Los Banos Wildlife Area


Purchased in 1929, Los Banos Wildlife Area was the first of a series of waterfowl refuges established throughout the state to manage habitat for wintering waterfowl. Expanded from its original 3,000 acres, there are now approximately 6,200 acres of wetland habitat which includes lakes, sloughs and managed marsh. Western pond turtles, raccoons, striped skunks, beaver and muskrats, as well as over 200 species of birds are among the many animals found here.

For more information, call the Los Banos office at (209) 826-0463 Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

NOTE: Los Banos Wildlife Area is closed to the public from September 15 until the 2nd Monday of February most years. Call to confirm that the area is open

Recreational Opportunities

Wildlife Viewing Fishing Hand-carried boats only Hunting with Shotguns rabbit Huntng Waterfowl Hunting Pheasant Hunting Restrooms

Activities: wildlife viewing, fishing, and hunting

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.


2024 Zone A deer season hunting application (PDF)

Type A: Los Banos 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.

For more information about the birding trail, please read the news release.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Due to changing weather, water availability and management needs, the flood up schedule may change at any time.


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

The Los Banos Wildlife Area was inhabited by a Native American people, the Yokuts, prior to 1840. They lived on the area and throughout the surrounding vicinity as a hunting and gathering culture. Europeans used the area for commercial, subsistence and recreation hunting from the time they first entered the area until lack of wildlife and laws curtailed the first two activities.

The site of the wildlife area lies partially within a huge Mexican land grant, San jon de Santa Rita, granted by the Governor of Mexico in 1841. In 1863, 8,000 acres was purchased by the Miller and Lux firm. By 1870, Miller gained control of the rest of the land grant. He rented and sold large blocks of these holdings. Most farmed small grain in the early years.

In 1929, the Fish and Game Commission purchased 3,000 acres that had been used in a natural condition to graze livestock. These lands had always been used for subsistence and recreational hunting. The rest of the wildlife area was purchased from lands that had been converted to farming by owners subsequent to Miller. The property was designated as a wildlife area by the Fish and Game Commission in 1954.

Map of Los Banos WA - click to enlarge in new window
Click to enlarge


Central Region (Region 4)

Merced County

4 miles northeast of Los Banos

Directions: From Hwy 152 near the east edge of Los Banos, turn north on Hwy 165; travel north 3 miles and then east (right) on Henry Miller Ave. for 3/4 mile.

CDFW Lands Viewer