Visit Us

Pahranagat NWR allows visitors to get in close proximity to wildlife. During spring and fall migrations, thousands of waterfowl blanket the lakes and marshes in a noisy, honking commotion. The water of the streams and lakes allows cottonwood and willow trees to grow. The trees provide ideal habitat for migratory songbirds. Over 260 species of birds have been reported on the refuge, including the critically endangered southwestern willow flycatcher.  

A great way to start your visit at Pahranagat NWR is by checking out the Visitor Center. Here visitors can watch a short film about the Refuge, enjoy several interactive exhibits, and learn about the local flora and fauna from refuge staff and volunteers. Visitors can also gain more information about how to spend their time while visiting the Refuge and the surrounding area from our knowledgeable staff and volunteers. Visitor Center hours change with the seasons so make sure to check before visiting! Please note: the Visitor Center hours will be changing to summer hours after Monday, May 27th 2024. The Visitor Center will be open Friday to Sunday, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, and closed Monday to Thursday. This change will last until fall 2024.

If you're interested in exploring the refuge on foot, Pahranagat offers approximately 7 miles of hiking trails. Some trails are accessible from the visitor center and contain interactive and informational nature exhibits along the way, while others may be accessed from a number of different parking lots found throughout the refuge.  

Hunting and fishing are permitted on the refuge during the prescribed season. Make sure to check the Rules and Regulations page for more information. 

For those interested in experiencing this desert oasis at night, free camping is available at the Upper Lake. For more information, please read about visitor activities.   

You can also journey through the backcountry between Pahranagat and Desert National Wildlife Refuge on Alamo Road. This route requires a high clearance vehicle, is not regularly maintained, and has no gas or other services available along the route. 

Know Before You Go... 

Remember Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge is located in desert and only receives 6.4 inches of rain each year. It is cold in the winter and extremely hot during the summer months. It is also pretty dry year round. Fall and spring are more comfortable temperature wise, but make sure you dress appropriately for the season and bring layers! It can be cold before the sun comes up and after the sun has set. Make sure you bring plenty of water, or a refillable container that you can refill at the Visitor Center, as well as snacks for your visit. Sunscreen is a must and insect repellant is recommended. Most of our trails are packed gravel or dirt so comfortable walking shoes are recommended. It’s also a good idea to bring a camera to document the beauty Pahranagat as to offer as well as your binoculars so that you don’t miss out on the abundant wildlife that’s here!  

Tips to Help Plan Your Visit

Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to visit throughout the year. Wildlife is abundant and the landscape is beautiful, but here are a few tips to help maximize your visit to the refuge.  

  • Fall and spring migration is the best time to see wildlife, especially different species of birds as most just use this as a stopover location along their migration route. This is also the most comfortable time to visit weather wise.  

  • Early morning and the evening are the best time to see wildlife. 

  • The Visitor Center has changing hours with the season. From September – May, it is open Thursday – Monday 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM and closed Tuesday and Wednesday, and from June – August, it is open Friday – Sunday 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM and closed Monday – Thursday. Other visitor facilities, such as trails and restrooms, are open everyday. 

  • The campground is free and open year-round. Sites are first-come, first-serve and may fill up quickly starting on Friday for the weekends during fall, spring, and winter. Make sure to plan ahead if you want a spot!  

  • If you are visiting during the summer months, keep an eye on the weather, as it can reach extremely high temperatures in the desert during the day. Visit in the early morning, drink plenty of water, use sunscreen, wear a hat, never leave pets or children in the car, and limit time outside to avoid heat related problems. 

  • Like most places, weekdays (Monday-Thursday) are less busy than weekends (Friday – Sunday), but feel free to visit whenever you are able!  

  • We have plenty of guided ranger hikes for you to enjoy and learn about the Refuge.  

  • We do not have equipment such as binoculars or fishing poles available to rent except during special programs where the equipment may be provided. 

  • You can report your wildlife sightings to staff and volunteers at the Visitor Center and write it in our wildlife journal so that other visitors know what species can be seen here.  

  • There are plenty of kiosks with a variety of brochures and trail maps found throughout the Refuge to help you get the information you need. We even have some self-guided interpretation signs along some of our trails to enhance your experience.  

 

Local Amenities

GAS UP! There is a gas station in the town of Alamo NV which is 8 miles from the refuge, otherwise the closest gas stations are 40 or more miles away in all directions. 

Accommodations and Eateries - The refuge is day-use only with camping is permitted only at the 15 designated campsites located along Upper Pahranagat Lake. There are also 2 hotels located in the town of Alamo, but there are no restaurants in the area.

More Amenities are available in the town of Caliente, 40 miles north east of the refuge or in the city of Las Vegas, 75 miles south of the refuge with a variety of accommodations, restaurants, shopping, auto repair and more. 

Refuge Restrooms and Amenities 

Restrooms are available at the visitor center on the North side of building, just after the parking lot, as you make your way towards the main entrance of the visitor center on the East side of the building. Vault toilets (no flush) are also available at the campground and near the Upper Lake day use & picnic area (located just before the campground).  

There is a refillable water bottle station outside of the visitor center. 

Activities

If you have 15-minutes...

  • Stop in to our Visitor Center and learn all about the Refuge! You can watch a short film about the Refuge, enjoy several interactive exhibits, and learn about the local flora and fauna from refuge staff and volunteers. 

  • Take a short walk on the Cabin Trail or the Pahranagat Loop Trail. 

  • Observe wildlife at Upper Pahranagat Lake any day of the year or at Middle Marsh and Lower Lake throughout the year and on non-hunt days during hunt season. Wildlife may be visible throughout the day, but the best times to see wildlife are early morning and late evening.  

If you have one hour...

  • Stop in to our Visitor Center and learn all about the refuge! You can watch a short film about the Refuge, enjoy several interactive exhibits, and learn about the local flora and fauna from refuge staff and volunteers. 

  • Take a short walk on the Cabin Trail or the Pahranagat Loop Trail. 

  • Visit Upper Pahranagat Lake and search for some wildlife or go fishing.  

  • Visit Upper Pahranagat Lake via the Waterway Trail.  

  • Hike the Upper Pahranagat Lake Trail. 

  • Hike the Davenport Trail to Upper Pahranagat Lake and experience the many different habitats here at Pahranagat. 

  • Observe wildlife at Upper Pahranagat Lake any day of the year or at Middle Marsh and Lower Lake throughout the year and on non-hunt days during hunt season. Wildlife may be visible throughout the day, but the best times to see wildlife are early morning and late evening.  

  • Have a picnic at the Upper Pahranagat Lake day use and picnic area. 

  

If you have half a day or more...

  • Stop in to our Visitor Center and learn all about the Refuge! You can watch a short film about the Refuge, enjoy several interactive exhibits, and learn about the local flora and fauna from refuge staff and volunteers. 

  • Go on a Guided Ranger Hike. 

  • Take a short walk on the Cabin Trail or the Pahranagat Loop Trail.

  • Visit Upper Pahranagat Lake via the Waterway Trail. 

  • Hike the Upper Pahranagat Lake Trail. 

  • Hike the Davenport Trail to Upper Pahranagat Lake and experience the many different habitats here at Pahranagat. See the Trails page for more information. 

  • Hike along any of access roads and connect to the trails to explore parts of or the entire Refuge. 

  • Observe wildlife at Upper Pahranagat Lake any day of the year or at Middle Marsh and Lower Lake throughout the year and on non-hunt days during hunt season. Wildlife may be visible throughout the day, but the best times to see wildlife are early morning and late evening.  

  • Bike along any of the bike-friendly trails and access roads. 

  • Have a picnic at the Upper Pahranagat Lake day use and picnic area. 

  • Use a non-motorized boat or boat with electric motors on Upper Lake from February 1 – September 30. 

  • Fish at one of the designated areas throughout the Refuge. 

  • During hunting season hunt in the designated hunt-area on designated hunt days at the Refuge. 

  • Spend the night under the stars by camping along Upper Pahranagat Lake.

Trails

Pedestrian Only Trails (hiking/walking and pets on a leash) 
Davenport Trail  
  • Open Season: Open year-round

  • Length: 1.7 miles one way 

  • Location of trail: Trail leaves from the Visitor Center parking lot and connects to the Upper Lake Trail.

  • Surface:  Packed gravel/dirt 

  • Difficulty: Moderately challenging  

  • Information: On this moderately challenging 1.7-mile trail that leaves from the Visitor Center parking lot you will climb to an upland desert that offers spectacular views of Upper Pahranagat Lake. You will then descend towards the lake and connect with the Upper Lake Trail.  

Pahranagat Loop 
  • Open Season: Open year-round 

  • Length:  0.4-mile loop 

  • Location of trail: Trailhead can be found just behind the Visitor Center.  

  • Surface: Packed gravel, ADA accessible  

  • Difficulty: Easy  

  • Information: This loop trail begins outside the main Entrance to the Visitor Center just over the bridge. Along the trail you’ll find interactive interpretative signs about the local flora and fauna. Throughout the trail you will see Cottonwood and Willow trees as well as other native flora which is some of the best songbird habitat on the refuge. Take a moment to stop and sit quietly to see how many songbirds you can hear.

Cabin Trail 
  • Open Season: Open year-round 

  • Length: 0.4 miles one way, 0.8 miles round trip  

  • Location of trail: Trailhead can be found just behind the Visitor Center. 

  • Surface: Packed gravel, ADA accessible  

  • Difficulty: Easy  

  • Information: This trail begins outside the Main Entrance to the Visitor Center just over the bridge and concludes at two historic cabins built by early settlers in the Pahranagat Valley. Make sure to stop and read the interpretative signs by each cabin! 

Pedestrian and Bike-Friendly Trails (hiking/walking, pets on a leash, and biking) 
Upper Lake Trail 
  • Open Season: Open year-round 

  • Length: 1.4 miles as marked, or travel along the campground road to make it a 3-mile loop  

  • Location of trail: Trailhead can be found at the Pahranagat Upper Lake Day Use Area. Enter via vehicle at the Upper Pahranagat Lake Entrance off Hwy 93. Travel down the gravel road towards the campground where you will find a small parking lot and the day use area.  

  • Surface: Packed gravel/dirt  

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Information: This trail provides an excellent opportunity to see waterfowl and other migratory birds throughout the year, including Bald Eagles in the winter. Along the trail you will experience riparian riparian
    Definition of riparian habitat or riparian areas.

    Learn more about riparian
    habitat on one side of the trail and desert upland on the other, making it a unique trail to travel. You will have the opportunity to stop at two different overlooks where you can sit and enjoy the native flora and fauna. Make sure you check out the interactive interpretative signs found along the trails. Bring your binoculars to observe wildlife from a safe distance and remember early morning and evening are the best times to see wildlife.  

Waterway Trail 
  • Open Season: Open year-round 

  • Length: 0.8 miles one way, 1.6 round trip  

  • Location of trail: Trailhead is 0.4 miles from the Visitor Center parking lot and is marked by a yellow gate. This trail connects you to the campground road/Upper Lake Trail.  

  • Surface: Packed gravel  

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Information: This easy trail follows the foliage lined water supply ditch which provides excellent coverage for birds. Make sure to take your time and keep an eye out for wildlife! This trail will connect you from the Visitor Center parking lot to the campground road and the Upper Lake Trail.

Walkable Access Routes (hiking/walking and pets on a leash) 
Cottonwood Springs 
  • Open Season: Open year-round, however this trail is located in the seasonal hunting area and active hunters can be found here Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays during hunt season. 

  • Length: 2.2 miles round trip 

  • Location of trail: Trailhead can be found at the junction for Alamo Road and is marked by a metal gate.  

  • Surface: Rough and unmaintained that is occasionally soft/muddy 

  • Difficulty: Moderate  

  • Information: This trail is not for the faint of heart as it cuts through some of the most secluded parts of the refuge offering great solitude. It offers a changing landscape from upland desert to marsh land. Be careful as sometimes the trail is soft or muddy.  

Dove Dike 
  • Open Season: Open year-round, however this trail is in the seasonal hunting area and active hunters can be found here Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays during hunt season.  

  • Length: 0.7 miles one way, 1.4 round trip  

  • Location of trail: Trailhead can be found along the Middle Marsh gravel road (off of HWY 93) near Lower Pahranagat Lake. It is the first parking lot that you see along the road.  

  • Surface: Packed gravel/dirt  

  • Difficulty: Easy  

  • Information: This trail crosses the upper part of Middle Marsh. Dense stands of showy milkweed make this a great spot to look for monarch butterflies in the summer and tall wild sunflowers fill the meadow with color during the fall. Remember that this trail is located in the seasonal hunting area so active hunters can be found here on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays during hunt season.  

WHIN Dike 
  • Open Season: Open year-round, however this trail is in the seasonal hunting area and active hunters can be found here Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays during hunt season. 

  • Length: 0.7 miles one way, 1.4 miles round trip 

  • Location of trail: Trailhead can be found along the Middle Marsh gravel road (off of HWY 93) near Lower Pahranagat Lake. It is the second parking lot that you see along the road. 

  • Surface: Packed gravel/dirt 

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Information: WHIN short for Wildlife Habitat Improvement of Nevada this trail is an excellent place to observe shorebirds that love the Middle Marsh here at the Refuge. Remember that this trail is located in the seasonal hunting area so active hunters can be found here on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays during hunt season. 

Middle Marsh Dike 
  • Open Season: Open year-round, however this trail is in the seasonal hunting area and active hunters can be found here Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays during hunt season. 

  • Length: 0.2 miles one way, 0.4 miles round trip  

  • Location of trail: Trailhead can be found along the Middle Marsh gravel road (off of HWY 93) near Lower Pahranagat Lake. It is the third parking lot located at the end of the road. 

  • Surface: Packed gravel/dirt  

  • Difficulty: Easy 

  • Information: This trail crosses the lower part of Middle Marsh. Many species of wildlife can be seen here enjoying the shallow water and tall willow trees that grow along the dike. Remember that this trail is located in the seasonal hunting area so active hunters can be found here on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays during hunt season. 

Backcountry Roads (4WD/high clearance vehicles, hiking/walking, and biking) 
Medsger Pass  
  • Open Season: Open year-round 

  • Length: 22 miles one way, 44 miles round trip 

  • Location of trail: Located off of HWY 93 about 3 miles before the Entrance to Upper Pahranagat Lake.  

  • Surface: Unmaintained backcountry gravel and dirt road  

  • Difficulty: Difficult, high clearance/4WD required for vehicles 

  • Information: After 22 miles of rough road this road leads to the base of Tikaboo peak, which is the closest legally accessible vantage point to Area 51. There are no services along this road and there is limited cell phone reception. A high clearance/4WD vehicle is required. Make sure to bring extra water and emergency supplies.  

Alamo Road  
  • Open Season: Open year-round 

  • Length: 72 miles to the Corn Creek Field Station at Desert National Wildlife Refuge  

  • Location of trail: Located off of the Visitor Center parking lot 

  • Surface: Unmaintained backcountry gravel and dirt road  

  • Difficulty: Difficult, high clearance/4WD required for vehicles 

  • Information: After 72 miles of rough road, you will reach the Corn Creek Field Station at Desert National Wildlife Refuge. There are no services along this road and there is limited cell phone reception. A high clearance/4WD vehicles is required. Bring extra water and emergency supplies.  

 

 

Other Facilities in the Complex

Pahranagat National Refuge is part of Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex consist of four Wildlife Refuges: Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Moapa National Wildlife Refuge, Desert National Wildlife Refuge, and Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge. 

Locations

Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge
Highway 93 North, Milepost 32Alamo,NV89001
Driving Directions

From Las Vegas Nevada: Travel north on I-15 for 26 miles.  Take exit 64 for US-93 (Great Basin Hwy).  Continue north for 64 miles.  

From Great Basin National Park in Nevada:  Take US-50 west for 30 miles.  Turn left onto US-93 south for 169 miles.  Pass through the towns of Pioche, Caliente, and Alamo. 

From Saint George Utah: Travel south on I-15 for 68 miles.  Take exit 91.  Turn left onto Glendale Blvd for 0.5 miles.  Turn right onto Hwy 168 and continue for 24 miles. Turn right onto US-93 and travel north for 33 miles. 

Hours
Visitor Center Hours
Winter Hours (September - May)
Thursday - Monday 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM, Closed Tuesday and Wednesday, Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day
Summer Hours (June - August)
Friday - Sunday 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM, Closed Monday - Wednesday
Campground Hours
7 days/week, 24 hours/day, 365 days/year
All sites are free and first come first serve (see the campground tab for more information)
Trail Hours
Year-round
Sunrise - Sunset (see the trails tab for more information)