Desert National Wildlife Refuge is the largest wildlife refuge outside of Alaska and protects the largest intact habitat for the Desert Bighorn Sheep in the Mojave desert.
Attention: Changes to Entry to Desert National Wildlife Refuge

The schedule for public entry to the Desert National Wildlife Refuge has changed to protect wildlife, improve visitor experiences, ensure the safety of staff and visitors, and increase security of facilities. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service implemented the change incrementally to enable visitors to adjust.

Visitors may enter the refuge between 4:00 a.m. and sunset. An automatic access gate was installed on Corn Creek Road in January 2023, and is now fully operational. The gate opens at approximately 4:00 a.m. and closes at sunset. Visitors can exit the refuge after sunset by slowly pulling up to the gate to activate the sensor and open the gate. The refuge remains open for backcountry camping; however visitors must enter the refuge between 4:00 a.m. and sunset. If those who are camping on the refuge leave and cannot return prior to sunset, they will be able to reenter the refuge at 4:00 the next morning. Emergency services are able to enter the refuge 24 hours a day.

We appreciate the public's patience with these changes. Questions and/or concerns may be directed to the Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex Manager at 702-515-5451 or via email to


Visit Us

Visitor Center

Thursday - Monday
8:00 am - 4:00 pm
Closed Tuesday and Wednesday

The trails and restrooms at the Visitor Center are open every day from sunrise to sunset.

The refuge backcountry roads are accessible 24 hours a day. Please check the current road conditions before setting out.

Location and Contact Information

      Know Before You Go

      Both Mormon Well Road and Alamo Road have recently been graded up to Sawmill Canyon, and Hidden Forest Road, respectively. Please be extra cautious when traveling any spur roads, as there may be unreported washouts, loose soils, or sharp rock.

      Use of 4WD, high-clearance vehicles with good tires is always advised when traveling the backcountry at Desert NWR. As always, please see the Current Conditions page for the latest information on refuge roads. We appreciate your understanding. 

      About Us

      Straddling the Mojave and Great Basin Deserts, the Desert National Wildlife Refuge protects a wide variety of ecosystems across a diverse landscape. The refuge was established in 1936 in order to provide habitat for the desert bighorn sheep and other desert wildlife. Today, it is the largest wildlife refuge outside of Alaska. All told, it protects hundreds of different species of plants & animals across seven different life zones.


      To schedule a program, tour, or field trip of Desert National Wildlife Refuge, contact Jennifer Heroux at 702-515-5453, or via email at

      What We Do

      Every national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
      A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

      Learn more about national wildlife refuge
      was created for a special purpose. Some were created to protect migratory birds, others to protect threatened or endangered species or unique habitats, while others fulfill another special purpose. Desert National Wildlife Refuge was established to protect the Desert Bighorn Sheep and other desert wildlife. All activities allowed on the refuge must be evaluated to make sure each activity will not conflict with the reason the refuge was founded.

      2022 Junior Duck Stamp Traveling Artwork Exhibit

      Do you want to showcase some of the nation’s premier artwork? Would you like to celebrate art, conservation, and the outdoors?  Are you looking for a centerpiece or side exhibit for your special event, museum, art gallery, or exhibition? Each year the top placing artwork from the...

      A pair of redheads floating 2022-2023 Duck Stamp by Jim Hautman

      Do you want to be part of one of this country's oldest and most successful conservation efforts? Do you want to connect with your community and help facilitate outdoor recreation and support youth conservation education programs?

      Selling Federal Duck Stamps and Junior Duck Stamps at...

      Our Organization

      The mission of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is "working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people."

      A bright blue sky obstructed by fluffy white clouds reflected off of a stream shot from inside a kayak
      The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages an unparalleled network of public lands and waters called the National Wildlife Refuge System. With more than 560 refuges spanning the country, this system protects iconic species and provides some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities on Earth.
      A bison grazing in the foreground with mountains and a city and electrical infrastructure in the background
      The Urban Wildlife Conservation Program improves lives by expanding access to green space, education and outdoor recreation for Americans living in and around cities. Program members work to clear social and historical barriers and foster new connections that advance conservation and strengthen...

      Our Species

      Although Desert NWR was established to protect the desert bighorn sheep, countless other species have benefited from these protections. Today, the refuge is home to over 500 species of plant, over 320 species of birds, 52 species of mammals, 32 species of reptiles, and so much more.

      two male desert bighorn sheep run down a rocky slope, their curving horns glowing in the afternoon sunlight

      A medium-size bovid. Muscular body, with thick neck. Color varies from dark brown above in northern mountains to pale tan in desert; belly, rump patch, back of legs, muzzle, and eye patch are white. Short, dark brown tail. Coat sheds in patches June - July. Ram has massive brown horns that curve...

      FWS Focus
      Desert Tortoise walking in the desert

      The Mojave desert tortoise is a large, herbivorous (plant-eating) reptile that occurs in the Mojave Desert north and west of the Colorado River in southwestern Utah, southern Nevada, southeastern California, and northwestern Arizona in the United States. The desert tortoise is one of most...

      FWS Focus

      Our Library

      Be sure to check out all of the past stories and news from the refuge!

      Bristlecone pine above treeline
      This 17-minute video is the perfect introduction to Desert NWR.
      Hedgehog Cactus blooming with mountains in distance
      Visit the refuge virtually, courtesy of PBS!

      Get Involved

      Whether you want to further conservation, learn more about nature or share your love of the outdoors, you’ve come to the right place. National wildlife refuges provide many opportunities for you to help your community by doing what you love. National wildlife refuges partner with volunteers, youth groups, landowners, neighbors and residents of urban communities to make a lasting difference. Find out how you can help make American lands healthier and communities stronger while doing something personally satisfying.

      Projects and Research

      At Desert NWR, there are a variety of opportunities for projects and research, including citizen science. A special use permit is required for most activities.