Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge

A westward day trip from Las Vegas

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in southwest Nevada was established on June 18, 1984. Ash Meadows is often mentioned in context with the Death Valley National Park system. The “real” Death Valley, however, is located across the stateline in California. Consulting your atlas, you'll find Ash Meadows in the Amargosa Desert, between Beatty and Pahrump. Ash Meadows is a unique ecosystem with many endemic species that are found here and no where else. Geographically being a part of the dry Mojave Desert, this refuge is a warm water wetland including warm water seeps and springs and riparian areas. The springs are fed by underground water, named fossil water, that has been flown underneath the surface for thousands of years.

Ash Meadows offers visitors year round many easily accessible sites. Next to the Refuge Headquarters building, which also functions as a visitor center, is the Crystal Spring Boardwalk. Dirt roads and trails of the refuge, marsh areas and various springs including Jackrabbit, Point of Rocks, Longstreet, Rogers, and Fairbanks Spring and can be found on the Refuge Map.

Ash Meadows is home to a diversity of species. Some are threatened or endangered such as the pupfish species. Others can be found here and in other locations of the Southwest. For example, yerba mansa plants.

Spring at the end of the Crystal Spring Boardwalk Peterson Reservoir seen from the sand dunes

Getting there from Beatty: Go south on Highway 95. Pass the big sand dune you'll see on the right until you arrive at Lathrop Wells. Take Highway 373 south past Amargosa Valley until you see the Ash Meadows sign. Turn left and enter the refuge after a few miles. Inside the refuge, you'll find signs with directions towards the various sites.
Getting there from Pahrump: In northern Pahrump, go west on Bell Vista Ave which turns into Ash Meadows Road after leaving town. After about 24 miles from Highway 160 in Pahrump take the dirt road into the refuge.

Links and further reading:

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service:
Pupfish diversity: Sean C. Lema: “The Phenotypic Plasticity of Death Valley's Pupfish.” American Scientist 2008, 96, 28-36.
Amargosa pupfish:

Last update was made on July 2 in 2008 by Axel Drefahl
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