Ride the Refuge

a guy pops a reverse wheeley on his bike in the desert
Nathan Grill gets a good shot at the dry lake bed — the first stop on the 40 mile route. Courtesy of Mark Duncan

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Nevada. Photo by USFWS
Mark Duncan leads the group on the ride through Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. Courtesy of Mark Duncan
  • Start: Crystal, Nevada
  • Route type: Mountain or gravel bikes; not suitable for road bikes
  • Distance: 40 miles, out and back (download the Strava route here)
  • Skill level: Advanced beginner to advanced. Not a good route for children due to distance
  • Elevation gain: Approximately 1,000 feet in elevation gain
  • Time of year: October to April
  • Essential supplies: Food, water, repair supplies, face mask (all federal properties require them)
  • Nice to have: Binoculars
  • Other things to know: Cellphone reception is spotty, and traffic is minimal. Come prepared and tell a friend where you’re going
  • Check the refuge’s website to make sure it’s open to cyclists. Many refuges only allow cyclists in certain areas such as public access roads and others only at certain times of the year to minimize disturbance to wildlife. You can find a refuge near you here.
  • Bring a mask. National wildlife refuges are federal lands which require mask usage when you’re within 6 feet of other people or in federal buildings (bathrooms and water stations included).
  • Refuge riding is often rural riding. Ride at your own risk, and ride with a buddy. Many of the roads at refuges are unpaved and have very little traffic. Bring plenty of supplies to repair flats and get back to your vehicle safely.
Five bike riders riding on a trail in the desert
Riders can expect about 1,000 feet of elevation gain along the route. “The road and climb are very manageable, but there’s some loose, deep sand. Pay attention and choose your lines carefully,” suggests Grill. Courtesy of Mark Duncan
Left: Devils Hole is a tiny cavern that is home to the Devils Hole pupfish. Right: Two Devils Hole pupfish. Photo by USFWS
Kings Pool is one of the many freshwater springs at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge . Visitors can view the spring by walking along the boardwalk at the Point of Rocks trail. Be sure to secure your bike at the trailhead as bikes are not allowed on trails or the boardwalks, only public access roads. Photo by USFWS
a white stone cabin in a desert
An old, stone cabin built in 1896 by Jack Longstreet remains on the refuge. Leave your bike at the trailhead and take the short walk to view the cabin. Photo by USFWS
a lake featuring crystal blue water
Crystal Reservoir is a photographer’s dream landscape: Bright blue water against the desert blues and yellows. Photo by USFWS




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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

We’re dedicated to the conservation, protection and enhancement of fish, wildlife and plants, and their habitats.

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