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Birding Around Crystal Spring
Birding Around Las Vegas, Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge
Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Crystal Spring
Crystal Spring
Crystal Spring Boardwalk trailhead (view E)

Description

Crystal Spring is a clear, warm-water spring with a 25-foot-diameter spring pool and an outflow stream that runs through a fairly open, fairly flat country. The spring is surrounded by a few trees, lots of shrubs, and grapevines. The outflow stream runs along the boardwalk and through an open area with scattered screwbean mesquite thickets, various species of desert shrub, and a carpet of saltgrass. Bare areas are covered with a crust of salt, which almost looks like a blanket of snow.

The Crystal Spring boardwalk leads for about 0.3 miles from the refuge office to the spring. Please protect the vegetation and stay on the boardwalk while watching birds and dragonflies.

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Crystal Spring
The Crystal Spring Boardwalk trail runs through nice screwbean mesquite thickets (view east)

Location

Crystal Spring is located on the Ash Meadows National Wildlife, about 2 hours northwest of Las Vegas and about 0.3 miles east of the Refuge Office.

From Las Vegas, drive out to the Refuge Office (Table 1, Site 691). From the Refuge Office, a boardwalk starts on the east end of the parking area at an information kiosk. The boardwalk runs east for about 0.3 miles to Crystal Spring (Site 693). The boardwalk has two short spurs, but it is not a loop.

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Crystal Spring
Farther out the Crystal Spring Boardwalk, the trail runs through open areas along the creek (view east)

Hours

The refuge is day-use only: open sunrise to sunset.

Fees

None.

Crystal Spring
End of the boardwalk

Specialties

The Crystal Spring boardwalk runs along a stream and through mostly open country with Screwbean mesquite trees, cattails, bulrushes, and saltgrass. The open areas are good for finding flycatchers (e.g., Say's Phoebe and Western Kingbird), Northern Mockingbirds, Verdins, Crissal Thrashers, and Loggerhead Shrikes. The marshy areas along the stream and at the spring pool are good for Marsh Wrens, sparrows, blackbirds, warblers, and similar upland species. Be sure to watch the sky for swallows and soaring birds.

Crystal Spring
Crystal Spring

The Crystal Spring area also is good for finding migrant species, but the species mix depends on the season, and during migration it depends on just who is moving through at the time. Review the refuge bird list for some ideas on what to expect during your visit.

Be sure to watch the water for the small Ash Meadows Amargosa pupfish., although there are also Sailfin Mollies (non-native aquarium fish) in the outflow stream.

Crystal Spring
Crystal Springs Boardwalk during summer (August)
Crystal Spring
Boardwalk during summer (August)
Crystal Spring Crystal Spring
Crystal Spring
Surveying for dragonflies with USFWS permits
Crystal Spring
Surveying for dragonflies with USFWS permits
Crystal Spring
Surveying for dragonflies with USFWS permits
Crystal Spring
Red Saddlebags (Tramea onusta)
Crystal Spring
Western Pondhawk (Erythemis collocata)
Crystal Spring
Western Pondhawk (Erythemis collocata)
Crystal Spring
Crystal Springs Boardwalk during winter (November)
Crystal Spring
Crystal Springs Boardwalk during winter (November)
Crystal Spring Crystal Spring
Crystal Spring Crystal Spring
Crystal Spring Crystal Spring
Crystal Spring Crystal Spring
Crystal Spring Crystal Spring

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
691 Ash Meadows Refuge Headquarters 36.4220 116.3280 560243 4030764 2,188 Yes
693 Ash Meadows, Crystal Spring 36.4202 116.3229 560703 4030565 2,195 Yes

Happy birding! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
© 2014 Jim Boone; Last updated 120820

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