June is National Rivers Month, and we’re closing it out with a feature on the stunning Amargosa River. Over 175 miles long and flowing from Las Vegas to Death Valley, this special river is protected as part of the California Desert Conservation Lands for its unique characteristics and habitat:
- It’s the only free-flowing river in California’s Mojave Desert. It’s nicknamed the “hide-and-seek river” because it flows below ground in Nevada and surfaces in California, finally ending in Death Valley.
- The river is fed exclusively by groundwater stored in vast underground aquifers that date back to a time when the desert was a wetter, cooler place. This is one of the few places in the world where this phenomenon occurs.
- Archeological sites indicate that Indigenous peoples have lived along the Amargosa for more than 10,000 years. The region includes traditional homelands of the Western Shoshone, the Southern Paiute, and the Chemehuevi.
- It’s designated as a National Wild and Scenic River because of the critical water it provides in one of the hottest and driest places in the world. This includes habitat for at least 50 wildlife and plant species that are only found along the Amargosa, including the endangered Amargosa vole.
- Visitors to the region can enjoy hiking and bird watching within rugged and physically challenging terrain. In springtime, the surrounding Amargosa Basin offers spectacular wildflower viewing.
Explore the Amargosa virtually via a member of our Friends Grassroots Network, Amargosa Conservancy: amargosaconservancy.org.
Sections of the Amargosa River in California. Top photo by Jesse Pluim, bottom photo by Bob Wick (Bureau of Land Management).
The endangered Amargosa vole, which lives nowhere else on earth. Photo by Don Preisler, U.C. Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
China Ranch Date Farm Trail near the Amargosa River. Photo by Jesse Pluim (Bureau of Land Management).