Desert National Wildlife Refuge

Quick Facts

Desert National Wildlife Refuge


(702) 879-6110

Map Directions

Things To Do


The Desert National Wildlife Refuge was established May 20, 1936, and encompasses 1.5 million acres of the diverse Mojave Desert in southern Nevada. It is the largest National Wildlife Refuge in the lower 48 states. The Refuge contains six major mountain ranges, the highest rising from 2,500-foot valleys to nearly 10,000 feet. Rainfall amounts vary from 4 to 15 inches; the various elevations, have created amazingly diverse habitats suited to a wide variety of flora and fauna. Over 500 species of plants have been identified in plant communities or zones varying from saltbrush on the valley floors to ponderosa pine, white fir, and bristlecone pine at the highest elevations. The wide variety of vegetative communities provides ideal habitat for many birds, mammals, and reptiles. Numerous recreational opportunities are available on the Refuge. Camping, hiking, backpacking, and horseback riding are all popular activities enjoyed by refuge visitors. Limited hunting for bighorn sheep is permitted. Please contact the Refuge Manager for additional information. Birdwatching is also a popular activity, with a bird list available at the Refuge or online.

Map of Desert Nat'l Wildlife Range

Latitude, Longitude: 36.429812, -115.396957



  • Auto/Motorcycle

    Operation of All-terrain Vehicles (ATVs), including but not limited to all-terrain cycles and quads, is not permitted within the Refuge. Roads are rough, unimproved and may be impassable for passenger cars. They are occasionally closed for maintenance or rehabilitation. Road closed signs are posted for your safety. Make sure your vehicle is in good working condition, has a full tank of fuel and adequate emergency supplies. Don't forget to check your spare tire! No fuel or service is available within the Desert NWR. Please call ahead for current road information.

  • Camping

    Camping is permitted year round but is limited to 14 consecutive days during any twenty-eight (28) day period. Following the 14 day period, person(s) may not relocate within ten (10) miles of the site that was just previously occupied until completion of the 28 day period. All camps except backpack camps must be within 50␣ of designated roads. Camping within 1/4 mile of water developments or springs is prohibited.Campfires are permitted but there is no wood available; you must bring your own. Be careful with fire, a firepan is recommended. Please call ahead for seasonal fire restrictions.

  • Hiking

    The entire Desert NWR, (excluding the portion overlain by Nevada Test and Training Range), is open to hiking and horseback riding. Water is scarce and critical to wildlife. Horseback riders must carry feed and water for their stock. In order to protect native plants, it is highly recommended that only certified weed- free feed be brought onto the Refuge.

  • Historic Sites

    Call the area for more information.

  • Hunting

    No hunting allowed within the Refuge boundary except for desert bighorn sheep hunting by permit only

  • Wildlife Watching

    Fifty-two species of mammals and thirty-one species of reptiles and amphibians have been recorded on the Refuge. In addition, another eight reptile and amphibians are suspected to reside here, but have not been confirmed as being present.

    One endangered species of fish, the Pahrump poolfish, previously resided in the permanent springs at Corn Creek. The small fish was extirpated (no longer found) on the refuge due to the introduction of non-native wildlife such as goldfish, turtles, and crayfish which eat the poolfish's eggs and compete for the same food. A refugium was constructed, and the Pahrump poolfish were reintroduced into this more secure setting.


No water is available on the Desert NWR. Always bring plenty of water--don't ration it! A person requires at least one gallon of water per day in the summer heat. Protect yourself from the sun! Wear a hat, light colored clothing, and sunscreen. Prevent exhaustion by pacing yourself and avoiding extreme midday heat. Elevation ranges from 2,400ft to 10,000ft. Climate varies widely and in summer temperatures may reach 117 ̊F/47 ̊C. Days may be hot and the nights may be cold. Snow occurs almost every winter in the Sheep Range, with occasional sub-zero temperatures, and may result in road closures. It is smart to always dress in layers and obtain a current weather forecast. Flash floods can be caused, in a matter of minutes, by quick, severe thunderstorms. Never camp or park your vehicle in a dry wash or stream bed.



The major access point is through the Corn Creek Field Station, which can be reached by traveling northwest on U.S. Highway 95 about 25 miles from Las Vegas. A brown sign on the east side of the highway near milepost 101 marks the 4-mile gravel road into Corn Creek.

Phone Numbers


(702) 879-6110