It surprised us to learn that the Desert National Wildlife Refuge – just about 30 minutes north of Las Vegas, Nevada – is the largest wildlife refuge outside of Alaska, at 1.6 million acres! Much of this is inaccessible of course but we enjoyed getting our ‘new’ Nissan Xterra, Frida, out for some 4x4ing to take in the sites. You don’t have to go too far down Mormon Well Rd. to reach the Yucca Forest, which is super impressive, but the road is definitely rocky and you’ll want a high clearance vehicle to do it.
THE QUICK DETAILS
- This is free camping on Fish & Wildlife Service land
- There are a small handful of sites, all chunky gravel, and there’s a 14 day stay limit
- There are two fairly large sites near GPS 36.4396, -115.3576 (one on the right and one a little farther on the left)
- There’s an additional site at GPS 36.435307, -115.351500
- There is a very slow water bottle fountain near the bathrooms at the visitor’s center. We painstakingly filled our 5 gallon jug here
- There are fun exhibits in the visitor’s center and a scenic 4x4 drive up Mormon Well Rd
We stayed here December 15-16, 2018. The first two sites that you encounter (after turning left just past the visitor’s center) were full so we had to continue another 2 miles down the gravel road. We started thinking we weren’t going to find anything but ended up finding a wide wash that was good enough for a couple nights and there wasn’t any rain in the forecast. We had a ranger come by our site just to make sure we knew there was a 14 day stay limit. He also let us know there was some allowed hunting happening within the refuge (I think he said sheep hunting!). It was just a short stay for us so that we could be close to Las Vegas for some mechanic work but we did still enjoy our time here.
Getting Frida (our Nissan Xterra) out on the 4x4 road for her first off-roading adventure was pretty awesome. I logged some more miles driving the stick shift on the way out and Brad drove on the way back. We made it to Peek-A-Boo Canyon and went in a little ways but turned around shortly after, deciding that we’d had enough bouncing on the rocky road! We’re still pretty new to this whole off-roading thing!
The camping area is called Corn Creek Spring and you can find more photos and reviews here
Check out our episode from this spot: