Sober In Vegas: About an hour outside of town, exploring the Desert National Wildlife Refuge

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Map & pamphlet from the DNWL

This is the perfect time of year to explore the outdoors here in Nevada.

Most places summer is your outdoor time, but here in the Southwest January is a great time to get to know the desert.

For me I’m also working on switching out bad habits (ie. being hungover new year’s day) with good habits (like spending the day with friends in the fresh air) so this was a great opportunity to reinforce good habits on the first day of 2017!


Some general info:

  • The Desert National Wildlife Refuge is located about 1 hour north of the strip via the 95 and requires a car.
  • To do many of the activities you’d need a car that can off-road, but there are offerings that don’t require off-roading to enjoy as well.
  • It was created in 1936 to protect bighorn sheep and in addition to housing homesteaders in the early 1900’s, prior to that housed the Southern Paiute Tribe.
  • Outside of Alaska, The DNWR is the largest National Wildlife Refuge in the US.
  • They house a fish species that is native to Nevada and endangered called the Pahrump poolfish. 
  • Activities include hiking, camping, hunting, and wildlife viewing and photography.
  • Oh, and it’s FREE!

I knew I needed to do something New Year’s Day that was outside and not too far from the city that made me feel good about my decision not to drink the night before.

Driving to another destination a little further north (that I’ll write about in a future post…!) we found the refuge.  I saw the sign and begged my friends to let us detour on the way home–and all three of us had a truly wonderful time here completely unplanned.

We did NOT have a vehicle with the capacity to off-road, so this post is about things you can do without 4 wheel drive.


First, the visitor center!

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A view of the front of the visitor center

It’s LEED certified and the staff was so wonderful.

We got there about an hour before they were closing and no one made us feel unwelcome–in fact, they even stayed open a few minutes late to allow my friend to make a purchase in their store.

Through May 2017 their hours are Thursdays – Mondays, 8:00 am – 4:30 pm.  (FYI Visitors are encouraged to check their Facebook page or call (702) 879-6110 for info on last-minute changes to hours.)

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A view of the interior of the Visitor Center
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Another view of the interior that leads out to the Corn Creek Trail System

The visitor center has a educational movie room where you can learn about the Mojave Desert plant & wildlife. They also have some great displays about local wildlife and the native peoples that lived on the land.

They have a gift shop area and a staff desk where they are happy to give you info about how best to enjoy the park with the time and resources you have.

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A view of the gift shop

Outside you can venture onto the Corn Creek Trail System.

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All in all it’s a little over 2 miles–not very strenuous–and has some beautiful views of the mountains.

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A few other pictures of the trail areas…there is much more than I’ve posted here, but as it was an unplanned stop we didn’t have a ton of time!

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And below is a view of the trail options for off-roading vehicles

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I can’t wait to make the trek out here again, next time planned….it was a very special place with so many different options of ways to enjoy the outdoors.

Even if you’ve only got an hour, the DNWR is worth the stop.

Happy 2017 sober friends!

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4 thoughts on “Sober In Vegas: About an hour outside of town, exploring the Desert National Wildlife Refuge

    1. I totally hear that! That’s one of the reasons I started this blog was to help folks who may live here and aren’t a part of the party scene 🙂 I love the desert too! I have a few other outdoor places I can’t wait to write about here as well. Thanks for reading Elizabeth!

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