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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.

Recreational Opportunities

Wildlife Viewing Fishing Boat Ramp Hunting with Shotguns Bow Hutning Waterfowl Hunting Pheasant Hunting Restrooms Drinking Water Available

Activities: wildlife viewing, fishing, and hunting

Passes: A CDFW Lands Pass must be carried by each visitor who is 16 years of age or older, however, visitors who are carrying 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 Wildlife Area 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 need to contact the area to schedule a field trip.

link opens in new windowHunt Map (PDF)

link opens in new windowBirding Trail Map (PDF)

For more information about the birding trail, please read the link opens in new windownews release.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Flood up maps are current as of 9/8/2018. Due to changing weather, water availability and management needs, the flood up schedule may change at any time.

PLEASE NOTE: For information on public use regulations for this area and other Department lands please refer to the link opens in new windowCDFW Public Lands Regulations booklet. Scroll to the Table of Contents. Locate the page number for general regulations for public uses on all Department lands. For additional regulations that apply only to certain properties, check the Table of Contents for sections that refer to additional or property-specific regulations for wildlife areas or ecological reserves. All visitors are responsible for knowing and following the general and property-specific regulations.

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.

Last update : 10/31/2018 9:35:08 AM

Wildlife Branch - Lands Program
1812 9th Street, Sacramento, CA 95811
(916) 445-0411

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