Ash Meadows Trip
Leaders – Mignon Slentz and Glenn Shaw
Trip Report by Mignon Slentz • Photos by Mignon Slentz, Julie Smith and Barbara Midlikoski
Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge was formed in 1984 to protect over 30 endemic species of plants and animals, specifically the Devil’s Hole pupfish that were put on the endangered species list in 1963. Participants were Ed Jack, Pat Nelson, Marian Johns, Ron Ross, Nancy Maclean, Barb and Ron Midlikoski, Ron Lipari, Bill and Julie Smith, Craig Baker, Bob Peltzman, Joaquin Slentz, Bob and Sue Jaussaud, Bruce and Shelly Barnett.
Ash Meadows is the largest remaining oasis in the Mojave Desert. The crystal clear blue-green water comes from melted ice from the last ice age and is know as fossil water. We visited only several of the 40 springs on the 24,000 acres that together produce over 10,000 gallons of water a minute.
Point of Rocks consists of several springs with Kings being the largest. The half mile loop trail is an easy pleasant walk along a wooden boardwalk where we got our first look at the tiny pupfish that are under 2” in length. The males are blue and the females green.
Devil’s Hole Spring, our next stop, is actually managed by the Death Valley National Park. It is a water filled fault with a temperature of a constant 93 degrees. The hole has only been explored down to 500’. The pupfish live in the upper 80’ and have a lifespan of 10-14 months.
The entire spring has a gate and barbed wire surrounding it to deter vandalism.
We stopped for a look at Crystal Reservoir which is one of the few places you can swim in the wetlands, but beware of “swimmer’s itch.”
Our next stop took us to Longstreet Springs and Cabin. Jack Longstreet built the rock cabin in the 1890s. The elements took their toll on the structure which was restored in 1980 using 95% of the original stones. We ended our trip at the Visitor’s Center and had lunch at the picnic area. Some chose to head back to town while the rest of us took the .9 mile boardwalk loop to see Crystal Springs. We finally got to see the famed blue-green waters bubbling up from the spring’s source.
Early spring is a good time to visit Ash Meadows. There are over 300 species of birds, along with bighorn sheep and bobcats that come for water. It is a popular stop over for many migrating birds as well. ~ Mignon