Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is one of those unexpected Mojave Desert surprises.
Barely an hour by car from the hottest and driest place in the continent -- Death Valley -- Ash Meadows is an extensive oasis of over 23,000 acres of pure spring water-fed marshes and blue-green streams and pools.
Located about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Ash Meadows is filled with wildlife, from birds like the desert Phainopepla and insects like dragonflies to reptiles like the Chuckwalla and mammals like coyote. But Ash Meadows is most famous for its fish - the rare pupfish that dart about its waterways. Tiny and glinting, the pupfish are among the 24 Ash Meadows ecosystem animals that are found nowhere else in the world.
Stroll along the wooden boardwalks that run along Ash Meadow's Crystal Spring main viewing area and peer into the transparent waters. A number of interpretive signs explain the environment to visitors. Rangers are sometimes available for questions and further information.
Other areas of Ash Meadows include the dramatic Point of Rocks, Jackrabbit Spring and Crystal Reservoir.
This is a fantastic area for nature lovers and photographers.