Encompassing six major mountain ranges and seven distinct life zones, Desert NWR showcases the abundance and variety of nature that can be found in Southern Nevada, all just a short drive from Las Vegas.
Created in 1936 to provide habitat and protection for desert bighorn sheep, Desert NWR is the largest wildlife refuge outside of Alaska. At 1.6 million acres (643,000 hectares), the refuge can cover Rhode Island twice - and still have enough room left over for a quarter of a million football fields. Teeming with diversity over a vast landscape, Desert NWR boasts over 500 plant species as it transitions from the Mojave to the Great Basin Desert.
While Desert NWR has been home to people for thousands of years, from Nuwuvi (Southern Paiute) to ranch homesteaders, the refuge still remains largely unchanged by human hands. Over 1.3 million acres (536,000 hectares) of the refuge is proposed wilderness, and has been managed as de facto wilderness since 1974. See collared lizards sunning on rocks, hunt for tracks of elusive mountain lions, or grab your binoculars for a better look at our 320 bird species. A unique and solitary experience awaits you at Desert NWR.