Looking for something to do outdoors?
The Gray Lodge Wildlife Area – in the Pacific Flyway – is a haven for wildlife, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The 9,100-acre area is surrounded by agricultural lands and is managed for the wildlife that call Gray Lodge home for all or part of the year.
Peter Tira, public information officer with the CDFW, said right now is a very busy time at Gray Lodge.
“Everyone’s looking for outdoor time,” Tira said. “... It’s peak migration season for waterfowl, so there’s lots of wildlife to look at.”
He said right now, it’s also hunting season – which is allowed on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays in specific areas.
There is also an auto tour – which was revamped over the summer, Tira said.
He said there are also hiking and walking trails.
Starting Feb. 22, he said much will change as hunting season will be over and fishing will become available and about 150 miles of roads will become available to the public to bike and hike.
He said, at a fishing pond, they’ve added a mobility access ramp so those with disabilities can access it easier.
“We’ve tried hard to keep these areas open for (people’s) physical and mental health,” Tira said.
However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, overnight camping is not permitted and they would typically host other programs – such as school groups and tours as well as group photography classes.
He said while right now is peak migration season, Gray Lodge is open year-round and there is always wildlife to see.
“It’s a very special place,” Tira said. “It goes through different seasons, so you’ll see different things depending on the time of year.”
According to the CDFW website, a CDFW Lands Pass is required for each visitor who is 16 years of age or older – visitors who are in possession of a valid California hunting or fishing license in their name are exempt from this requirement, however, a lands pass is not a substitute for a hunting pass (which is required for adult hunters on Type-A and Type-B wildlife areas).
A Lands Pass can be purchased online or by calling 800-565-1458, according to CDFW.
Tira said people can also purchase a Lands Pass at Gray Lodge as long as they provide exact change and place it in an envelope at the kiosk – as there’s no staff available to make change or take credit cards.
Tira said social distancing is practiced and mandated with COVID-19 and people are required to wear facial coverings when interacting with staff.
While the department plans to operate wildlife areas and refuges to provide recreational opportunities while keeping people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s asked that people check the CDFW website for updates.
Gray Lodge is open from sunrise to sunset and is located at 3207 Rutherford Road, Gridley.
For more information on Gray Lodge, to purchase a Lands Pass or to view maps, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/lands/places-to-visit/gray-lodge-wa.