Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge
Few landscapes are as starkly contrasting as the lush wetlands and arid surrounding Mojave Desert found at the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge, about eight miles south of Alamo on U.S. Highway 93.
Administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the 5,382-acres refuge was created in August, 1963. It is part of the larger Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which includes three other national wildlife sites, Ash Meadows, Desert National and Moapa Valley refuges.
Manager Rob Vinson notes, “It is a living heritage, conserving wildlife habitat and cultural resources for present and future generations.”
A new visitor’s center was opened in January 2015 at Pahranagat.
Located within the Pacific Flyway, a north-south migratory route, the refuge provides high quality migration and wintering habitat for migrating birds, with emphasis on waterfowl. Over 260 bird species have been recorded at the refuge, including the majestic bald eagle.
Both the upper and lower lakes of the refuge are supplied with life-giving waters from Crystal and Ash Springs, some 15-20 miles to the north.
Pahranagat, for example, offers ideal wetlands and riparian habitats for thousands of migratory birds, numerous birds of prey, deer and rare fish.
Originally designated at 3,916 acres in 1963, later acquisitions of land have allowed the refuge to expand to 5,382 acres.
Hiking trails cross through five different habitat types, giving visitors the opportunity to see meadows, marshes, lakes, streams, and desert all within a single afternoon visit. Hunting and fishing are popular activities, and for those interested in experiencing this unique desert oasis at night, camping and picnicking is available at the Upper Lake.
In season, duck hunting is allowed at the Lower Lake (the one to the south).
Tim Parker, visitor’s specialist at the refuge, said there are two more activities planned for the summer.
On August 6 is the Duckwing Maze. Parker describers this as being, “tons of fun for kids and adults. We use real duck wings to navigate an indoor maze. It’s best suited for kids age 9 and older.” Meet at 9:30 a.m. at the visitors center.
Then, on August 13, Parker has planned an “owl calling” evening. It’s a way in the refuge to call owls. “Come to find out how.” It will be held from 8 – 9:30 p.m. at the Visitors Center.
For more information on any of these events call the wildlife refuge, Friday through Sunday, 775-725-3417
— Dave Maxwell