Viewing Wildlife in Nevada

Rugged mountain ranges, lush wetland valleys, and the hottest desert in the continent. Nevada is home to diverse landscapes—and a wildlife population that’s just as intriguing.

In northern Nevada, you’ll encounter the Great Basin’s sweeping valleys and massive ranges, as well as towering, aspen-studded peaks poking into the alpine zone. At the other end of the scale, southern Nevada’s Mojave Desert boasts some of the lowest, hottest, and driest conditions in North America. These regions feature thousands of creatures—some found nowhere else on Earth—while others pass through annually. Best of all, it doesn’t take much to find them.

Whether you’re looking for a quick beyond-the-Strip day trip or a true off-the-grid, back-to-nature experience, outdoor recreation opportunities abound just north of Las Vegas in the largest wildlife management area in the Lower 48. Even closer to your resort, you’ll find a birders paradise at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve. Cruising around southern Nevada, be on the lookout for desert tortoises, reptiles, jackrabbits, rare pupfish species, and bighorn sheep roaming freely in their natural habitats.


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car forest at night

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Whether it’s the newest item on your bucket list or the best wrong turn you ever took, whichever corner of this state you venture to, you’re bound to uncover the kind of unexpected encounters, memorable characters, and only-in-Nevada experiences that make this place so damn special. Get your hands on stunning images, surprising stories, colorful characters, do-before-you-die events, and beyond. And just to sweeten the deal, in addition to sending you our official Nevada Magazine & Visitor Guide, we’ll throw in our swanky state map, too.

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Meet the Locals: Animals Native to Nevada

Further north, keep an eye out for the wild mustangs and burros that roam Nevada’s basin and range topography (the wild donkeys give plenty of friendly nods to the Silver State’s history and heritage). Creatures like Rocky Mountain elk, mule deer, minks, foxes, and more are drawn to Great Basin National Park—one of the darkest and quietest places in the Continental U.S.—where they can thrive in a true nocturnal environment.

Meanwhile, habitat management in northwestern Nevada has restored ideal habitats for the finicky sage grouse to prosper–and even saved the pronghorn antelope from extinction altogether.

No matter where Nevada’s creature scene carries you, there’s likely to be a national wildlife area providing globally important refuge to millions of Nevada animals and creatures at the end of the road (or along the way). Let’s get a little wild, shall we?

Types of Wild Animals in Nevada

So, what types of Nevada animals can you expect to see when visiting? Lots, actually. Wild animals in Nevada come in all shapes and sizes. Take the desert tortoise, for example, which serves as a symbol of resilience and endurance as it roams the lower desert regions. Beyond the desert, other animals live in Nevada’s highest reaches: the magnificent desert bighorn sheep, who showcase their impressive climbing and navigation skills as they zig and zag through the mountains.

Wildlife, Nevada Wildlife, Nevada Bighorns, Bighorn Sheep, Desert Bighorns
Desert Bighorn Sheep
Nevada Mountain Lion, Mountain Lion, Nevada Wildlife, Wildlife Nevada

Did we mention that Nevada accounts for a majority of the population of wild horses in the United States? Descendants of Spanish mustangs, these horses roam freely across vast stretches of land, adding a touch of untamed beauty to the landscape. Mule deer gracefully navigate the state’s forests and open plains, while elusive mountain lions silently stalk their prey. In remote desert areas, you might encounter the fascinating gila monster, a venomous lizard renowned for its beautifully unique patterns. When it comes to North American wildlife, Nevada has a little bit of everything to offer.


The only thing cuter than a burro? A baby burro—and we know you’re gonna want a pic. Whether you give resident Ely “wildcat” Dirt Jr. a good head scratch or cross paths with Mojave Max—Nevada’s official “spokestortoise”—we want to follow along. Tag #NVWildlife and #TravelNevada to be featured here.

Making sure that fish swim away on their own volition is crucial for the health of our beloved trout. Trout who linger in your hands may not be ready to face the current and can die if pushed into the water. Always point fish up stream and wait for them to swim away. 
#truckeeriver #flyfishing #flyfishingjunkie #fishing #onthefly #esn #euronymphing #trout #rainbowtrout #browntrout #nymphing #troutfishing #palmmeat #renoflyshop  #catchandrelease #fishinglife  #nature #flyfish #trophytrout #flyfishing #troutflies #flyfishingaddict #onthefly #renotahoe #palmmeat #nevada #nevadaflyfishing #guidedflyfishing  #nevadaoutdoors #gripngrin #tightlinenymphing #barbless
Roadrunner in all his glory 
#wanderstarr #roadrunner #tulewash #nevada #nevadadesert #exploring #exploremore #explorenevada #desertlife #desert #wildlife #offthebeatenpath #socialdistancing #quarentinelife #wildflowers
My wife loves birding, and we I have never been out to Stillwater wildlife refuge, so we took the whole family that lives in the area and headed out there yesterday. It made for a long day, I'm not going to lie! But boy it was pretty epic. At first I didn't think we were seeing enough wildlife to justify the trip, but then we hit the jackpot. It got a little bit scary because the wind kicked up huge clouds of alkali dust off the dry lake beds and sent them blasting towards us at high speed, but we got into the car in time so it was okay.
Those ears!!!😃 Nevada Jackrabbit. #nevadaphotography #nevadaphotographer #nevadawildlife #nevadamagazine #onlyinnevada #nevadadesert #desertwildlife #wildlife #wildlifephotography #wildlifephotographer #nature #naturelovers #naturelover #naturephotography #naturephotographer #jackrabbit #nikon200500 #nikon850 #nikonwildlife #natgeoyourshot #natgeowildlife #lakemeadnationalrecreationarea #natureaddict #nevada
Mountain Bluebird, taken last winter at Red Rock Canyon.  #bird #birds #redrockcanyon #bluebird #birdsofinstagram #nevada #ndowok #naturalnevada #onlyinnv #travelnevada #birdfreaks #raw_birds #best_birds_of_ig #color #wildlifephotography #wildlife #canonphotography #canon #canonusa #nature #naturephotography #naturegeek #naturelover #waycoolshots #audobonsociety #photography #bird_brilliance
Finding my first desert tortoise a couple weekends ago made me so happy. A lot of hard work went into this photo! Mojave desert tortoises are the only native testudine of the Mojave desert (testudine is the order of shelled reptiles consisting of turtles tortoises and terrapins). The desert is not an easy place for tortoises to live. They spend around 95% of their lives underground and can sometimes go 6 months without eating before needing to resurface to forage for food, making them difficult to find. They live in self-dug burrows to survive ground temperatures exceeding 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Another way they survive extreme heat is to dig impressions in the ground and then return to the puddle after a rain to drink. However it should be noted that they absorb the majority of the water in their diet from the grasses and cacti that they eat. I just found my second desert tortoise over the weekend, a much younger one, and it also had made a mess of itself - sporting green and red lips from munching grasses, cacti and flowers. These creatures are incredible. They’re intelligent, live up to 80 years old, and are truly a species we want to protect. Not only do they face pressure from droughts and predators (their shells don’t harden until a very long time after birth, sometimes more than a year, so birds wreck them), but they also suffer greatly from habitat loss. Desert tortoises are considered threatened under the United States federal endangered species act so if you see one in AZ, Cali, Utah, or AZ, don’t disturb them and PLEASE look out for them when driving on dirt roads. They can overheat in the sun if you block their path, so I chose not to spend too much time with this individual and made sure it waddled off the road to safety before I left. These animals are just so cool and interesting. They bring joy to my heart whenever I see them. Majestic, wise, adorable, focused, docile, and goofy af. Just livin their life in the desert - stumbling around and munching on vegetation. I absolutely love them.
Bald Eagle. It seems like there are more and more bald eagles in Southern Nevada every year! This one was not to far from Vegas! 🙂#nevadaphotography #nevadaphotographer #nevadawildlife #nevadamagazine #nevadadesert #wildlife #wildlifephotography #wildlife_perfection #wildlifephotographer #baldeagle #birdsofprey #birdphotography #birdphoto #nikon200500 #nikonwildlife #nikonwildlifephotography #nikon850 #natgeoyourshot #natgeowildlife
Beautiful pair of Hummingbirds up at the Lee Canyon meadows area. They were a lot of fun to photograph and capture in the same shot together.
#photography #jarrodamesphotography #nikon #nikonusa #nikonnofilter #naturephotography #hummingbird #hummingbirds #leecanyon #lasvegas #nevada #nvmag #travelnevada #birds #wildlifephotography #wildlife
Wild horses doing wild horse stuff @TravelNevada #wildlifephotography #ThePhotoHour #on1pics @ON1photo
Its easy to get distracted by the mega fauna. The larger mammals and birds that inhabit the desert/low alpine. But, there's a plentiful amount of reptiles that are ripe for photography as well. Its kind of like the whole