The vast Overton Wildlife Management Area is in the southern section of the Moapa Valley, a fertile area of farms and small towns nourished by the Muddy River. The wildlife area was established in 1953. It’s on the north arm of Lake Mead, so its size is dictated by the water level of the lake. The surrounding scenery includes the stunning red rock of the Valley of Fire to the west, the Virgin Mountains to the east, and mesas, buttes, and high-desert landscapes in between.
It seems that anything can be found here. In just the past few years, Common Crane and Thick-billed Kingbird have been observed. Wintering Bald Eagles perch in trees set against desert peaks. On any given day, you might spot raptors such as Peregrine and Prairie Falcons, Merlin, and Cooper’s, Sharp-shinned, Red-shouldered, and Red-tailed Hawks. I’ve seen all of those species, and many more. A morning’s checklist in spring, for example, will likely include warblers, shorebirds, and waterfowl.
For the past few years, I’ve been staying in the town of Overton during winter and early spring, which, along with late fall, are the best times to visit. I highly recommend spending a day here. There’s a good chance you’ll be surprised by what you see. — Steve Wolfe
Desert wash and mesquite, desert riparian areas, Mojave desert scrub, wet meadow, rivers, and agricultural cropland.
Mostly flat, elevation 1,150-1,240 feet; surrounded by mesas and mountains. Interior roads, rutted and dusty, can turn into boot-sucking mud after a rainy period.
260 species. Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Ruddy Duck, Tundra Swan, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Prairie Falcon, Merlin, egrets, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Lesser Yellowlegs, Sora, Ridgway’s Rail (uncommon), Phainopepla, Northern Mockingbird, Crissal Thrasher, Wilson’s, Yellow, and Lucy’s Warblers, Loggerhead Shrike, Bell’s Vireo, Western Meadowlark. Rarities: Thick-billed Kingbird, Common Crane, and Trumpeter Swan.
When to go
Fall through spring. Summer gets too hot, reaching 100-plus degrees.
Amenities are few; only two restrooms — one with wheelchair access. No drinking water or places to get snacks, and no visitor center.
State wildlife management area. Open all year. Admission free. Ample parking at end of unpaved entrance road. Interior roads open except on even days in hunting season (September 1 through February 17), when access is for licensed hunters only.
During hunting season, verify that the wildlife area is open to non-hunters by calling (702) 397-2142 or the Nevada Department of Wildlife Habitat Division, (775) 463-7816. Drive interior roads in a high-clearance vehicle only, particularly during winter.
For more info
Overton Wildlife Management Area, (702) 397-2142.
About 14 miles to the north, on SR 169. Common Loon, American White Pelican. Bird from Bowman Rd. A spotting scope is useful.