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Birding Around the Mormon Well Road
Birding Around Las Vegas, Desert National Wildlife Range
Birding Around the Mormon Well Road
Mormon Well Road
Pine Nut Road at Mormon Well Road (view NE)

Overview

Mormon Well is a remote spring in the mountains that attracts birds and other wildlife from miles around. This isn't a birding hotspot, but it adds spice to the adventure of driving the Mormon Well Road, a long, rough dirt road that leads across the desert and over the mountains through some spectacular scenery. There are many habitats to explore and bird, but no real hotspots, so the best way to bird the area is to stop often, get out of your vehicle, and listen for bird songs drifting on the wind. The old corral, built by Mormon pioneers, still stands near the spring and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Please help preserve Nevada heritage by treading lightly here.

The Mormon Well Road is a long, rough dirt road. A high-clearance vehicle is required under all but the best of conditions. There are no services. If you go out there, take at least one gallon of water per person, some food, and expect to be the only people out there. Be prepared to break down and spend a day waiting for help to find you. Your cell phone won't work except for a couple of spots.

Mormon Well Road
Peek-a-boo Canyon (view NE)

Description

Mormon Well Spring provides a year-round water source in a Pinyon-Juniper Forest that attracts wildlife from near and far. The Mormon Well area, used by settlers from about 1900 to 1924 for summer cattle-grazing range, provides silent testament to those who went before us. The spring and the circular corral still remain. Mormon Well isn't a birding hotspot, but getting there is an adventure. The Mormon Well Road is a long, rough dirt road that starts at Corn Creek, passes through relatively high-elevation, relatively moist, Mojave Desert scrub areas, the Yucca Forest, sagebrush flats, and a bit of Yellow-Pine Forest, all of which provides a variety of habitat types and associated species of birds and other wildlife. This region is geologically diverse too, with broad valleys, narrow canyons, and steep, rocky cliffs.

Mormon Campground
Mormon Pass Campground (view N)

Location

The Mormon Well Road is located on the Desert National Wildlife Range north of Las Vegas. Drive out to Corn Creek (Table 1, Site 0106), and then continue eastward for about 50 yards to a T-intersection. Turn south (right) onto Mormon Well Road. The road starts heading south, then turns east and cuts through Yucca Gap, traverses the Yucca Forest (Site 0096), winds through Peek-a-boo Canyon (Site 0108), heads north through sagebrush flats and a nice stand of Ponderosa Pine at Mormon Pass (Site 0648), passes Desert Campground and Mormon Well Spring (Site 0630), and ends on Highway 93 about 2 miles south of Highway 168 (Site 0649) where powerlines cross the highway).

Mormon Well
The Mormon Well corral (view N)

To get to Mormon Well (the spring), drive north from the Mormon Pass (Site 648) for about 2 miles past the campground. Watch for a pullout (old road intersection) on the east (right) side of the road at a place where the road bends hard to the north (left) (Site 650). You can get to the spring from here, or you can drive down the main road a short distance to another parking area on the east (right) side of the road with an old cement watering trough (Site 0651). Park by the trough; this is the trailhead. From the trough, hike south and east on the old closed road for about 5 minutes to the corral (Site 652), which is in a flat area on a bench above the bottom of the canyon. For more directions and a map of the Mormon Well area, visit the Hiking Around Las Vegas webpage about the Desert National Wildlife Range, and click on the Mormon Well link.

Mormon Well
Mormon Well Spring (view E)
Hours

Always open.

Fees

None.

Mormon Well
Seep below spring where birds prefer to drink

Specialties

Scenery, solitude, and hard-core desert birds. The entire area is good for desert birds, but there are no particular hot spots other than Mormon Well Spring. Watch for Golden Eagles along the cliffs north of Yucca Gap (and watch for fossils in the rocks on the south edge of the road). The intersection of Mormon Well Road and Pine Nut Road (Site 0424) usually is a good spot for birds like Scott's Oriole, Northern Mockingbird, Pinyon Jay, Ash-throated Flycatcher, and Cactus Wren. Stop in Peek-a-boo Canyon to look for Western Scrub-jay, Rock Wren, Spotted Towhee, and Black-throated Sparrows. Stop in the Mormon Pass area to check for Mountain Chickadee, Juniper Titmouse, Cooper's Hawks, and Black-throated Gray Warblers. Everything in the woods will come to drink at the spring, so spending the late afternoon sitting quietly near the spring likely would be rewarding (e.g., Black-headed Grosbeak, Purple Finch, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, Black-throated Gray Warbler, and Brown-headed Cowbird).

Mormon Well Mormon Well
Mormon Well Mormon Well
Mormon Well Mormon Well
Mormon Well Mormon Well

Table 1. GPS Coordinates for Highway Locations (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Highway GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Site # Location Latitude (°N) Longitude (°W) UTM Easting UTM Northing Elevation (feet) Verified
0096 Yucca Forest 36.4784 115.2007 661190 4038317 4,830 Yes
0106 Corn Creek parking area 36.4383 115.3575 647223 4033617 2,814 Yes
0108 Mormon Well Road at Peek-a-boo Canyon 36.5028 115.1515 665550 4041102 5,480 Yes
0424 Mormon Well Rd at Pinenut Rd 36.5016 115.1644 664399 4040953 5,282 Yes
0630 Mormon Well spring 36.6443 115.0963 670181 4056896 6,448 Yes
0648 Mormon Pass 36.6234 115.1107 668940 4054556 6,700 Yes
0649 Highway 93 at Mormon Well Road 36.7675 114.9402 683845 4070857 2,507 Yes
0650 Mormon Well Rd at Mormon Well spring, south 36.6462 115.0993 669910 4057101 6,350 Yes
0651 Mormon Well Rd at Mormon Well spring, north 36.6473 115.0991 669926 4057228 6,350 Yes
0652 Mormon Well corral 36.6446 115.0963 670181 4056936 6,450 Yes

Happy birding! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 140225

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