Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge - Summary Page

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This page last updated on 06/30/2019
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MAP-Pahranagat Refuge-2
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Directions: From Las Vegas, take I-15 north towards Salt Lake City. Travel about 22 miles and turn left onto US-93. Follow US-93 north for about 70 miles. Follow signs to refuge headquarters; the turn will be on your left.
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Area Description: Located at the southern end of the Pahranagat Valley just 90-miles north of Las Vegas, this lush (Fig. 03) 5,300 acre national wildlife refuge stretches about 10 miles in a long narrow strip along the valley floor as it boarders highway US-93 (Fig. 02). It encompasses 2 lakes, a medium sized pond, 2 large marshes, several smaller wetlands and the surrounding desert uplands. Relatively flat, Its elevation ranges from approximately 3,200 feet to 3,378 feet. The name Pahranagat is Paiute and means "a valley of shining waters". This oasis of water and trees in the desert, provides outstanding photographic opportunities not only for wildlife, but desert sunsets, scenic mountains and spring wildflowers. Though visitors are free to roam the area, there isn't much in the way of defined hiking trails. There is the main highway and a few refuge access roads but there aren't any marked and/or maintained hiking trails. It falls within what is known as the Pacific Flyway, making it a high quality wintering and migration habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds. It often sees peregrine falcons, bald eagles and southwestern willow flycatchers in the air and desert tortoise on the ground (all either threatened or endangered species). More than 230 species of birds have been documented at Pahranagat in the different seasons. As much as bird watching is an obvious activity to enjoy at Pahranagat NWR, fishing is allowed in most areas and hunting (in season) is allowed in some areas, too. What isn't wet is populated with rabbits, squirrels and small rodents. Get up the hill outside the refuge boundaries and you're liable to find mule deer, pronghorn antelope, bobcats, coyotes and mountain lions.
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Over the past several years, I have stopped and visited the Pahranagat Valley area no less than ten times in search of various petroglyph sites. Including visits to Black Canyon, this has included no less than five hiking stops at the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge. Because these various hikes have resulted in hundreds of pictures, I have created several individual pages to describe them. Three of my visits here were for the specific purpose of taking pictures of the petroglyphs found in Black Canyon on the east side of the refuge opposite the main entrance (Fig. 02). I have placed link that will take you to a summary page containing pictures, descriptions and petroglyph information about the Black Canyon petroglyphs as well as additional links pertaining to my visits to this site. Most of the pictures found on this page are from hiking in and around the refuge headquarters and the upper lake, both located on the west side of the highway.
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Black Canyon Petroglyphs: Well-known for its concentration of Pahranagat Representational Style petroglypns, the archaeological significance of Black Canyon was recognized in the 1970's with its listing on the National Register of Historic Places as an archaeological district. In April 2009 the Far Western Anthropological Research Group recorded rock art features at Black Canyon for the purpose of providing data that would serve as the basis for future management, conservation, and interpretation of the district's unique cultural resources. Here is a link to the summary page I created on my three visits to Black Canyon … Black Canyon Petroglyphs (Summary page).
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06/27/2019 Trip Notes: For this visit, Jim Herring and I visited the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge and its Black Canyon Petroglyph Area. In addition, we drove the Old Buckhorne Road, sometimes labeled the Black Canyon Road, to the intersection of Alamo Canyon Road, in search of some petroglyphs. We stopped at the visitor center to gather some info, but it was closed. Click here for pictures and and description of this trip ... Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge - 06/27/2019 Trip Notes.

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09/24/2015 Trip Notes: Today's trip makes my fifth visit to the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge. Even though this area is fed by three natural springs, this was the driest I have ever seen this place. The two lower lakes have nearly dried up. The effects on the local habitat, plants and grasses are dried up in many places. Fortunately the natural springs here are still providing substance to some of the areas. No matter how many times I visit here, I always seem to capture some nice pictures. Click this link to view the pictures for today's visit ... Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge - 09/24/2015 Trip Notes.

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07/10/2015 Trip Notes: Returning from a daytrip to Pioche, Nevada, I stopped at the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge to tour its new visitor center (Fig. 04). From the small small two room building that acted as both an office and visitor center on my first visit here in 2012, I was amazed at the size of the new facility. Funding for this project came from the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act (SNPLMA).  Passed in 1998, SNPLMA  allows the Bureau of Land Management to sell public land within an urban boundary surrounding Las Vegas, Nevada. Having only been officially open for less than five months, it appeared that they are still working on the outside landscaping, however the interior is fully finished. In the lobby entrance, one wall has a beautiful full-size mural of one of the refuge’s lake areas (Fig. 05). Off the lobby entrance there is also a room where you can watch a movie showcasing the refuge and all its features titled “Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge”, produced in 2014 by Bristlecone Media. Click here to view … On the opposite side is a large display area (Figs. 06 & 07) that highlight some of the refuge’s major features. Refuge staff worked closely with Nuwuvi (Southern Paiute) to develop exhibits interpreting the wildlife refuge through multiple perspectives. The building also houses administrative offices for refuge staff. Including the camping area on its Upper Lake (Fig. 02), it is estimated that nearly 35,000 people visit the refuge each year.
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06/18/2012 Trip Notes: On the first day of a week-long camping trip with Harvey Smith to Spring Valley State Park, north of Pioche, NV, we made a couple of stops at the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge that boarders the western side of US-93. Having driven past the Lower Lake and the meadows surrounding Middle Pond, (refer to (Fig. 02) above) we decided to make a stop at the refuge’s headquarters. We spent nearly an hour walking around this area taking in the scenic views and observing the abundant wildlife. We saw numerous birds, roadrunners, cottontail rabbits, long eared jackrabbits, etc. (Fig. 08). We also toured two old buildings in the process of restoration; one of stone and one a log cabin (Fig. 09) that were surrounded by some of the oldest Cottonwood trees (Figs. 10 & 11) we’ve ever seen. The views in (Figs. 12 & 13) were taken near the rear of the property, looking west towards the surrounding mountain ranges. (scroll down for more)
PNWR - Wildlife
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PNWR - Buildings
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After hiking around the area surrounding the refuge headquarters, we headed north 0n US-93 and entered the refuge again, driving along the eastern side of the Upper Lake (Fig. 02). The first picture below (Fig. 14) was taken from inside a duck blind located along the lake’s northern shore. As we drove and hiked along the lake’s edge (Figs 15 & 16), taking in the beautiful scenery it provided, we were serenaded by the sounds of birds, ducks and some very deep throated bullfrogs.
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