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Eco experience outside of Las Vegas - Ash Meadows

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, one of the most important habitats in the United States.
Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, one of the most important habitats in the United States.
Courtesy of Cyndi Souza, Fish and Wildlife Service

Ash Meadows is a micro habitat of lush wetland plants and desert springs about 2 hours outside of Las Vegas in Amargosa Valley.  Ash Meadows is a desert wetland landscape with walking trails and boardwalks that meander amongst Nevada's most interesting terrain.  It is a biologists Mecca for those who like their habitats wetter that what the Mojave desert usually offers.  Many local marine biologists, limnologists and scientists in many fields get their feet wet here, and there is enough wonderment to keep them occupied with a life time of research on the desert pools, pupfish, native species of plants and the amazing watershed that supplies the area.  Approximately 50 springs seep into the area from ancient water that is left over from our most recent ice age, taking thousands of years to resurface.  

Over 25 plants and animal species are endemic to the area (found no where else on Earth).  Ash Meadows has the greatest concentration of endemic life in the United States, and has 14 threatened and endangered species, making this habitat truly unique internationally.

The restoration of the habitat is a long process managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  In some areas restoration work has gone on for over a decade and thanks to hundreds of volunteers the habitat is on its way to being restored to as it was prior to human disturbances.  The habitat is being restored by the removal of invasive plants and animals, and planting native flora.  Restoration work is a very important part of the management of the refuge.  The habitat has been recognized as an important internationally significant habitat by the Ramsar Convention, a consortium of over 150 countries on wetlands.  For more information visit

Brand new to the refuge is a boardwalk which surrounds King's Pool.  King's pool is where Ash Meadows and Armagosa pupfish live.  These are some of the amazing fish that live in this area.  These little fish defy the obstacles of living in the desert in small pools of ranging temperatures and salinity.  A lot can be learned from these species, from kidney function to how the nomadic Native Americans survived their long treks through the Mojave.

Many mammals reside in Ash Meadows and you may get lucky enough to see bighorn sheep, the cactus mouse, or a kangaroo rat.  Less likely you will see the species of squirrel, rare to Ash Meadows, that was only recently rediscovered in a live trap, a species not collected here since 1891.

A drive though the habitat is a great way to celebrate spring.  Stop at the trails and boardwalks for a stroll, have a picnic at Point of Rocks and experience a real gem of the Mojave.

Be sure to use the strictest of eco friendly habits here, the sensitive habitat is worth preserving and respecting.  Take only photos, and don't leave any footprints on the anything but designated paths and trails.  This experience is best in the spring and fall so get out there and enjoy the scenery.

The refuge is open from sun up to sun down and does not allow camping or fires.  The nearest camping ground is in Death Valley a few miles away.  This is a great day trip from Las Vegas so if you would prefer to opt out of camping - it can be easily accomplished, or combine the experience with an overnight stay in Death Valley and get the most out of your fossil fuels.



  • SilverSac 5 years ago

    Great article, was hanging on every sentence. The way that she writes is so.... inviting and majestic. I will take her idea and stay the night out under the Mojave stars..... Oh, Michelle thank you for the greener side of a black top city. Awaiting your next review.

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