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Birding Around Bitter Spring
Birding Around Las Vegas, Lake Mead Region
Birding Around Bitter Spring
Bitter SpringBitter Spring (view NW)

Description

Bitter Spring is a quiet little place for birdwatching where water flows in the desert and forms a spot of green amid the vastness of the dry Mojave Desert. At the spring, vegetation includes two cottonwood trees and a few sprouts, lots of narrowleaf cattail, honey mesquite and desert willow, some catclaw acacia, black-banded rabbitbrush, and arrowweed, plus saltcedar that Land Managers are trying to eradicate (feel free to pull up seedlings). The surrounding desert is dry creosote bush, white bursage, and a few other hardy species.

Flash floods during the fall of 2010 and 2012 scoured away most of the emergent vegetation, but the cottonwoods survived and the other vegetation is growing back.

Bitter Spring
Jeep at 4WD parking adjacent to riparian area

There is enough water, even after years of drought, to form a creek that runs intermittently for a few hundred yards before disappearing back into the sand. The water attracts birds and other wildlife (including wild burro, coyote, kit fox, and white-tailed antelope squirrel) from a wide area. Watch for finches and sparrows, plus flycatchers, hawks, and unfortunately, brown-headed cowbirds.

NOTE: Under all but the best of road conditions, driving to Bitter Spring requires a high-clearance vehicle. Take water and food, and be prepared to walk out if your vehicle gets stuck. In a 2WD high-clearance vehicle, bird watchers can safely drive south on Bitterspring Road to Echo Wash Road, then drive east on Echo Spring Road until the road drops into the wash (see banner photo). At that point, park on firm ground and walk the short distance to the spring.

itter Spring

Location

Bitter Spring is located off Northshore Road in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, about 1-1/3 hours northeast of Las Vegas.

From town, drive out to Lake Mead. From the intersection of Northshore Road and Lakeshore Road, drive north on Northshore Road for 25.9 miles to Bittersprings Road, which is just before Mile Marker 26. Turn left (north) onto Bittersprings Road and drive 3.5 miles to the 2WD parking or 3.6 miles to the 4WD parking. Watch for cottonwood trees in the wash; you can't miss it.

For details of the road and GPS waypoints, see Bittersprings Road.

Bitter Spring
Water emerges from the sand where an impermeable layer of rock forces water to the surface (view east).

Hours

Always open, but consider it a day-use area.

Fees

It costs $10 per vehicle to enter the Lake Mead area (annual passes accepted); after that, there are no extra fees for using the spring area, which is actually on BLM land.

Bitter Spring
Fall color in the desert

Specialties

This is a good place to check the trees and shrubs for desert residents (e.g., Verdin, Black-throated Sparrow, House Finch, Phainopepla, and Gambel's Quail) and to look for migrants (e.g., warblers, American Pipit, and White-crowned Sparrows) during fall, winter, and spring. Keep an eye out for dragonflies too.

Also watch for Mourning Dove, Northern Flicker, Common Raven, Bewick's Wren, Rock Wren, and Black-tailed Gnatcatcher.

Birding Bitter Spring
Feb. 2011
Birding Bitter Spring
Feb. 2011
Birding Bitter Spring
Feb. 2011
Birding Bitter Spring
Feb. 2011
Birding Bitter Spring
Feb. 2011
Birding Bitter Spring
Feb. 2011
Bitter Spring Bitter Spring
Bitter Spring
Red-Spotted Toad tadpoles
Bitter Spring
Red-Spotted Toadlet
Bitter Spring
Spring and cottonwood tree
Bitter Spring
This is one tough cottonwood tree
Bitter Spring Bitter Spring
Bitter Spring
Common Reed: sad to see weeds getting established
Bitter Spring
Birdwatchers in the riparian zone

Happy birding! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 121213

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