The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) has gravitated from development of single-purpose agricultural projects toward a multipurpose approach to water resource development that includes recreation. Today, Reclamation plays a major role in meeting the increasing public demands for water-based outdoor recreation facilities and opportunities.
The recreation areas developed as a result of Reclamation water projects are among the Nation's most popular for water-based outdoor recreation (see footnote below). Reclamation projects include approximately 6.5 million acres of land and water that is, for the most part, available for public outdoor recreation.
In addition to offering water-based outdoor recreation opportunities, these recreation areas often include important natural and cultural resources and provide unique educational and interpretive opportunities. Twelve (12) Reclamation water projects have been designated as National Recreation Areas that are managed by the National Park Service or the USDA Forest Service.
Reclamation projects have created a variety of recreation opportunities on the rivers downstream from the dams, including world class whitewater rafting and fishing opportunities. In other instances, Reclamation projects have created valuable national wildlife refuges and state wildlife management areas that offer recreation opportunities such as camping, hiking, hunting, photography, and wildlife viewing. Eleven (11) national wildlife refuges have been created as a result of a Reclamation Federal water project.
Reclamation also assists local communities in attracting recreation-related investments and involves local citizens in the decision-making process. As a result, recreation developments meet public needs and expectations.
To use and enjoy recreation areas and facilities that are open to the public, no use permits are required. However, other types of use activities may require authorization from Reclamation. For additional permitting information, please view Reclamation's land and water surface use information.
Share the Experience
Did you capture a beautiful photograph while visiting Reclamation's public lands or facilities? We are looking for the official photo that will be featured on the America the Beautiful Federal Recreation Lands Pass for 2023. Plus, photography winners are also named in other categories including Historic, Adventure, Night Skies, Scenic, Wildlife and Fan Favorite.
Please consider submitting your photo entry to help "Share the Experience." Let others see and appreciate all the incredible federal lands and adventures across the nation. Share the Experience gives amateur photographers the chance to showcase their skills by capturing the beauty of the nation’s public lands and waters.
To learn more about Reclamation's recreational opportunities, please refer to Reclamation's Recreation Overview. For recreational opportunities across all Federal lands throughout the United States, please visit Recreation.gov for maps and additional information.
Footnote: A recreation area can be considered a recreation complex consisting of, among other things, campgrounds, day use areas, parking areas, boat ramps, restrooms, road and trail systems, and visitor centers. It usually encompasses an entire reservoir area defined by an established boundary. A recreation area may have multiple recreation sites.
River Mountains Loop Trail, Robert B. Griffith Water Project, Henderson NV
Reclamation releases public guidance and frequently asked questions regarding the use of e-bikes on Reclamation land. Read More →
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