Bicknell Bottoms Wildlife Refuge

Looking for a quiet place to do a little bird-watching?  Head to Bicknell Bottoms, where 670 acres of wetlands meets open waters and surrounding farmlands for one of the best natural marshes—and birding sites—in Utah.    This Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is a great place for waterfowl and bird watching, hunting, and trout fishing along the Fremont River and Pine Creek.

wildlife bird viewing

Bicknell Bottoms Wildlife Refuge is easily accessible from Scenic Byway 24.

Bicknell Bottoms was once the site of Red Lake, a shallow bed now filled with silt, reeds, hardstem bulrush, saltgrass and cattails.  Shallow open waters provide an excellent home for waterfowl and upland game birds.   On a regular basis, this marshy habitat is home to the Great Egret, Northern Harrier, Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, Northern Mockingbird, Blue-winged Teal, marsh wren, puddle ducks, geese and a variety of other waterfowl.

bicknell bottoms

Bicknell Bottoms Wildlife Refuge near Capitol Reef

Visit Bicknell Bottoms in spring or fall and you’re sure see migrating birds taking a break in the marshlands during their long commute. You may even catch a glimpse of a rare protected species such as the Bald Eagle and American White Pelican.  Birding is mostly done from the road and occasionally by canoe.  Don’t forget your spotting scope and camera!

Pine Creek and the Fremont River flow through part of Bicknell Bottoms, and are stocked with rainbow and brown trout.  Fishing is allowed in the WMA, but take care when wading through the soft mud and dense, marshy vegetation. There are some good-sized fish here, but fishing is more common a bit downstream.

Geese Utah Wildlife

Geese find a place for rest and a meal in this ideal spot.

Originally used for irrigation and livestock grazing by private farmers, the lands that make up Bicknell Bottoms were purchased by the UDWR to provide a habitat for waterfowl, upland game birds and fisheries, with public access.  The J. Perry Egan fish hatchery located in Bicknell Bottoms is one of the most important sport fish stockeries in the state.  Nearby, a colony of the protected Utah Prairie Dog has also found refuge here.

Over the years, steps have been taken to improve both the habitat and sport fishing.  In 2008, the Bicknell Bottoms WMA was designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA) in accordance with the National Audubon Society.

This birding hotspot is located west of Torrey, just a couple of miles south of the small town of Bicknell.  Take Posey Lake Road to the paved road that leads to the J. Perry Egan fish hatchery, where you can get walk-in access to the managed lands.  The surrounding areas are mostly privately owned, but you can also gain access from Bicknell by traveling south on 400 West for two miles to the Fremont River.

Click to learn more about Bicknell, Utah

Learn about other wildlife viewing opportunities in Capitol Reef Country.

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