Activities: wildlife viewing and hunting
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 (Day Use or Annual) is required for non-hunting/non-fishing recreational purposes, but not required for those who possess a valid California sport fishing, hunting, or trapping license. Fees are waived for visitors under 16 years old. Organized youth or school groups may request an exemption from the day use fees for tours and events.
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.
PLEASE NOTE: For information on public use regulations for this area and other Department lands please refer to the CDFW 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.
Type A Wildlife Area - Restricted hunter access during waterfowl season. A hunting pass must be purchased in advance and exchanged 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:
*not required for junior hunters
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 p.m. For pheasant hunters, the check station will open at 6:30 a.m. each shoot day.
Waterfowl Area Map (PDF)
Ducks Unlimited waterfowl migration map
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.