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Birding Around Deer Creek Picnic Area
Birding Around Las Vegas, Mount Charleston Area
deer creek
Deer Creek
Signs by rest rooms at parking area


Deer Creek Picnic Area lies in a deep, narrow canyon in the Pine-Fir Forest with an ephemeral pond and a small, perennial creek. Because of the water, birds from all over the area come to drink and bathe, making this is a good place to bird in an arid western forest. Birding is more difficult here on noisy weekend afternoons.

There is no parking in the picnic area; rather, parking is in a big parking area along the highway (Deer Creek Road) a few yards north and across the road from the picnic area.

Deer Creek
Start of trail (view S from parking area)


Deer Creek cuts a rocky, narrow canyon down the steep flanks of Mummy Mountain. When Deer Creek Road was constructed, they put in a culvert and filled the canyon with dirt. The culvert is now plugged, and the roadway acts as a dam that backs up a small pond. The culvert leaks, so the pond is ephemeral, but when it has water, this is an extraordinary place to watch birds in these mountains.

The trail into the picnic area parallels the road out to the pond, then turns up an old road (now a paved trail) along the stream. Enormous ponderosa pines and white fir, plus willows, shrubs, and mountain wild flowers provide cover for birds and Mount Charleston Chipmunks as they come to drink and bathe. Birders can work the area by walking up the old road and stopping at picnic tables to sit and let the birds get used to your presence; they will come back for water.

Deer Creek
Parking area (view N from trail)


Deer Creek is located up in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area (generally referred to as Mt. Charleston) on Deer Creek Road between Kyle and Lee Canyons, about 1 hour northwest of Las Vegas. From town, drive out to the Deer Creek Trailhead.

Cross the road carefully (listen for vehicles careening around the curve), walk south into the Picnic Area, and bird all the way to the top of the paved trail (old picnic area road). Birders may continue past the pavement on dirt roads, but the best birding is along the water.

Deer Creek
Paved trail along stream (view W)


Always open, but consider it day-use only.



Deer Creek
Streamside vegetation


Deer Creek is good for finding a variety of woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, warblers, thrushes, and jays.

Species I've seen here: Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Violet-green Swallow, Mountain Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Western Tanager, Chipping Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Black-headed Grosbeak, Purple Finch, Cassin's Finch, and Townsend's Solitaire. ... and this probably isn't all of them!

Also watch for: Mt. Charleston Chipmunk and Western Fence Lizard.

Birding Deer Creek
Deer Creek parking area
Birding Deer Creek
Deer Creek parking area and sign
Birding Deer Creek
Deer Creek signs and restrooms
Birding Deer Creek
Deer Creek sign and information kiosk
Birding Deer Creek
Logs and rocks in the stream provide pools where birds bathe
Birding Deer Creek
Hermit Thrush on log along stream
Deer Creek Deer Creek
Deer Creek Deer Creek
Deer Creek Deer Creek
Birding Deer Creek
Red Rock Audubon birders
More to come
More to come ...

Table 1. GPS Coordinates for Highway Locations (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Highway GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Site # Location Latitude (°N) Longitude (°W) UTM Easting UTM Northing Elevation (feet) Verified
1039 Deer Creek Parking Area 36.3143 115.6205 623838 4019495 8,307 Map

Happy birding! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 170904

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