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Birding Around Peterson Reservoir
Birding Around Las Vegas, Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge
Peterson Reservoir
Peterson Reservoir
Peterson Reservoir (view N from atop dam)


Peterson Reservoir is a remarkably clear reservoir held behind a low earthen dam along the western and southern sides. The reservoir is surrounded by cattails and bulrushes, which obstruct much of the view of the water, but you can walk the dam and watch birds on the water and in the marshland below the dam.

The reservoir is not huge, but a spotting scope would be useful for identifying smaller waterfowl and shorebirds on the far side.

Peterson Reservoir
Marsh below the dike and dam (view W)


Peterson Reservoir is located on the Ash Meadows National Wildlife, about 2 hours northwest of Las Vegas and about 2.1 air-miles northwest of the Visitor Center.

From Las Vegas, drive out to Ash Meadows Visitor Center (Table 1, Site 1588). From the Visitor Center, drive west on Spring Meadows Road for about 1.1 miles to a signed T-intersection (Site 0702) with Peterson Reservoir Road. Turn right and drive north on Peterson Reservoir Road for about 1.5 miles to another T-intersection (Site 0698). Turn left and drive west Peterson Reservoir Access Road for about 0.2 miles to the parking area at the end of the road (Site 0589).

Walk past the gate and out the old road, which runs up onto the dam.

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Peterson Reservoir
Peterson Reservoir during winter


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



Peterson Reservoir
Great Blue Heron feeding among cattails


Peterson Reservoir is good for waterfowl, wading birds, gulls, shorebirds, swallows, and the incidental desert species that come in for water. This is good place for a spotting scope to identify for smaller species of waterfowl and shorebirds on the far side of the reservoir.

Peterson 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 when you will be visiting.

Peterson Reservoir
Trailhead (view W)
Peterson Reservoir
Top of dam and cattail marsh (view E)
Peterson Reservoir
Getting close-up bird photos
Peterson Reservoir
Surveying dragonflies with USFWS permits
Peterson Reservoir
Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa), male
Peterson Reservoir
Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa), female
Peterson Reservoir
Black Saddlebag (Tramea lacerata), mating
Peterson Reservoir
Returning on the dike-trail after dragonfly survey (view W)
Peterson Reservoir
Red-shouldered Hawk above Peterson Reservoir
Peterson Reservoir
Peterson Reservoir (view north from the dam)
Peterson Reservoir
Peterson Reservoir before the cattail grew up
Peterson Reservoir
Peterson Reservoir
Marshland below the dam (view SW from dam)
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
589 Peterson Reservoir 36.4446 116.3516 558110 4033257 2,161 Yes
698 Peterson Reservoir turnoff into lake area 36.4468 116.3463 558588 4033502 2,161 Yes
702 Peterson Reservoir turnoff from main road 36.4251 116.3463 558603 4031095 2,155 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 120820

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