Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Ash Meadows

This amazing desert oasis was almost demolished in the 1970's when water-hungry developers and ranchers wanted to pump its springs dry. Now managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (who worked with the Nature Conservancy to purchase and restore the area), Ash Meadows continues to recover from past abuse. The small preserve is only half an hour from Pahrump. Visitors cannot see its most famous resident, the Devil's Hole Pupfish, both because of the fragility of the species (an April 2006 survey counted only 38) and because the cave in which the pupfish live was fenced off after two divers died in it. Visitors can, however, easily see other types of pupfish -- many endangered -- at any of the other springs. Ash Meadows is home to 24 endangered plants and animals, giving it the distinction of possessing one of the highest densities of endemic species in North America.

Where Route 66 Meets the Wild West

Burros in the street, a haunted hotel, and regularly scheduled gun fights are just a few of Oatman’s many attractions. Tour a gold mine, have a drink in the oldest building in Mojave County, get a tattoo, drive one of old Route 66’s most treacherous portions – but whatever you choose to do, be sure to buy a bag of carrots for the burros. These fat and happy descendants of miners’ burros are now pretty much in charge of things around here.

Oatman is an easy 2.5 hour drive from Las Vegas. For more about Oatman, watch for my article in an upcoming issue of Southern Nevada Life: Fun and Fit. You can also visit Oatman on the web at: http://www.oatmangoldroad.com