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Birding Around Crystal Spring
Birding Around Las Vegas, Outside the Las Vegas Valley, Pahranagat Valley
Birding Around Crystal Spring
Pahranagat Valley, Crystal Spring
Crystal Spring parking area (view SE)

Description

Crystal Spring produces thousands of gallons of water per day and supports a small riparian area and stream. The site has warm springs, clear water, trees, shrubs, grasses, and aquatic vegetation, all of which is surrounded by the vast Mojave Desert. Like other little spots of green in the desert, this area is a magnet for birds.

Crystal Spring is typical of thermal desert springs in southern Nevada and includes 3- to 6-foot deep springpools and shallow streams. Aquatic vegetation is abundant during the spring and summer and includes filamentous algae and emergent vegetation. Shoreline vegetation includes grasses, shrubs, rushes, cattails, and wildflowers, and the trees include ash, cottonwood, and willow.

Link to map.

Pahranagat Valley, Crystal Spring
Clear, warm-water local's swimming hole (view NW)

The spring is on private property, but a gap in the fence and trail seems to invite people onto the property (or at least discourages people from damaging the existing fences). This is a great little place to bird, but please respect the property owner by not trashing the place. It would be a shame to see "no trespassing" signs go up. In addition, and this is extremely important, this spring supports two federally endangered species of fish. The Pahranagat Roundtail Chub (Gila robusta jordani) is found only in Crystal Spring and in about 7 miles of the Pahranagat River downstream from the spring. The Hiko White River Springfish (Crenichthys baileyi grandis) is only found in Hiko and Crystal springs. The springs and a small amount of land around them are designated as critical habitat for these fish, so visitors must use the area carefully lest the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decide to keep us out too.

Pahranagat Valley, Crystal Spring
Clear, warm-water spring near parking area (view NE)

Crystal Spring is not a destination, but rather one of several birding sites in the Pahranagat Valley to visit as a group or on the way to somewhere else. The site is right along the highway, so be careful of the traffic.

Of historical note, a small stage station was developed here in 1865, and when Lincoln County was formed, Crystal Spring was designated as the county seat. Soon thereafter, however, Hiko became the county seat. The station here was abandoned in 1870 when the stage stopped running. Stone foundations are said to mark the site, but I've not seem them.

Also of note is that this is the start of the Extraterrestrial Highway. A lot of strange things have been seen out west of here in the desert, especially back in the days when the public could easily climb the hills and look down into Area 51 (now it is just harder). UFO-buffs and the curious are encouraged to head west and visit the town of Rachael where limited services are available at the Little A'Le'Inn.

Birding Crystal Spring

Location

Crystal Spring is located in the Pahranagat Valley, about 108 miles north of Las Vegas.

From town, drive north on Interstate 15 to Highway 93. Turn left on Highway 93 and drive north past the towns of Alamo (95 miles) and Ash Spring (102 miles) to the intersection of Highways 93 and 318 (107 miles).

Turn left onto Highway 318 and drive west for 0.7 miles to Crystal Spring, which is located at the intersection of Highways 318 and 375. Park by the historical marker on the southwest side of the intersection (Table 1, Site 441). The gap in the fence is behind the marker, and the springs are just south of the highway.

Pahranagat Valley, Crystal Spring
The springs produce lots of water (view E)

Hours

Always open, but it is private property, so respect the owner's rights and don't trash the place. Consider the site to be day-use only.

Fees

None.

Pahranagat Valley, Crystal Spring
Spring near the parking area

Specialties

This is a good birding area for passerines, especially migrant warblers, wrens, sparrows, swallows, and towhees. Look the endangered fish too, although you are more likely to see the nonnative aquarium species that people released into the springs (e.g., convict cichlids, sailfin and shortfin mollys, mosquitofish, bullfrogs, and crayfish).

crystal spring
Old access point (view S)
crystal spring
Old access point; please respect private property (view S)

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 (ft) Verified
0441 Crystal Spring 37.5318 115.2326 656162 4155128 3,819 Yes
0677 Highway 93 at Highway 318 37.5289 115.2191 657363 4154834 3,831 Yes

Happy birding! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 170629

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