Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex

The Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex consists of four related areas within two hours of LV. The Moapa Valley NWR is not currently open to the public. You can see information about the other three below.

Hedgehog Cactus - Corn Creek Field Station

Cathedral Gorge State Park

Cathedral Gorge features eroded hills full of cave-like branching slots. Fun to explore; rewarding to try to photograph from inside. This Nevada state park has a pleasant campground with amenities that include hot showers. About 2.7 hours from Las Vegas.

Cathedral George State Park, NV
Cathedral Gorge

Arizona Hot Springs

The mouth of Arizona Hot Springs canyon is a short but obscure hike southward along the Colorado River from the mouth of White Rock Canyon. (Boaters have a sandy beach right at the mouth of the Springs canyon.) The hike up canyon is also short, but more physically challenging. You'll get wetter, but warmer, as you proceed to the hot pools.

Water chute in Arizona Hot Springs canyon, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Arizona  Waterfall ladder in Arizona Hot Springs canyon, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Arizona  Hot pools in Arizona Hot Springs canyon, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Arizona
Arizona Hot Springs: Scramble the Chute, Climb the Ladder, Soak the Pools

Mojave National Preserve

Mojave National Preserve, about 1.5 hours southwest of LV, features a rich variety of desert environments. Paved and bladed roads make much of the hiking, camping, sightseeing, and wildlife accessible without an SUV. At this time of year, I found the desert in bloom, the Joshua trees in flower, and the desert tortoises active.

Kelso Dunes, Mojave National Preserve, California
Kelso Dunes

Desert National Wildlife Refuge

Desert National Wildlife Refuge is located in the Mojave north of LV, with three 4WD access points off Highways 93 and 95. Visitors are on their own and should be well researched and equipped for the backcountry. This year's forays were scouting trips for future expeditions.

Burnt Yucca Forest, Mormon Well Road, Desert National Wildlife Refuge, Nevada
Recovering Yucca Forest - Mormon Well Road

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is <1 hr. outside of Las Vegas. It features a scenic loop drive and hikes of various lengths and challenges.

Icebox Canyon, Red Rock Canyon NCA, Nevada
View Coming Out of Icebox Canyon

Valley of Fire

Valley of Fire State Park is ~1 hr. outside of LV, with scenic drives and short hikes featuring unique scenery and native American petroglyphs. Popular Hollywood 'alien planet' landscape. Spectacular at sunrise/sunset.

White Domes Area, Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
White Domes Area

Ash Meadows

2+ hours outside of LV, on the way to Death Valley, is the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. Springs fueled by the underground Amargosa River create oases and provide habitat for endangered species of desert pupfish. The lush vegetation and tropical-colored fish are a striking contrast to the surrounding alkaline uplands of the Mojave desert.

Point of Rocks Spring in Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Nevada
Point of Rocks Spring

Death Valley

Death Valley National Park has a severe and subtle beauty that takes at least a couple of days to appreciate. Go during the cooler weather when you can hike around. It was already too hot in late April this year, although spring temperatures can vary widely year-to-year. ~3 hours from LV.

Mesquite Dunes near Stovepipe Wells

Zion National Park

Zion's spectacular geography delivers drives, hiking, and camping of all varieties and challenges. ~3 hrs. out of LV on a drive that crosses the desert and ascends up onto the Colorado plateau via the Virgin River Canyon.

Zion Narrows in Zion National Park, Utah
Heading Into Zion Narrows

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