Welcome to the
Desert National Wildlife Range
The Desert National Wildlife range was established in 1936 and encompasses 1.5 million acres (over 2,200 square miles) of the diverse Mojave Desert in southern Nevada. It is the largest National Wildlife Refuge in the 48 contiguous states. Perpetuating the desert bighorn sheep and its habitats is the most important objective. Visitors are welcome.
The Range contains six major mountain ranges, the highest rising from 2,500-foot valleys to nearly 10,000 feet. Annual rainfall ranges from less than four inches on the valley floors to over fifteen inches on the highest peaks. Of the six mountain ranges, the Sheep Range is the highest, most scenic and supports the greatest diversity of wildlife and vegetative types.
The Range actively improves bighorn habitats by developing new water sources and maintaining and improving existing ones. Dependable, year-round water sources located throughout bighorn habitat enable bighorns to use all available habitat which reduces competition for food, cover, water, and space.
Numerous other wildlife species share the range with bighorns. Mule deer, coyotes, badgers, bobcats, foxes, and an occasional mountain lion are the larger mammals. Over 260 species of birds have been identifies on the range. Examples are phainopepla, roadrunner, pinyon jay, house finch, loggerhead shrike, red-tailed hawk, and golden eagle.
Plant Communities and Wildlife Vary with Altitude and Climate
The presence of certain plant communities as described below are clues to viewing certain wildlife species. Most of these plant communities can be seen when driving the Moron Well Road. Only the highest portions of the coniferous forest communities are inaccessible by car.
Desert Shrub Communities
Creosote bush and white bursage are dominant shrubs in the hottest, low elevations of Desert National Wildlife Range. A couple thousand feed above the valley, Mojave yucca and cactus become abundant. Near 6,000 feet at the upper edge of the desert shrub communities, black-brush and Joshua tree are dominant.
Desert bighorn often inhabit the upper elevations of this community as do loggerhead shrikes, cactus wrens, and sage sparrows. Lizards are common at the lower elevations as are ravens, LeConte's thrashers, and black-throated sparrows.
An anomaly in these communities is the habitat at Corn
Creek. Here springs turn the desert into an oasis attracting over 200 species of birds. You may see Audubon's warbler, green-winged teal, red-tailed hawk, western kingbird, western tanager, phainopepla, northern oriole, and more.
Above 6,000 feet Joshua trees become scarce and are replaced by single-leaf pinyon and Utah juniper. Big sagebrush is the most common shrub.
Desert bighorn and mule deer inhabit the woodlands when springs are close or vegetation is lush from recent rains. Pinyon jay, common bushtit, and broad-tailed hummingbirds are common in the desert woodlands.
Coniferous Forest Communities
From 7,000 to 9,000 feet where snow and rains tend to linger, Ponderosa pine and white fir are dominant trees. Near 10,000 feet where the growing seasons are shortest, the only trees surviving are bristlecone pines.
Desert bighorn and mule deer are found here, but are more numerous at the lower elevations. Mountain lions are present bug scarce. the only common reptile is the sagebrush lizard. Clark's nutcracker, white-breasted nuthatch, and canyon wren are common birds.
For further information, contact:
Desert National Wildlife Range
1500 North Decatur Boulevard
Las Vegas, Nevada 89108