Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge
Ash Meadows Overview
The Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge covers over 23,000 acres and is part of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which also includes the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, the Moapa Valley National Wildlife Refuge, and the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge.
Located about 2 hours northwest of Las Vegas, it’s a neat day trip to explore the area and wildlife.
Due to the heat of Las Vegas summers, spring and fall are ideal times to visit Ash Meadows. Not only is it more comfortable for visitors but also for the wildlife who will normally take shelter from the summer days and only make their appearances during the evening. An added bonus of visiting in the spring and fall is to see the gorgeous desert foliage in bloom and the fall foliage.
Ash Meadows History
Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge was named after the galleries of ash trees described in expedition notes from 1893 and the refuge was created on June 18, 1984, to protect an extremely rare desert oasis in the Southwestern United States.
Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is one of the first in the United States designated a Ramsar site. (The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of Ramsar sites (wetlands).
Living among the Southern Paiute and Timbisha Shoshone one of the first pioneers in Ash Meadows, “Jack Longstreet,” but his real identity remains a mystery. The only clues to his past were his southern drawl and ability to read and write reasonably well, unusual for most folks at that time. Jack Longstreet found work as a cattle rancher, saloon keeper, and prospector. He even earned a living as a hired gun and made a notch in his weapon for each person he killed, including his brother-in-law. It has been written that this powerful broad-shouldered man with sparkling blue eyes was feared by many but found companionship and respect with the Native American tribes.
In 1896, he built a stone cabin near a spring that still bears his name. Today, the Longstreet Spring and Cabin are among the highlights of the refuge.
The refuge is Administered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Ash Meadows Visitor Center Address – 610 Spring Meadows Road – Amargosa, NV 89020 and their phone number is (775) 372-5435.
How to Get to Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge
There are two options to get from the Las Vegas area to Ash Meadows. Be sure to check the Ash Meadows website as the route through Pahrump has been known to be closed.
The best way to drive to Ash Meadows from Las Vegas is to drive north on Highway 95 for about 90 miles to Highway 373 at Amargosa Valley. Turn left onto Highway 373 and drive south towards Death Valley Junction for 14.5 miles to Spring Meadows Road. Watch for Wildlife Refuge signs along the highway. Turn left onto Spring Meadows Road and drive east towards the refuge with the turnoff about 2 miles before the California-Nevada border.
- 48 miles – Death Valley National Park’s Furnace Cree Visitor Center
- 40 miles – Beatty, NV
- 40 miles – Shoshone, California
- 55 miles – Tecopa, California
- 90 miles – Las Vegas, NV
Ash Meadows Visitor Center
The Ash Meadows visitor center offers visitors interactive exhibits, regular viewings of the Ash Meadows movie (approximately 19 minutes long and VERY informative), a bookstore, and a picnic area. There is no fee to enter the Refuge.
With direct access to the Crystal Springs Boardwalk, the visitor center is a great place to begin your wildlife adventure at Ash Meadows.
There is limited covered parking at the visitor center so it is advised you get there early (especially during the warmer months).
Be sure to take your own drinks, snacks, lunch, etc. as the visitor center has limited options they offer for sale.
The Ash Meadows Visitor Center is located at 610 Spring Meadows Road – Amargosa, NV 89020 and their phone number is (775) 372-5435.
Ash Meadows visitor center operating hours:
- Monday: 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM
- Tuesday: 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM
- Wednesday: 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM
- Thursday: 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM
- Friday: 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM
- Saturday: 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM
- Sunday: 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM
There is a theater at the visitor center to watch a short video (20 minutes) about Ash Meadows. When you are ready to watch it, the person at the front desk will set it up for you.
There are clean restrooms are available at the visitor center and it is advised you use these rather than wait until you are in other areas, which offer pit toilets. In the summer…, well, yuck.
There is no fee to enjoy the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge.
Restrooms at Ash Meadows
You can find restrooms at the Visitors Center, Longstreet Spring & Cabin, and Point of Rocks.
The refuge is open from sunrise to sunset with parts of the refuge being closed to entry. Ash Meadows visitor center operating hours:
Visitor Center: Open 7 days a week year-round Closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day
- Saturday – Sunday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
- Thursday & Friday: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Refuge trails and Boardwalks
- Open 7 days a week – Sunrise – Sunset
Wildlife at Ash Meadows
The wetlands at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in the desert support the greatest local-area concentration of endemic species in the US, with over 1,000 species of plants and animals in the area and 26 species of endemic plants and animals with 13 threatened or endangered species on the refuge, including 4 endangered fish and 1 endangered plant (meaning they are found nowhere else in the world).
The area is home to over 200 bird species and is an excellent place to observe them throughout the year. You can see them migrate through the area during the spring (April – May) and the fall (August – September).
Endemic Species of Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge
|Common Name||Scientific Name||Status|
|Ash Meadows Blazing Star||Mentzelia leuciphylla||Threatened|
|Amargosa Niterwort||Nitrophila mohavensis||Endangered|
|Ash Meadows Milk-vetch||Astragalus phoenix||Threatened|
|Ash Meadows sunray||Enceliopsis nudicaulis corrugata||Threatened|
|Ash Meadows gumplant||Grindelia fraxinopratensis||Threatened|
|Ash Meadows ivesia||Ivesia kingii var. eremica||Threatened|
|Ash Meadows lady's tresses||Spiranthes infernalis|
|Tecopa birdsbeak||Cordylanthus tecopensis|
|Spring-loving centuary||Zeltnera namophila||Threatened|
|Ash Meadows naucorid||Ambrysus amargosus||Threatened|
|Warm Springs naucorid||Ambrysus relictus|
|Devils Hole warm spring riffle beetle||Stenelmis calida calida|
|Ash Meadows pebble snail||Pyrgulopsis erythropoma|
|Crystal springs snail||Pyrgulopsis crystalis|
|Distal-gland springsnail||Pyrgulopsis nanus|
|Elongate gland springsnail||Pyrgulopsis isolatus|
|Fairbanks Spring snail||Pyrgulopsis fairbanksinsis|
|Longstreet Spring snail||Pyrgulopsis spp.||Extinct|
|Median-gland Nevada spring snail||Pyrgulopsis pisteri|
|Amargosa tryonia||Tryonia variegata|
|Minute tryonia||Tryonia erica|
|Point of Rocks tryonia||Tryonia elata|
|Sportinggoods tryonia||Truonia angulata|
|Devils Hole pupfish||Cyprinodon diabolis||Endangered|
|Warm Springs pupfish||Cyprinodon nevadensis pectoralis||Endangered|
|Ash Meadows Amargosa pupfish||Cyprinodon nevadensis mionectes||Endangered|
|Ash Meadows speckled dace||Rhinichthys osculus nevadensis||Endangered|
|Ash Meadows killifish||Empetrichthys merriami||Extinct|
|Ash Meadows montane vole||Microtus montamus nevadensis||Extirpated|
Crystal Springs Boardwalk at Ash Meadows
Crystal Springs Boardwalk is a 0.9-mile roundtrip stroll that will lead you to a beautiful Caribbean-blue spring pool. This spring produces 2,800 gallons of water a minute, is approximately 15 feet deep, and the water stays a consistent 87°F.
Boardwalk amenities are benches, a viewing area complete with scopes, and colorful informational panels along the way.
Click here to learn more and view photos of Crystal Springs Boardwalk.
Crystal Reservoir at Ash Meadows
The 70-acre Crystal Reservoir is an interesting place to stop for a visit. The water is incredibly blue and makes you feel you are in the tropics… well, almost. The reservoir is home to wading birds and waterfowl. It’s a great place to bring a blanket and enjoy lunch while watching the wildlife.
Click here to learn more and view photos of Crystal Reservoir at Ash Meadows.
Devils Hole at Ash Meadows
Since 1952, Devil’s Hole is part of and managed by the Death Valley National Park although it is located within the refuge boundaries. The area is fenced and closed to public entry. Behind the fence, one would find a water-filled cavern that is home to the smallest and rarest pupfish in the world, the Devil’s Hole pupfish. The water maintains a temperature of 93°F all year round.
Learn more about Devil’s Hole.
Longstreet Spring and Cabin at Ash Meadows
Longstreet Spring and Cabin is a short walk from the parking area, approximately 0.2 miles round-trip. This boardwalk leads to an old stone cabin built by a gunslinger, Jack Longstreet, a mysterious man of the wild west. Built into a mound above an underground spring the cabin is cooler than outside temps and was used for food storage by Longstreet. The spring pool near this cabin is sometimes called the boiling spring because fine white sand bellows up from the depths and gives it a ‘boiling’ appearance.
Click here to read more about the Longstreet Spring and Cabin and to view additional photos.
Point of Rocks Boardwalk at Ash Meadows
Point of Rocks boardwalk is approximately 0.5 miles roundtrip and winds through groves of mesquite trees. Within the crystal blue waters, you will find pupfish. Click here to read more about Point of Rocks Boardwalk at Ash Meadows.
Springs at Ash Meadows
- Bradford Spring
- Crystal Spring
- Fairbanks Spring
- Longstreet Spring
- Rogers Spring