Encompassing six major mountain ranges and seven distinct life zones, Desert NWR showcases the abundance and variety of nature that can be found in Southern Nevada, all just a short drive from Las Vegas.
Created in 1936 to provide habitat and protection for desert bighorn sheep, Desert NWR is the largest wildlife refuge outside of Alaska. At 1.6 million acres (643,000 hectares), the refuge can cover Rhode Island twice - and still have enough room left over for a quarter of a million football fields. Teeming with diversity over a vast landscape, Desert NWR boasts over 500 plant species as it transitions from the Mojave to the Great Basin Desert.
While Desert NWR has been home to people for thousands of years, from Nuwuvi (Southern Paiute) to ranch homesteaders, the refuge still remains largely unchanged by human hands. Over 1.3 million acres (536,000 hectares) of the refuge is proposed wilderness, and has been managed as de facto wilderness since 1974. See collared lizards sunning on rocks, hunt for tracks of elusive mountain lions, or grab your binoculars for a better look at our 320 bird species. A unique and solitary experience awaits you at Desert NWR.
As of 10/9/2020 the website says camping is allowed.
Arrived late at night and the camping pads were all closed, and there were “No Camping” signs everywhere. Don’t waste your time.
Campground Review: So this place is an incredible enigma. It has cacti, ponderosa pines, endangered fish, and joshua trees. It is literally less than an hour north of Vegas proper but it is the largest wildlife refuge South of Alaska but it only has 1 paid employee and the rest are local volunteers that are retired folks and vets. So please clean up after yourself and take care of the area you are camping in.
Once you turn off to visit the Corn Creek visitor’s center you can take a leisurely stroll on the property and visit the endangered poolfish exhibit, the reservoir, and some old railroad tie buildings.
The location for camping is beautiful. It is dispersed camping so just make sure that you are staying off the plants and on previously established sites as best as you can. There are lots of backroads so make sure you also have good tires in order to get over the initial pass.
There are bathrooms at the visitor’s center that are open all night so you have those if you need them.
Nearby is the brand new Tule Springs Fossil Bed National Monument. It is so new that it only has a small sign. It is sprawled out in multiple locations so you will need to ask for specific directions to get to the location of the main hiking area.
Gear Review: Travellers Autobarn Kuga Campervan(Pickup and Drop off)
While out volunteering over a week for the Audubon Bird Counts, I was able to evaluate the AWESOME Kuga campervan. Since I was gone for 7 days, I broke my evaluation up into sections where the most important features of the van were utilized. If you want to see the rest, check out my reviews for Pahranagat Wildlife Refuge, Cathedral Gorge State Park, Ash Meadows Wildlife Refuge, Desert Wildlife Refuge, and Big Dune Recreation Area.
This company is awesome, they come from Australia and New Zealand and we are super excited to have a truly affordable rental camper van in the United States! You can rent out different sizes and get an array of gear with them. This is perfect for music festivals, road trips, and for camping in extreme weather.
Check them out here: https://www.travellers-autobarnrv.com/campervan-rv-rentals/kuga-campervan/
- Pickup: Picking up my camper van from Vegas could not have been easier. I showed up a little early for pick up and the guy was organizing and switching over the van gear. Apparently the original van I was going to be getting had a small crack in the windshield and he didn’t want me to drive away with any doubt about the windshield. I didn’t want him to waste his time worrying about it and the crack wasn’t even in my eye line so I let him know it wasn’t necessary to switch the vans. The fact that he really cared about my trip so much to take that extra effort for a small crack was lovely. The pick up location is about a 15 min drive from the airport so it only cost me about $15 for an Uber ride. I would suggest not taking a taxi, that cost about $45. When I pulled into the lot the first thing that stood out to me was the large array of vans and brightly colored inspirational posts. We headed into the office to go over the paperwork and sign the rest of the forms and the whole process took about 10 mins. Then we took an ipad out to the van so I could take pictures of anything that I might be worried about being charged for afterwards. The van was in great shape so I simply took pictures of all the sides of the van and then that was it. It was time to move in. I brought a large travel bag since it was winter and I was going to be doing a lot of hiking and outdoor activities and the bag fit perfectly under the table benches.
- Drop off: When I said that pick up couldn't have been easier…drop off decided to kick it up a notch for ease. I pulled into the lot and unpacked my gear and tossed out my trash. I had some left over food and booze, so I left it in the fridge in the lobby of the rental shop for the next campers to take with them. The rest was simply the manager coming out, checking the tank and mileage and then taking pictures. That was it. I was able to keep my van pretty clean on the trip despite my desert dwellings I was playing in, so it wasn't hard to clean out. Whole process took me about 20 mins.