Few landscapes are as contrasting as the lush wetlands and surrounding Mojave Desert as found at the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge about eight miles south of Alamo on U.S. Highway 93.

Administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the 5,382-acres refuge was created in August, 1963. It is part of the larger Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which includes three other national wildlife sites, Ash Meadows, Desert National and Moapa Valley refuges.

Manager Rob Vinson notes, “It is a living heritage, conserving wildlife habitat and cultural resources for present and future generations.” A new visitor’s center was opened there in January, 2015.

Located within the Pacific Flyway, a north-south migratory route, the refuge provides high quality migration and wintering habitat for migrating birds, with emphasis on waterfowl. Over 260 bird species have been recorded at the refuge, including the majestic bald eagle.

Both the upper and lower lakes of the refuge are supplied by life-giving waters from Crystal and Ash Springs some 15-20 miles to the north.

Originally designated at 3,916 acres in 1963, later acquisitions of land have allowed the refuge to expand to 5,382 acres.

Hiking trails cross through five different habitat types, giving visitors the opportunity to see meadows, marshes, lakes, streams and desert within a single afternoon visit.  Hunting and fishing are popular activities and for those interested in experiencing this unique desert oasis at night, camping and picnicking is available at the Upper Lake.

In season, duck hunting is allowed at the Lower Lake, the one to the south.

Tim Parker, visitor’s specialist at the refuge, said there are three more activities planned for the summer.

On July 30, a Scorpion Hunt is planned. “These are popular outings,” he says. “We go hiking at night to find glowing scorpions with UV lights. There will be some stories and games, too.” Everyone is asked to gather at campsite 14 at 8:30 p.m.

On Aug. 6 is the Duckwing Maze.  Parker describes this as being, “tons of fun for kids and adults. We use real duck wings to navigate an indoor maze. It’s best suited for kids age 9 and older.” Meet at 9:30 a.m. at the visitors center.

Then on Aug. 13, Parker has planned an “owl calling” evening. It’s a walk in the refuge to call owls. “Come to find out how.”  It will be from 8 to 9:30 p.m. at the visitors center.

For more information on any of these events call the wildlife refuge, Friday through Sunday, 775-725-3417