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Birding Around Mesquite Spring
Birding Around Las Vegas, Death Valley National Park
Birding Around Mesquite Spring
Death Valley National Park, Mesquite Spring
It's not much, but this is water in the desert (view south).

Description

With few exceptions, the overwhelming impression one gets from Death Valley is that it is an extremely hot and dry land that is unencumbered by the burden of dirt and vegetation. To most birds, the entire area probably looks barren. Mesquite Spring, a cluster of seeps and a spring under a thicket of mesquite and cottonwood trees, is one of those exceptions.

Mesquite Spring is located in the remote and scenic far northern end of Death Valley. The spring itself sits in the bottom of the valley, between some little hills and Death Valley Wash. The main spring area is overgrown with a thicket of Screwbean mesquite, western honey mesquite, two big cottonwood trees and a small one, and there are rushes and rabbitbrush around the spring and the outflow. Just below the thicket, the vegetation opens up into relatively lush Mojave Desert vegetation, visually dominated by creosote bush and saltbush. There is a saltgrass meadow with a couple of little seeps to the west of the main spring.

Birding Death Valley National Park, Mesquite Spring
The main thicket around the spring as seen from the campground entrance (view north).

The Mesquite Spring Campground is located between the spring and the bottom of the wash. This is a pretty area to camp and look for birds and other wildlife that are attracted to the water and vegetation.

Location

Mesquite Spring is located in the far northern end of Death Valley National Park, about 55 miles north of Furnace Creek.

Birding Death Valley National Park, Mesquite Spring

From Las Vegas, drive northwest for about 2.5 hours to the Furnace Creek Visitor Center (Table 1, Site 712) in Death Valley National Park. From the Visitor Center, drive north on Highway 190 for 17 miles to Scotty's Castle Road (Site 763). Turn right onto Scotty's Castle Road and drive north for 33 miles to the Mesquite Spring Campground access road (Site 903). The campground access road is 0.6 miles before the Grapevine Ranger Station and about 5 miles before Scotty's Castle. Turn left onto the campground access road and drive southwest for 1.8 miles to Mesquite Spring (Site 562), which is located at the entrance to the campground.

Hours

The park and the campground are always open, but Mesquite Spring should be considered day-use only.

Fees

After getting into the park, there are no additional entrance fees. If you spend the night, additional campground fees apply.

Birding Death Valley National Park, Mesquite Spring
The saltgrass meadow is just below the spring and adjacent to the campground (view north).

Specialties

Mesquite Spring is good for finding migrants and desert species, with an emphasis on desert species, but the species mix depends on the season, and what you see during migration depends on who is moving through at the time. Review the park bird list for the time of year that you plan to visit. Keep an eye out for the resident Common Roadrunners, and in the evening watch for bats (including Pallid Bats with 18-inch wingspans), desert cottontail, black-tailed jackrabbit, Ord's kangaroo rat, and Merriam's kangaroo rat.
Mesquite Spring
Mesquite Spring during winter
Mesquite Spring
Mesquite Spring during winter
Mesquite Spring Mesquite Spring
Mesquite Spring 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
562 Mesquite Spring 36.9625 117.3676 467278 4090573 5905 Yes
712 Furnace Creek Visitor Center 36.4616 116.8657 512030 4034954 -185 Yes
763 Hwy 190 at Scotty's Castle Rd 36.6391 117.0353 496843 4054636 104 Yes
903 Scotty's Castle Rd at Mesquite Campground Rd 36.9900 117.3623 467755 4093621 2175 Yes

Happy birding! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 130228

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