lands passes cannot be substituted for Hunting Passes, which are required for adult hunters on Type-A and Type-B wildlife areas.
School and organized youth groups, including accompanying adults, are exempt from the lands pass requirement, but should contact the area to schedule a field trip at least two weeks in advance.
Please be advised that during rainy periods the auto tour road may be closed due to unsafe conditions. We recommend calling ahead to check conditions.
Inland Desert Region Wildlife Area Meeting Slides (PDF)
Type A: San Jacinto Wildlife Area, including Davis Road Unit and Potrero 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.
To obtain an entry permit, all members of your party must have the following:
- California Hunting License
- Prepaid Type A One-Day, Two Day or Season Pass*
- Harvest Information Program (HIP) Validation
- California Duck Validation*
- Federal Duck Stamp**
And if hunting upland game birds, also have:
- Upland Game Bird Validation*
*not required for junior hunters
**required for any hunter age 16 or older
Reservations are available for waterfowl and pheasant hunting, and are required for pheasant hunting. Each reservation shall assure entry for up to two adults and two holders of junior hunting licenses.
On waterfowl hunt days, the checking station will open at 3 a.m. and begin issuing entry permits to reservation holders. Hunters without reservations must register at the checking station at that time. A drawing is held to fill vacancies. Vacancies will not be filled after 1:00 p.m. For pheasant hunters, the check station will open at 6:30 a.m. each shoot day.
Unless otherwise restricted by the Department, hunting is allowed daily from ½ hour prior to sunrise until sunset only for upland game birds and resident small game in designated areas (see map (PDF)). A self-issued permit, acquired on-site is required to enter the designated hunting area. Please check in at the permit booth located on Davis Road across the street from the Wildlife Area headquarters office.
Jackrabbit hunting season is open all year. Rabbits may only be hunted in the upland game unit.
The San Jacinto Valley has long been locally recognized for its many water resources, rich soils, and large amount of native wildlife. In 1775-1776, a Spanish Expedition route passed through what is now the wildlife area. The area was part of six land grants given to the San Luis Rey Mission in 1798. After the successful revolt of Mexico against Spain, the Mexican government seized the properties. The land grant that included what is now the wildlife area was given to the Pedrorena family in 1846. The site was used for agriculture and ranching and changed ownership a few times.
With the development of Los Angeles, an aqueduct was constructed in the 1930s to transport water.The aqueduct depleted most of the water resources within the ranch and adjacent lands, and by 1938 most all of the water was gone. Because of the water loss, the lands were mostly leased out for cattle grazing until 1960, when they were converted into a facility for testing rocket propulsion systems. Rocket-testing activities ceased in 1974, and the land was kept vacant to retain the option of continued rocket testing. In the years following, grazing and farming was allowed on parts of the land, and the rest was left for fallow succession. All farming operations ceased when it was determined that the Stephens' kangaroo rat was present on the ranch lands, primarily within the designated and utilized farming areas. However, grazing throughout the ranch remained in operation.
Apart from the ranch lands, many settled near the San Jacinto River and the ephemeral Mystic Lake. Although seasonal flooding provided plentiful water for use, flooding created continuous frustration and hardships for the residents.As a result, the San Jacinto River has been channelized with earthen levees in many sections over the past century.
Due to the abundance of wildlife, the area was once considered a sportsman's paradise. Families and friends would often visit the area for vacation and social gatherings. Recognition of these lands as a valuable resource has led to their preservation. In 1979, CDFW, Department of Water Resources, and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California executed a Memorandum of Agreement for the mitigation of the State Water Project's (SWP) wildlife losses in southern California. The mitigation actions were implemented pursuant to the Davis - Dowling Act of 1961, which includes the preservation and enhancement of wildlife and public recreation as purposes of the SWP. The agreement designated existing SWP lands for wildlife mitigation and provided funding for land acquisition, both of which contributed to the establishment of the San Jacinto Wildlife Area.
The property was designated as a wildlife area by the Fish and Game Commission in 1982. In the following years, areas within the wildlife area have been altered to enhance and enlarge wetland habitats for conservation and for native animal species.