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Amargosa Valley
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Located in the southern region of Nevada, the Amargosa Valley Destination is composed primarily of desert lands. The destination’s southwestern boundary is the border shared between the states of California and Nevada, while the north and east are bounded by other parts of Nevada. Amargosa Valley, the destination’s namesake, is an unincorporated town that occupies land approximately 88 miles northwest of Nevada’s most prominent city, Las Vegas, which is found outside the borders of the destination.[1] One of the most popular attractions in the Amargosa Valley Destination, especially among those who enjoy outdoor activities, is Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. Some of the pastimes that can be engaged in at the refuge include photography, hunting, and wildlife viewing. The site also has a visitor center with interactive learning stations.[4] Tourists who are drawn to the historic aspect of places may enjoy visiting Tonopah, a historically significant town near the heart of the Amargosa Valley Destination. Much of Tonopah’s history pertains to the discovery of silver deposits in the town and how that has contributed to the economy during the 20th century.[8]

What Amargosa Valley is known for

The Amargosa Valley Destination encompasses a portion of southern Nevada. The border shared between California and Nevada also serves as the destination’s southern and western boundaries. Desert lands are the primary component of the destination, with a few fairly small towns scattered throughout it, which are as follows: Tonopah, Goldfield, Silver Peak, Luning, Mina, Hawthorne, Manhattan, Lida, Dyer, Bonnie Claire, Beatty, Mercury, and Amargosa Valley. The latter of these previously listed towns is the destination’s namesake—an unincorporated town located in the southernmost region of the destination. Amargosa Valley extends 98.66 square miles, and it was named as such after the Amargosa River, which courses through the valley.[1]

Amargosa Valley is currently home to an estimated population of 1,455 residents, 51.82% of which are reportedly male, while the remaining 48.18% are female.[2] Many of those who visit Amargosa Valley are in the area to tour Las Vegas—a prominent city in Nevada outside of the destination—which is about a 90-minute drive from the town. However, a few attractions can be found within Amargosa Valley as well, including Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge and the Big Dune OHV area. The town is used mainly as an overnight stop for travelers who are on their way to Death Valley Rally, considering that Amargosa Valley is situated an approximate 25-minute drive from the eastern entrance of Death Valley National Park.[3]

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is a particular site that may pique the interest of outdoor enthusiasts. The refuge occupies land to the south of Amargosa Valley and is notable for being “one of the first in the United States designated a Ramsar site.” Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is also reportedly known for being the largest remaining oasis in the Mojave Desert. The site features a visitor center with interactive learning stations for tourists to learn more about the refuge.[4]


The aforementioned Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is a notable natural area in the Amargosa Valley Destination, as the site comprises an ecosystem with the proper habitat to support “at least 24 plants and animals found nowhere else in the world.” Located in the Mojave Desert, Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge was acquired by the Conservancy in 1983 as a prevention for its conversion into a 20,000-lot subdivision. The Conservancy ultimately protected over 20 flora and fauna species that reportedly have not been discovered anywhere else. Twelve major spring systems were also preserved as a result of the Conservancy’s purchase. These spring systems date back nearly 10,000 years, serving as “fossil waters” throughout their history.[6]

In addition to having several habitats for multiple wildlife species, Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is said to be a major discharge point for a sizable underground aquifer water system. This water system extends roughly 100 miles to the northeast, and a variety of mesic habitats are evident in over 30 seeps and springs. The refuge is characterized by a considerable number of stream channels and wetlands. While the northern and western portions of Ash Meadows consist of remnants of the Carson Slough, the southern fraction is composed of sand dunes.[7]

Amargosa Valley typically experiences its highest temperatures from June to September, during which the average monthly highs generally range from 94°F to 103°F. The cooler season lasts from October to March as the average high drops between 30°F and 48°F. Precipitation is a relatively uncommon occurrence in the Amargosa Valley, though the yearly average for rainfall in the area is said to be about 4.34 inches.[5]


Amargosa Valley’s history dates back to 1906 when the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad advanced through the valley until 1940. The railroad was directed through this portion of southern Nevada on account of borax mining operations. It wasn’t until the 1950s, however, that modern development began to take place. In 1963, electric power was made available to residents of Amargosa Valley. More recently, the city of Las Vegas—located outside the boundaries of the Amargosa Valley Destination—has drawn a considerable amount of people to Amargosa Valley who have become new residents of the town.[1]

Another town in the destination that bears historical significance is Tonopah, which initially began as a Native American campground. In 1900, a man by the name of Jim Butler discovered an outcropping in what is now known as Tonopah that was supposedly “heavily laced with silver.” Butler took many samples of this silver to an assayer who informed him that these samples were simply iron with no significant value; however, Butler was still convinced that this discovery was of much greater worth. Soon after, Tasker Oddie, who later became the governor of Nevada, visited Butler’s ranch and noticed the samples. Oddie offered to take these samples to a different assayer, and Butler agreed to this. It was later found that the samples did, in fact, have higher value, as the assay indicated a value as high as $600 per ton. Word spread about this profitable discovery, drawing a relatively high quantity of prospectors to Tonopah. Throughout 1902, the economy started to develop, and eventually, a 60-stamp mill with a capacity of 500 tons was constructed in Tonopah. This mill became “one of the country’s best equipped and most efficient silver cyanide mills” over the course of its years of operation from 1912 to 1923.[8]