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.

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

      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.

      Tours

      To schedule a program, tour, or field trip of Desert National Wildlife Refuge, contact Josh Contois at 702-817-3936, or via email at joshua_contois@fws.gov.

      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.

      Our Organization

      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.
      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.

      Nelson's bighorn sheep
      Nelson bighorn sheep
      Peninsular bighorn sheep
      desert bighorn sheep
      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 up...
      FWS Focus
      Desert Tortoise
      Mohave Desert Tortoise
      Agassiz's Desert Tortoise
      Mojave Desert Tortoise

      The Mojave desert tortoise is a large, herbivorous (plant-eating) reptile that occurs in the Mojave and Sonoran deserts 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...

      FWS Focus
      Joshua tree
      FWS Focus
      Golden Eagle
      FWS Focus
      American Badger
      badger
      FWS Focus
      Sidewinder
      FWS Focus

      Our Library

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

      This 17-minute video is the perfect introduction to Desert NWR.
      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.