By Bob Difley
The Desert National Wildlife Refuge is not somewhere you go to stay in a full hook-up RV resort or to visit Nevada’s famed casinos.
More likely you’ll be slathering on sun block and scanning the horizon for a bit of shade. But the oasis at the refuge headquarters at Corn Springs is a welcome splash of green grass, green trees, and shade surrounded on all sides by desert scrub and creosote.
An amazing number of migratory and song birds visit this refuge to take advantage of the copious water flow from the year round spring, plentiful food supplies, and a safe nesting habitat. Observation is best in early morning and late afternoon during the most active feeding times for both birds and wildlife.
As many as 50 species of birds have been counted here in a single morning, flitting about in the large oak trees, cottonwood, willow, and fruit trees planted by earlier residents that flourish around the spring.
In the back country of this huge 2,200 square mile refuge — the largest in the lower 48 states — live the greatest number of bighorn sheep outside of Alaska, as well as mountain lions, eagles, coyotes, and kit foxes. You wouldn’t notice the refuge unless you traveled the four miles of dirt road to the visitor center, one of the BLM’s few, which has maps, bird lists, restrooms, and a wonderful nature trail leading around the ponds fed by the spring.
Boondocking with views of looming Mt. Charleston is permitted on the open land surrounding the visitor center.
For the adventurous, the Mormon Well Road, suitable for four-wheel drive or high clearance two-wheel drive vehicles, starts from Highway 95 and terminates on Highway 93 near State Route 168. Typical travel time from Las Vegas is about four hours total.
Take I-95 north from Las Vegas 22 miles to the Desert National Wildlife Refuge sign and turn right four miles to the visitor center.
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