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Desert National Wildlife Refuge

Desert NWR Refuge Overview: Established in 1936, Desert National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 1.6 millions acres of the northeast corner of the Mojave Desert and was established to protect Bighorn Sheep. Desert is the largest National Wildlife Refuge in the continental United States. The Refuge boasts a diverse landscape due to a great variety in elevation among the land. In 1975 approximately 80% of the Refuge was designated wilderness.

Wildlife and Habitat: Desert NWR is made up mostly of desert shrub, but also of woodland and coniferous forests and some pseudo-alpine habitat. There are six major mountain ranges on the Refuge with elevations between 2,400 feet and 10,000 feet. Desert NWR supports over 500 plant species and 240 bird species.

Desert is home to one of the largest blocks of bighorn sheep. The Refuge also supports the threatened Desert tortoise and the bald eagle. Refuge management strategies seek to assist the Pahrump poolfish that live in refuge waters. Currently, Pahrump poolfish are considered an endangered species.

Recreation Opportunities: Desert NWR offers a variety of recreational opportunities for people of all ages. The most active visitors will certainly enjoy camping, hiking, backpacking and horseback riding at Desert. Bird and animal watching are also quite enjoyable. The best times to view animals are in the early morning and evening hours. There are limited opportunities to hunt bighorn sheep on Desert property. Visit the Refuge’s homepage for more information on hunting guidelines and regulations.

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