ASH MEADOWS: CRYSTAL SPRING
& CRYSTAL RESERVOIR
with 3 photos added in 2008
One of the nicest springs in the Ash Meadows national Wildlife Refuge is Crystal Spring. It is close to Crystal Reservoir, but Crystal Reservoir has its own sources, the Crystal Spring outflow flows off into the desert and supports a sizable area of lush vegetation and animal life. Nearby associated seeps also support lush vegetation. So, let's get to the pictures.
This is the mileage table on the road between Crystal Spring and Devils Hole, looking northwest toward the hills above Devils Hole. The Refuge Office is where Crystal Spring is:
On the way to Crystal Spring one passes wetlands. areas where water seeps to the surface but does not flow out like a spring. Bushes, grass, an occasional tree and reeds suck water up as fast as it will come to the surface:
Once one gets to the Crystal Spring area, one finds a boardwalk that protects this fragile area from becoming just a dusty path:
I had the occasion to come back here in March of 2008 and this is what the path looked like then:
Note the bunchgrass and saltgrass, with salt from evaporating waters all around:
But also note that creosote bush, mesquite and ash trees are plentiful along the way (we have to have ash trees and grass, or it couldn't be called Ash Meadows, could it?):
The spring's outflow is easy to see: follow the path of dense vegetation:
The little creek has remarkable clear water in it (Crystal is a reference to the clarity of the water):
Jumping ahead in time to 2008, there is a big project underway to remove invasive and introduced species and let the native vegetation take over again. What this means is that, temporarily at least, you can't trace the creek by its vegetative shroud:
Finally, the spring itself! It is worth several pictures: note the tree branches hanging over the water. Hard to remember where we are!
I don't know why this next picture came out as it did, I was trying to get a closer view of the source of the incoming water:
Jumping ahead to 2008 again, there was much less vegetation at the bottom of the spring itself. I doubt if this is part of the non-native species removal project. But it may have been a direct resukt of it since in the previous photos there were tree branches all around the spring and now there are very few, meaning less shade and less organic material falling into the water. There were still many tiny pupfish to be seen (too small for photos like these):
There is some limited vegetation along the shore.
Water comes out too warm for fish and some water plants, but just around the bend they both take up residence:
After taking in the ambience of Crystal Spring and Crystal Creek for a while, it is time to move southeast about a mile and see Crystal Reservoir.
As we leave to go, a local creature, a zebratail lizard, makes some noise just to get its picture taken:
Here is a southerly view with Eagle Mountain to the left, marking the end of the Amargosa Valley:
Views include a view to the west where the Funeral Range divides the Amargosa Valley from Death Valley (3x-zoom, in case you wonder about such things):
A view to the northeast and east where the Spring Range lies beyond the low hills dividing this valley from the Pahrump Valley:
A southwest view also show the Crystal Marsh area in the distance:
Crystal Marsh has another lake, but this one surrounded by marshland rather than manicured beach sand (Crystal Reservoir is an impoundment with a dam, so it gets lots of maintence and is the only place where swimming is allowed).
Point of Rocks, another spring area in Ash Meadows, is next on our list of places to visit.
1. Carpenter Canyon, lower portion
2. Carpenter Canyon, middle portion
3. Carpenter Canyon, upper portion
4. Devils Hole
5. Ash Meadows, Crystal Springs and Lakes (This Page)
6. Ash Meadows, Point of Rocks
7. Stewart Valley and back to Pahrump Valley
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