We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Wildlife guides / tours

Cardiff, United...
Level Contributor
5 posts
14 reviews
Save Topic
Wildlife guides / tours

Hi,

I am spending two days in Death Valley at the end of September (Furnace Creek). Are there any wildlife guides or tours that can help me see as much of the local wildlife as possible? I am particularly interested in birds and mammals. Thanks.

Dave P

Adirondack, New York
Level Contributor
3,968 posts
90 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Wildlife guides / tours

I wouldn't count on much wildlife in September. Our experience is always in the spring and in late March and during northern bird migration we’re always very successful and could see lots of birds and twice we showed other visitors three specific areas where birds stop over. We helped them identify several species and they got to add two to their life list. During all my visits I never saw a licensed guide leading bird tours in Death Valley NP. Check with park rangers maybe they have a bird walk but don’t count on it in September. Hopefully you’ll be lucky during your trip. www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/birds.htm

observation platform on the golf course is just a short walk away from the ranch. Go there very early, right at the sunrise we always see a huge number of birds. Bring your binoculars and a spotting scope is very helpful.

Adirondack, New York
Level Contributor
3,968 posts
90 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Wildlife guides / tours

Dave, if you want to see fossilized birds you should add Fossil Butte National Monument in WY to your itinerary. Amazing! http://www.nps.gov/fobu/index.htm

Edited: 02 September 2012, 22:25
Napa, CA
Destination Expert
for Napa
Level Contributor
7,644 posts
22 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Wildlife guides / tours

Last time I visited DVNP, I saw a coyote up by Scotty's Castle and saw some wild burros in Saline Valley. I've also seen a couple of rattlers over the years and the place is crawling with kangaroo rats if you hunt for them at night.

Of course, the place is famous for its pup fish. In summer, it's best to head to the higher elevations for birding. There is a fall migration that comes through the Park. An exception is Saratoga Spring which often has a nice selection of water birds.

If you want to see big horns, you need to go into the most rugged areas. There are better places to go searching for some. One place that I've seen them frequently is along the Colorado River below Hoover Dam in Black Canyon. This is also an excellent place for birding.

birdandhike.com/Wilderness/…_Black.htm

There are companies that do kayak and rafting trips through here. They leave out of Vegas.

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
Level Contributor
15,212 posts
49 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Wildlife guides / tours

September is still summer off-peak season, when there are no ranger programs and guided walks. Those resume in mid-October. They can include talks, nature or history walks, caravans, or Q&A sessions. Visitor centers and resorts will have the schedule of events, which varies from week to week,

At the visitor center, you can get info sheets on the creatures of Death Valley. There are separate ones for mammals (a specific one for coyotes), birds (also a checklist), reptiles, and pupfish. Look in the big master file that contains all the park flyers available to visitors, then ask at the desk for copies. The bookstore at the Visitor Center has a big selection of books, pictures, and videos, including wildlife.

Places likes the bird marsh at the golf course, and I do too. This is at Furnace Creek Ranch. The marsh is not natural, but is the resort's septic ponds that have been turned into a waterfowl refuge. To get there, turn in for the Visitor Center but take the airport side road. The observation deck is just inside the golf course boundary next to a glass-front signboard that you will see on the south side of the airport road. The signboard has flyers about Death Valley wildlife. If you reach the landing field, you've passed it. There is some space to pull off the road near the signboard.

If you are staying at Furnace Creek campground (which may or may not be open by then) or the Ranch, you can walk to the bird marsh. BTW, this is the only place on the golf course where non-golfers can walk around without "trespassing." There is a deck with benches, but no shade, so bring a hat and some water.

Pupfish are estivating now. Their active season is very short, from early to late spring. March to early May are good times to look for them at Salt Creek, but the actual timing depends on weather, how hot the water is and when the salt content is too high. However, a trip to Salt Creek is still fascinating, because it’s a perennial oasis in the bottom of the hottest place in the Western Hemisphere, even if the stream is dry. You can usually see birds, reptiles, insects, and an occasional coyote. There is always green plant life; taste the pickleweed buds and see why the ancient inhabitants used it to season their food.

The Sand Dunes are full of wildlife, but much of it is nocturnal. During the day, you can see birds, lizards, and insects, and maybe a coyote. If you go early in the morning, before the wind picks up or many people have walked around, you can see the tracks of nighttime wanderers, including birds, coyotes, kit foxes, reptiles, and beetles. The sand is so fine that beetles that look like a black olive with legs leave footprints resembling zippers. A rare treat is a sidewinder trail. Reptiles have no internal body “thermostat,” so this special rattlesnake protects itself by moving in springing motions, like a Slinky toy, putting down only small patches of skin at a time. Its tracks look like a series of wide S shapes.

Depending on your itinerary, another place that might interest you is Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, on Stateline Road between Pahrump and Death Valley Junction. This is a desert marsh. The endangered Devil’s Hole pupfish lives here, but their habitat is protected and is off limits to visitors. Several pupfish species live in the U.S. Southwest, and they are all distant cousins. Eons ago there was one species around the entire Mojave Desert, until Earth became warmer and the vast inland seas dried up, leaving small isolated bodies of water (some intermittent). The surviving fishes evolved to adapt to wherever they were trapped, eventually becoming separate species. Now the Salt Creek, Devil’s Hole, Saratoga Springs, Owens Valley, and other pupfishes can survive only in their own habitat, because of the differences in elevation, climate, water salinity and other chemistry, vegetation, algae, and other environmental factors. Ash Meadows is lightly visited, but you’ll find some exhibits, a visitor center that may not always be open, and trails.

Cardiff, United...
Level Contributor
5 posts
14 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Wildlife guides / tours

Thanks for all the really full and informative replies. I am looking forward to it!

6. Re: Wildlife guides / tours

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 06 October 2013, 10:17
Get answers to your questions about Death Valley National...