A mere 25 minutes northwest of Las Vegas lies a surprisingly beautiful oasis in the middle of the desert. Corn Creek, was created in 1936 as a protective habitat for the Big Horn sheep population of Southern Nevada. Over time, it became one of the best places to view hundreds of migratory bird species. Surrounded by multiple mountain ranges and a vast wilderness, Corn Creek is one of the entry points into the Desert National Wildlife Reserve, the largest refuge (1.6 million acres) in the United States outside of Alaska.
Recently renovated (to the dismay of some), Corn Creek and it’s Visitor Center offers plenty to see. Beyond bird watching, be sure to look for other desert wildlife like jackrabbits, lizards, coyotes, tortoise, snakes, and squirrels. There are also beautiful old trees, springs and ponds surrounded by reeds and grasses, an orchard, historic buildings and cabins, wildflowers, cactus, and endless desert vistas.
The children and I visited this past fall on a day where I felt like getting outside but wasn’t up for a full-on expedition. If you’re looking for a family-friendly adventure that requires little effort and/or time, this is definitely worth a visit! Pack a picnic and spend a couple of hours strolling around this calming sanctuary.
From Las Vegas, take US 95 Northbound towards Mt. Charleston. Shortly after the turn off for Kyle Canyon road, look for Mile Marker 101. There will be a sign on the righthand side that says Corn Creek. Turn right/E, then follow the gravel road 4 miles until you come to the Corn Creek Field Station and Visitors Center. For more adventure, take a vehicle that is equipped for off-roading and continue on into the Desert NWR. Be warned! It’s extremely bumpy. I tried to drive further into the park but my car simply wouldn’t have it.
There are 5 easy trails that loop around the Corn Creek area. All are stroller, wheelchair, child, and elderly-friendly. This is a nice place to bring a picnic, walk around, look for wildlife and it’s also great for photo opportunities. Don’t expect a good workout here! If you are looking for more of a backcountry adventure, head further into the Desert National Wildlife Reserve for hiking, camping, and hunting.