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Birding Desert National Wildlife Range
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Birding the Desert National Wildlife Range

The Desert National Wildlife Range (a federal wildlife refuge), located just north of Las Vegas (map), was set aside to protect Desert Bighorn Sheep. In doing so, they also protected the old homestead at Corn Creek, an oasis of streams, ponds, and trees in a vast sea of low-elevation Mojave Desert Scrub. Corn Creek is a magnet for birds, and virtually every species ever seen in southern Nevada has been seen here. Historically, this has been the number one, best place to look for desert birds around Las Vegas (but finding bighorn sheep will take some serious effort in the backcountry). Corn Creek is also a good place for watching dragonflies. Birding can be quiet here, but if there are desert birds in southern Nevada, this is where to find them.

The main roads past refuge headquarters are rough and generally require a high-clearance vehicle (4WD if the roads are wet). A careful driver could probably drive the main roads (Alamo Road to Hidden Forest Road; Mormon Well Road to Desert Pass Campground) in almost any vehicle. Remember: it only takes one patch of soft sand or one deep rut to get stuck.

For access and other information, see the Desert National Wildlife Range overview page or the hiking overview page.

DNWR area map

Corn Creek. A desert oasis with springs, ponds, running water, cottonwood and mulberry trees, the remnants of an orchard, and a pasture, all of which is surrounded by open desert scrub and mesquite-sanddune woodlands. Historically, this has been the number one, best place to look for desert birds around Las Vegas.

Gass Spring. A tiny spot of water in the vastness of the desert supports a few shrubs, a bit of grass, and lots of wildlife. A long drive to a very wild and remote place.

Mormon Well Road. This historic road passes through low- and middle-elevation Mojave Desert Scrub, sagebrush flats, Pinyon-Juniper Woodlands, a Yellow-Pine Forest, and rocky canyons, providing a variety of habitats with a variety of desert bird species. This long, rough road offers a bit of a backcountry adventure and some hard-core desert birding.

Quail Spring Guzzler. A remote, quiet corner of the desert with a small bit of water that attracts birds and other wildlife from a wide area. Best visited by birdwatchers during warm, dry weather when wildlife is forced to seek permanent water.

Yucca Forest. A middle-elevation, relatively flat Mojave Desert Scrub area with a dense forest of Joshua Trees. Because of the elevation and proximity to the mountains, the area gets a fair bit of rain and the vegetation is relatively lush. This is a good place to look for resident and breeding desert birds among the vastness of the desert.

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

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