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Birding Around Crystal Reservoir
Birding Around Las Vegas, Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge
Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Crystal Reservior Panorama
Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Crystal Reservior

Description

Crystal Reservoir is a remarkably clear reservoir with a surface area of about 70 acres. The reservoir is held behind a low dam along the southwest side. This dam is a good, elevated place to walk and watch birds on the water and in the thickets below the dam. There are cattails and bulrushes on the northwestern and southeastern ends of the lake, and a few other shrubs here and there, but most of the shoreline is clear and the views of the lake are unobstructed. There are some trees at the northwest corner of the lake near the dam parking area.

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Crystal Reservior

Using a spotting scope, look southwest from the dam towards Horseshoe and Lower Crystal marshes. These areas are difficult to get to when the ground is muddy, but from the dam you can see and identify some of the waterfowl and other large birds using that area.

Location

Crystal Reservoir is located on the Ash Meadows National Wildlife, about 2 hours northwest of Las Vegas and about 0.6 miles south of the Refuge Office.

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Crystal Reservior

From Las Vegas, drive out to the Ash Meadows Visitor Center. From the Visitor Center (Table 1, Site 1588), drive east on Spring Meadows Road for 0.8 miles to Crystal Reservoir Road, on the right (Site 0692). Follow Crystal Reservoir Road for about 0.5 miles to a fork. The road to the left runs south along the lake towards the southeast corner. Continue straight at the fork for another 0.2 miles to reach a parking area on northwest corner of the lake by the dam (Site 0500). Depending on the time of day, viewing might be better from one side of the lake or the other to keep the sun out of your eyes.

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Crystal Reservior
Southeast side of Crystal Reservoir (view south).

Hours

The refuge is day-use only: open sunrise to sunset.

Fees

None.

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Crystal Reservior
Southeast side of Crystal Reservoir (view northwest).

Specialties

Crystal Reservoir is good for waterfowl, wading birds, gulls, shorebirds, swallows, and the incidental desert species that come in for water. From the top of the dam, look for waterfowl on Horseshoe and Lower Crystal marshes.

Crystal Reservoir is also good for finding migrant and desert passerine species, but the species mix depends on the season, and during migration it depends on who is moving through at the time. Review the refuge bird list for ideas on what to expect during the time of year you plan to visit.

Always keep an eye out for oddballs like Yellow-billed Loons.

Crystal Reservoir
Crystal Loop Road near Meadow Spring Road (view SW)
Crystal Reservoir
Crystal Loop Road near Crystal Reservoir (view SW)
Crystal Reservoir
Yellow-billed Loon on Crystal Reservoir
Crystal Reservoir
Dunlin along the shore of Crystal Reservoir
Crystal Reservoir Crystal Reservoir
Crystal Reservoir Crystal Reservoir
Crystal Reservoir Crystal Reservoir
Crystal Reservoir
Dragonfly eating a damselfly
more to come ...

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
0692 Crystal Reservoir turn off 36.4180 116.3190 561053 4030326 2,225 Yes
0500 Crystal Reservoir, north end of the dam 36.4123 116.3292 560145 4029692 2,196 Yes
1588 Ash Meadows Visitor Center 36.42323 116.32703 560329 4030901 2,188 Yes

Happy birding! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 150709

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