San Luis National Wildlife Refuge, Los Banos

#210 of 276 in Wildlife in California
The San Luis National Wildlife Refuge in the San Joaquin Valley of central California is one of the great remnants of a historically bountiful wintering grounds for migratory waterfowl on the Pacific Flyway. Located in the Bear Creek, Salt Slough, and San Joaquin River floodplain, it hosts a myriad of tree-lined channels and oxbows, wetlands and native grasslands.Thousands of acres of wetlands, fed by an intricate set of canals, are managed to produce natural food supplies for migratory waterfowl. San Luis also contains the most extensive network of pristine native grasslands, shrubs, and vernal pools that still remain within the Central Valley.Thousands upon thousands of mallard, pintail, green-winged teal, and ring-necked ducks flock into the managed wetlands; while the 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 frog and crayfish populations. A wide diversity of songbirds, hawks, and owls also use refuge habitat.
San Luis National Wildlife Refuge is just one of the many highlights you can arrange to see using our custom trip planner, Los Banos Edition.
Create an itinerary including San Luis National Wildlife Refuge
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
41 reviews
  • July 1, 2017
    When the birds are migrating this is a wonderful place to visit and observe them. The observation deck is perfectly situated for taking photos.  more »
  • May 22, 2017
    We have stayed at the trailer/rv campgrounds as well as the tent camping area. Very clean park grounds, I will point out the the restrooms are out house style and not very clean. Lots of people fishin...  more »
  • April 20, 2017
    If you visit outside Dec-Jan you are likely to see far fewer birds. Not too much fun except you can enjoy the solitude and slow pace which itself is good too.  more »
  • July 3, 2017
    Tule elk to view from Auto on Auto route. Wonderful visitor's center. Marshlands auto route nice but not that much birding from it
  • May 16, 2017
    We decided to stop on the way home from a Spartan race. There was so much to see and do. My daughter had fun exploring and learning about area and the wildlife here. There hiking trails and autocar tours. We got to spy on the rare California Tule Elk. At one point there number was 27. Thanks to protection and conservation they are a couple thousand strong but far from previous numbers at one time.
  • June 12, 2017
    Great place to get back to nature! Hiking trails and the elk enclosure you drive around are beautiful!
  • June 11, 2017
    The elk were awesome to see. Not to many hiking trails.
  • January 3, 2017
    We came on a rainy day in the late afternoon. We saw all the elk and a few coyotes. At dusk we saw a bunch of deer, rabbits more coyotes, ducks, and a ton of other birds. I can't believe this place isn't more popular. Very cool.

Plan your trip to Los Banos

  • Get a personalized plan

    A complete day-by-day itinerary
    based on your preferences
  • Customize it

    Refine your plan. We'll find the
    best routes and schedules
  • Book it

    Choose from the best hotels
    and activities. Up to 50% off
  • Manage it

    Everything in one place.
    Everyone on the same page.

Where to stay in Los Banos

Browse hotels, guesthouses, and unique homes and book your stay on the world's leading accommodation sites.
Live like a local, find unique places to stay
Millions of travel reviews on TripAdvisor