Hotspots Near You

253. Overton Wildlife Management Area, Overton, Nevada

A vast area on the north arm of Lake Mead where you can find raptors, shorebirds, warblers, and more.
By Steve Wolfe | Published: 2/22/2017

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

Steve Wolfe is a writer and photographer. Previously, he wrote about the South Coast Botanic Garden, Hotspot Near You No. 229.

253. Overton Wildlife Management Area, Overton, Nevada

Directions

The Overton Wildlife Management Area protects 17,229 acres in the Mojave Desert, 65 miles northeast of Las Vegas. From the city, take I-15 north for 50 miles and follow exit 93 onto State Rd. 169. Drive south for 13 miles. The main entrance is located about two miles south of the town of Overton.

Downloadable Files

At a Glance

Click on the coordinates below to view location:
36°30’59.54″N 114°25’27.14″W

Habitat

Desert wash and mesquite, desert riparian areas, Mojave desert scrub, wet meadow, rivers, and agricultural cropland.

Terrain

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.

Birds

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

Amenities are few; only two restrooms — one with wheelchair access. No drinking water or places to get snacks, and no visitor center.

Access

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.

Tips

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.

Sites nearby

Bowman Reservoir
About 14 miles to the north, on SR 169. Common Loon, American White Pelican. Bird from Bowman Rd. A spotting scope is useful.

Moapa Valley National Wildlife Refuge
Approximately 25 miles to the northwest, off Hwy. 168. Springs form a riparian area in the desert landscape.

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