With hundreds of plant species and animals, the Desert National Wildlife Refuge showcases the abundant nature of Southern Nevada and offers a variety of recreational opportunities such as hiking, camping and limited hunting -- all just a short drive from the Las Vegas Strip.
Created in 1936 to provide habitat and protection for desert bighorn sheep, the 1.6 million acre area consists of four refuges -- Ash Meadows, Desert, Moapa Valley, and Pahranagat -- and encompasses six major mountain ranges from the Mojave to the Great Basin Desert. It is the largest refuge outside of Alaska.
Though the refuge was inhabited over the years by Southern Paiute and ranch homesteaders, it still remains largely untouched by humans. It is home to approximately 320 bird species, 53 mammal species, 35 reptile species, and four amphibian species, as well as more than 500 plant species. Many of the animals are nocturnal, but desert bighorn sheep are active during the day and can sometimes be spotted, even in the hottest parts of the summer, so be sure to bring your camera.
Whether camping at one of Desert Pass Campground's six primitive camp sites, hiking one of Corn Creek's five trails or braving the elements by taking your adventures to the refuge's backcountry, recreational enthusiasts will find something to enjoy.
For more information, an 11,000-square-foot Visitors Center at Corn Creek houses interpretive exhibits, a gift shop and bookstore, classrooms and administrative offices. Detailed topographic maps of the refuge are available to buy at the Visitors Center.