Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge - Summary Page

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Ash Meadows Cover
Ash Meadows Map
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10/29/2015 Trip Notes: This is my second visit to Ash Meadows with the rock-hounds from Henderson’s Heritage Park Senior Center. This was the first time we were able to visit their new Visitor Center. Upon our visit to the visitor center we learned that they experienced the worst rain storm in the existence, more than 2 inches of rain that flooded the entire area and wash out many of its roads. Everything north of the visitor center (Fig. 02), including the road to the Crystal Reservoir were all closed. Today we were restricted to Crystal Spring Boardwalk, behind the visited center, and Devil’s Hole and the Point of Rocks Springs. Click here for pictures and information on today’s visit … Ash Meadows NWR - 10/29/2015 Trip Notes.

11/06/2014 Trip Notes: Even though I visited this place back in August of 2012, this is the first time that the rock-hounds from the Heritage Park Senior Center has made this a destination. During today’s visit, we made stops at the Point of Rocks Springs, Devil’s Hole, Crystal Reservoir, and Crystal Springs Boardwalk adjacent to the Refuge’s headquarters and visitor center. Click here for more info on Ash Meadows and pictures and information on today’s visit … Ash Meadows NWR - 11/06/2014 Trip Notes.
06/08/2012 Trip Notes: Even though this refuge has more than 30 natural springs, there are seven major springs and reservoirs (Fig. 02) worthy of taking the time to view. Having entered from its southern entrance (Fig. 01),  we slowly worked our way up to the refuge headquarters and the Crystal Spring Boardwalk, making our first stop at Point of Rocks Springs along the way. Below are pictures and summaries for each of our stops and hikes we made during this visit.

E-P1120075Point of Rocks Springs: The Point of Rocks springs area is the eastern most set of springs in the valley, almost up against the mountains that bound the valley to the east. Smaller than Crystal Spring, its long stream supports a large variety of grasses and vegetation as it runs southward.  A meandering 3/4 mile boardwalk follows a relatively long outflow stream that provides some excellent ‘birding’ opportunities. The color of the spring itself is outstanding. We felt this was the best spring as both the spring and its outflow streams were filled with the rare Ash Meadows Amargosa Pupfish. Besides seeing dozens of birds, we spotted two baby desert cottontails and a  Western Zebra Tailed Lizard (Callisaurus draconoides rhodostictus). (Click to learn more)
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E-P1120197Crystal Spring:  Crystal Spring is a  warm-water pool of clear, blue-green water, maybe 9-10 feet deep and 25 feet across, with various ducks and other birds in residence. It has a white sandy floor and some bright green algae and has an outflow stream that runs along the .4 mile Crystal Spring boardwalk that leads from the refuge office to the spring through fairly open, fairly flat desert landscape. It is surrounded by a few trees, lots of shrubs, and grapevines. The winding outflow stream runs along the boardwalk and through an open area with scattered screwbean mesquite thickets, various species of desert shrub, and a carpet of saltgrass. The bare areas are covered with a crust of salt, which almost looks like a blanket of snow. Crystal Spring gets its name from the ‘crystal’ clear water that it omits. There are many surrounding wetland – areas where water seeps to the surface but does not flow out like a spring, that are filled with bushes, grass, reeds, and an occasional tree that suck water up as fast as it comes to the surface. While walking the boardwalk as it followed the outflow stream we spotted dozens of dragonflies, some crawfish, and a few speckled dance.
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E-P1120220Longstreet Cabin. Completed in 2005, the Longstreet Cabin, a reconstructed historic stone structure, was originally built by Jack Longstreet, one of the legendary gunslingers of the early West. He arrived in Nevada in the 1880's seeking a fresh start from a shadowy past. Having killed many men, his skill with a gun gave him a reputation as a dangerous man. Because trouble seemed to follow him, he found it necessary to live in remote places to avoid his enemies. Circa 1895 he built his stone cabin into the side of a spring mound, ensuring access to fresh water if he ever had to barricade himself inside. Though his residence at Ash Meadows was short-lived, he continued to visit his cabin until he finally sold the property in 1906. Longstreet epitomized the mythical Western frontiersman: self-reliant, strong-willed, and fair-minded. Speaking with a southern drawl, he championed the rights of the Southern Paiute – with whom he often lived-- and protected mine workers during disputes. At the time of his death in 1928 he was revered as a gruff but kind old man with many stories of his gunslinger days.
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E-P1120226Longstreet Spring. Situated directly in front of the Longstreet Cabin, the Longstreet Spring emerges into a deep, yet very clear, 40-foot-diameter spring pool. It is surrounded by mesquite and ash trees, plus lots of shrubs, sedges, and forbs. Away from the edge of the spring, the vegetation quickly changes to mesquite thickets with saltgrass, and then dry desert saltbush. There is a very strong outflow stream that flows west along a cattail-filled ditch whose noise makes it hard to hear the birds. This lush area is another good birding location. We didn’t observe any fish at this location.
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E-P1120234Rogers Spring. Rogers spring is located in a broad ravine near the base of some low hills. This was the last spring we visited today and though it was the smallest spring we visited, it was certainly the deepest. The spring emerges into a very deep spring pool that is about 25 feet in diameter. It is surrounded by salt grass, mesquite, saltcedar, and ash trees, plus lots of shrubs, sedges, and forbs. At the springs outflow the vegetation quickly changes to mesquite thickets, and then dry desert saltbush. As with almost all of the springs here, there is a outflow that runs west along a cattail-filled ditch. Similar to the Longstreet Spring, the noise from the strong outflow makes it hard to hear the birds. This lush area is another good birding location, however we did not observe any fish at this location.
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E-P1120250Crystal Reservoir and the Horseshoe and Lower Crystal Marshes: On our way out, we made our last stop of the day at the Crystal Reservoir, the largest body of water on the refuge. Because it is an impoundment with a dam, it gets lots of maintenance and is the only place where swimming is allowed. This remarkably clear reservoir is held behind a low earthen dam along the western and southern sides. This dam is a good, elevated place to walk and watch birds on the water and in the thickets below the dam. There are cattails and bulrushes on the northwestern and southeastern ends of the lake, and a few other shrubs here and there, but most of the shoreline is clear and the views of the lake are unobstructed. This is normally a great place to view larger birds and waterfowl, however, because it had become quite windy, we only got to observe a few ducks. Two places we didn’t have time to visit were Horseshoe Marsh and Lower Crystal Marsh, both small ponds with relatively large marshland areas, located  below the dam on its western side.

This 23,000 acre refuge is huge. Once inside, we traveled more than 30 miles reaching the areas that we visited, and even though there is a lot of plain old dry desert between them, most are certainly worth the drive.  After all this, there were still five locations that we failed to visit; Devils Hole, Jackrabbit Spring, Fairbanks Spring, Peterson Reservoir, and the two marshland areas below the Crystal Reservoir. Oh well, there is always a next time....


Memorial Weekend

22nd Annual Snow Mountain Powwow
E-P1110781On Saturday a neighbor friend and I attended the 22nd Annual Powwow on May 26th and 27th held at Snow Mountain, located just 20 miles north of downtown Las Vegas off of Route 95. Sponsored by the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe, this colorful annual event celebrates American Indian culture with dance and music put on by nearly a dozen Indian tribes from a spattering of western states including, Nevada, California, Washington, New Mexico and the mid west. This was the first time I ever attended one of these events and really enjoyed it. Click here to view my pictures and learn more about the nature of a Powwow … 22nd Annual Snow Mountain Powwow.


This Week’s (05/24/2012) Hike

Wheeler Pass
E-P1110723-P1110725This was my second trip to this area with rock-hounds from the Henderson Heritage Park Senior Facility. While the temperatures back in Las Vegas were approaching the mid-90’s, at an elevation of near 7,000 feet it was around 78 degrees with a slight breeze, an absolutely beautiful hiking day. Having driven much further up the road than on our previous visit, we came to the remains of an old sawmill operation that dated back to the late 1,800’s. Click here to view pictures and learn more about this location … Wheeler Pass.


The Visitor Center at RRCNCA

The Desert Tortoise Habitat
E-P1110470A must stop on any visit to the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (RRCNCA) is the Desert Tortoise habitat behind the visitor center. This area contains more than eight Desert Tortoise in a natural environment setting that allows for observation and picture taking. You can watch the emerge from their burrows and being fed by personnel from the Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association.

This Week’s (05/10/12) Hike

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (RRCNCA)
E-P1110550This weeks hike consisted of several stops within the RRCNA. First we stopped at Red Springs in Calico Basin. From there we entered Red Rock Canyon and made a stop at the Visitor Center and the Desert Tortoise Habitat. Next we head out around the 13-mile Scenic Loop Drive to the Willow Springs Picnic Area for a short hike to some Petroglyphs. Finally we drove to the trailhead for the Pine Creek Canyon Trail where we spent more than two hours hiking. Because each of these stops can be considered a ‘day-trip’ in its own right, I have separate pages on my site for each one. Clicking the links below will take you to each specific location.

Red Spring at Calico Basin: Red Spring at Calico Basin
The Desert Tortoise Habitat: Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii)
Willow Springs Picnic Area: Willow Springs Picnic Area (RRCNCA)
Pine Creek Canyon Trail:  Pine Creek Canyon
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area: Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area


22nd Annual Snow Mountain Pow Wow

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This page last updated on 05/29/2017
The Las Vegas Paiute Tribe celebrated American Indian culture with southern Nevadans at its 22nd Annual Powwow on May 26th and 27th held at Snow Mountain, located just 20 miles north of downtown Las Vegas off of Route 95. This event is held here every year. The grounds circling the outdoor performance arena contained several food vendors and dozens of booths by artisans and crafters that provided a unique shopping experience. Items included Indian jewelry, pottery, flutes, traditional Indian music, blankets and baskets. Coinciding with Memorial Day Weekend, the 12:00 p.m. grand entry opening ceremony honored all Veterans who have served in the United States of America armed forces. The Southern Paiute Veteran Association led an honor guard and performed a Native American salute, including a unique version of the widely recognized, traditional military Taps song that was then followed by a Veterans Honor Dance Contest.
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History of the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe
The Tudinu (or Desert People), ancestors of the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe, occupied the territory encompassing part of the Colorado River, most of Southeastern Nevada and parts of both Southern California and Utah. Outsiders who came to the Paiutes’ territory often described the land as harsh, arid and barren; however the Paiutes developed a culture suited to the diverse land and its resources. A booming railroad town brought an end to the Paiutes’ free movement and traditional way of life, depriving them of their own land. On December 30, 1911, ranch owner Helen J. Stewart deeded 10 acres in downtown Las Vegas to the Paiutes, establishing the Las Vegas Paiute Colony. In 1970 they were recognized as a Sovereign Nation. Through an Act of Congress of 1983, an additional 3,800 acres of land returned to Paiute possession at the Snow Mountain Reservation. Over the years since, the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe developed a thriving cigarette retail business at its downtown Tribal Smoke Shop. In addition, the Tribe also operates a Smokeshop and gas station at the Snow Mountain Reservation. On March 1, 1994, the Tribe opened its first golf course, designed by Pete Dye. It has since opened two additional courses and has a beautiful clubhouse, pro shop, restaurant and banquet facilities.
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What is a Powwow
It’s a time, and a celebration, whereby various tribes gather to renew thought of the old ways and to preserve their rich heritage through music and dance. There are several different stories of how the powwow was started. Some believe that the War dance Societies of the Ponca and other Southern Plains Tribes were the origin of the powwow. Another belief is that when the Native American tribes were forced onto reservations the government also forced them to have dances for the public to come and see. Before each dance they were lead through the town in a parade, which is the beginning of the Grand Entry. Though dancing is the primary focus of a Powwow, the singers and drummers are a vital key to Native American culture. Without them there would be no dancing. The music and songs are of many varieties, from religious to war to social and are reminders to the Indian people of their old ways and rich heritage. Dances have always been a very important part of the life of the American Indian. Most dances seen at Powwows today are social dances which might have had different meanings and importance in earlier days. The colorful traditional dress worn by the dancers often have tribal meaning, yet like the styles of clothing today evolve over time; it is not a stagnant culture, but a vibrant and changing way of life.


The Drum
The drum is the heartbeat and central pulse of any Native American powwow.  A "drum" is a group of singers (usually 5-10 members) who sing as they beat in unison a rhythm on a large drum. Each drum had a lead singer and a "second" who repeats the lead line on a different key. Drums are positioned around the edge of the dance arena. These drummers and singers (usually men) are very important to any Powwow as they must know several types of songs for all the different dances. Each drum has it own style, such as Northern or Southern. All songs are sung four times, a sacred number in the Native American tradition. Most songs have no actual words but are syllable that carry the melody and meaning of the song. These syllable are called vocables and may be sung in either English or Native languages.

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Native American Dance Styles: Dance is one of the most beautiful parts of Native American culture and a key element of any Powwow. Generations of Native Americans have developed a variety of dances and dance styles for many different kinds of occasions. Dance participants, in the form of tribes or families, perform a variety of dance styles competing for prize money and recognition. There are categories for every age group; Junior (6-12), Teen (13-17), Jr. Adult (18-34),  Sr. Adult ( 35-49), and Golden Age (50 +). Each age group features men and women’s competitions and may have up to five or six individual dance styles, including those listed below.


E-P1110775The Straight Dance: The Straight Dance from Oklahoma Native American Tribes is a formal, tailored, prestigious form of southern dance clothes. The overall effect is of reassuring solidity, with everything closely matched and coordinated.   It looks as if it is planned all at one time. It is believed that the Ponca tribe of American Indians created this style.  There are a lot of clothes to wear in the outfit, and accordingly the dance is slow and proud.  The art of straight Dancing is in the little, sometimes unnoticed things, both in the movement and the outfit. Smoothness, precision with the song, knowledge of dance etiquette, and a powerful sense of pride mark the outstanding Straight Dancer. A Straight Dancer will carry either a mirror board or a tail stick in their right hand.  The tail stick originated as the badge of office of a Tail Dancer in a Hethuska Society.  Today the tail stick is carried by many dancers in and out of the Hethuska Dance.  A tail stick is usually given to a Straight Dancer by another experienced dancer.  A mirror board is a substitute for the tail stick, and may be carried by any dancer.

E-P1110792Ladies Cloth Dance: The Ladies Cloth is a form of Native American women's dress and dance and has both a Northern and Southern style. The Southern style is danced by the Kiowas, Osage, Ponca, and others. The Northern style is danced by the Sioux, Crow, and others. The dance is a slow and graceful one much like the Women's Buckskin style. There are many variations among Native American Tribes with the outfit, including wearing a cloth dress or a wool dress. The boots are a high top moccasin that is usually partially beaded. The dress is a long dress with open sleeves. The bottom of the dress is covered in a wrap that is usually a contrasting color or pattern. The wrap is sometimes fringed like a shawl.
E-P1110798Jingle Dress Dance: The Jingle Dress is also called a Prayer Dress. There are differences in the origins of the dress among the tribes. The dress was seen in a dream, as an object to bring healing to afflicted people. It comes from the Northern Tribe Ojibewea or Chippewa, along the Canadian border. A Medicine Man's Granddaughter became very ill one day. In a dream, his spirit guides told him to make a Jingle dress for her and have her dance in it. Jingle Dresses are decorated with rolled up snuff can lids that are hung with ribbon and then sewed to the dress, close enough so they can hit together, causing a beautiful sound. If you listen carefully when they pass by, it sounds as though it were raining!

E-P1110785Ladies Fancy Shawl Dance: Ladies Fancy Shawl is the newest form of Native American Women's Dance, and is quite athletic! Fancy Shawl, similar to the Men’s Fancy Dance, is often called Northern Shawl, as it does come form the Northern Tribes along the U.S. and Canadian Border. The ladies wear their shawls over their shoulders, and dance by jumping and spinning around, keeping time with the music. They mimic butterflies in flight, and the dance style is quite graceful and light.
Emphasis is paid particularly to the shawls, with elaborate designs, applique, ribbon work, and painting. Long fringe hangs from the edges of the shawl, and flies round.


E-P1110811Men’s Fancy Dance: The Oklahoma Feather Dance or "Fancy Dance" is one of the most popular styles of Native American dance and outfits seen at modern Powwows. The "Fancy Dance" originated as Fancy War Dance by the Hethuska Society in Oklahoma and was invented by Gus McDonald, the first World Champion Fancy War Dancer. The most obvious items in the Fancy Dance outfit are great amounts of loom beaded sets of suspenders, belt cuffs, headband, and armbands. The other trademark for Fancy Dancers is the use of large feather bustles. Currently most bustles are color-coordinated with the bead work by using large amounts of feather hackles dyed the appropriate colors.


E-P1110793Grass Dance: Originally done as a Warrior Society Dance, it has evolved over the years into a highly-competitive form of northern dancing. Grass Dancers always stands out by virtue of two things: his dancing style and his outfit. His dancing has been described often by these words:" gutsy, swinging, slick, old-time," etc. His outfit stands out by virtue of the almost complete absence of feathers, for aside from the roach feather, there are no bustles of any kind to be seen. The outfit consists of shirt and pants, with beaded or otherwise decorated belt and side tabs, armbands, cuffs, and front and back apron, with matched headband and moccasins. The perfect headdress is the porcupine hair roach which is attached to a head harness. It is decorated with rosettes, hearts, etc., and long drop stripped with fluffs, or drops made from chains or cafe curtain rings. Dancers often carry fans, Eagle-bone or carved ‘screen” whistles, mirror boards, and dance hoops of various sizes.


E-P1110860Northern Traditional Dance: The Northern Traditional Dancer is a modern evolution of tribal outfits from the tribes of the Northern Plains such as Sioux, Blackfoot, Crow, Omaha and others. There are many variations to the dress from area to area and from tribe to tribe. On his head the Traditional Dancer wears a roach made of porcupine hair and deer tail hair. The longer porcupine hair is preferred because of it’s movement. The roach spreader can be made of bone, metal, rawhide or leather. It can be carved, beaded, painted, etc. or just left plain. The roach feathers are inserted in sockets on the spreader, with two roach feathers being the usual number. In his hands, the dancer can carry a range of objects, commonly being a wing fan, pipe bag, dance stick, bow, etc. The movement in this style is one that is sometimes characterized as similar to a prairie chicken. The dancer is also said to be re-enacting the movement of a warrior searching for the enemy.

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