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San Luis National Wildlife Refuge

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San Luis National Wildlife Refuge
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General Information

Description - The San Luis NWR is comprised of 7,340 acres of intensively managed wetlands, native grass uplands and riparian habitat. The tree-lined Salt Slough and the meandering San Joaquin River nearly enclose the lush grasslands of this refuge. Canals and water control structures take advantage of the natural topography to produce marsh plants/seeds required by the wintering waterfowl populations.

Although 95% of the Central Valley's wetlands have been drained and converted to agricultural use, the migration patterns of migratory species have not changed. The birds continue to fly their ancient routes and crowd into the remaining wintering habitat in the San Joaquin Valley.

San Luis NWR was acquired to provide habitat for migratory waterfowl. Located within the Bear Creek, Salt Slough, and San Joaquin River floodplain, this refuge hosts a myriad of tree-lined channels and oxbows.

Hundreds of thousands of mallard, pintail, green-winged teal and ring-necked ducks flock into the managed wetlands, while the colorful, yet secretive, wood duck lives throughout the tree-lined slough channels. Herons and egrets nest in majestic oaks and willows, then feed on the refuge's abundant fish, frog, and crayfish populations. A wide diversity of songbirds, hawks, and owls also utilize the refuge habitat.

Recreation - There are two self-guided auto tour routes and three hiking trails with several observation platforms along the way. San Luis NWR is recommended for those seeking duck concentrations, especially mallards and green-winged teal. The refuge also hosts a herd of magnificent tule elk which are visible from the auto tour. Pheasant hunting is permitted on a portion of the refuge on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays during the hunting season. Fishing for channel catfish, bullheads, striped bass, carp and black bass is also permitted.

Climate - A generally warm, dry climate prevails in the Central Valley. It is hot in the summer, mid in the winter. In the Central Valley, precipitation falls mainly from October through April. Winter temperatures well below freezing produce frost, however, snow is very rare. Summer temperatures above 100 F are part of the normal pattern.

Location - From Highway 152 in Los Banos, take Highway 165 (North Mercy Springs Road) north 8 miles, then northeast 2 miles on Wolfsen Road to the refuge.

The Kesterson unit's public access point can be reached by driving 4 miles east of Gustine on Highway 140.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: With my family from the mountains of Western Maryland, we drove out to view the Tule Elk and had a wonderful day watching the elk watch us, looking at Kites, Great Blue Herons, Kingfishers, Egrets of all varities, Sandhill Cranes, and gobs of varities of ducks and geese. Awesome day. The trip occured in February. HIGHLY recommended. can even bicycle around the enclosures....bring water. wear layers of clothes. bring binoculars and bird books!

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Biology
ICON Viewing Wildlife

More Information

Contact Information:
San Luis NWR, P.O. Box 2176 , Los Banos, ca, 93635-2176, Phone: 209-826-3508
, gary_zahm@fws.gov

Additional Information:
California National Wildlife Refuges - The refuges offer opportunities for bird-watching, viewing numerous other types of wildlife, fishing, hiking and environmental interpretation, and simply enjoying nature.
Central Valley Region - California's breadbasket, the great Central Valley, stretches for 450 miles down the center of the state, from Willows to Bakersfield. This region includes culturally diverse communities, historic sites, exceptional outdoor recreation, abundant wildlife and the California Delta.


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