We are truly in the middle of nowhere. The nearest grocery store is 30 miles away. So who would have guessed that there is a jewel out here in the desert.
It’s called Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. Few people have probably even heard of it. It encompasses 23,000 acres of spring-fed wetlands and alkaline desert and was established in 1984 to protect endangered and threatened species.
The visitor center is only about 10 miles from where we are staying. After seeing some information about it in a brochure, we decided to check it out yesterday.
As we were driving down the road to get there, I just couldn’t imagine there were wetlands anywhere within a hundred miles. The very nice lady at the visitor center gave us some information and told us to walk down the boardwalk next to the center to see the spring.
As we walked along, there were some information signs. We learned that the mesquite trees are native to the Mojave Desert, but many had been cleared away for farming and ranching. The refuge is protecting the trees which provide shelter for many birds.
At the end of the boardwalk we found the amazing Crystal Spring. The water is crystal clear and just as blue as you would see in the Caribbean. The trees in the background are mesquite.
Ash Meadows has the greatest concentration of endemic life in the United States. Endemic means found here and no where else. Several of the species are endangered.
There are over 30 seeps and springs in the refuge. The water comes from an underground aquifer system and it supposedly takes thousands of years to move through the earth. Over 10,000 gallons per minute flow year round. These are hot springs as the water comes from deep down in the earth.
One of the main focuses of the refuge is saving the endangered species of pupfish found only here. They are tiny little fish that feed off the algae in the bottom of the springs and can live in water as warm as 90 degrees.
It was quite warm yesterday so we only checked out the one spring. There are two more boardwalks to other springs. We are planning on going back next week.
It has still been in the 80s each day so we’ve put off going to Death Valley. Next week is supposed to cool off to highs in the low 70s; perfect for wandering around the desert.
Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!