The Amargosa Basin features the only free-flowing river in the Mojave Desert.

A fragile wildlife sanctuary, the Amargosa Basin is home to one of the highest concentrations of endangered species in the desert Southwest.

The Amargosa Basin is the last refuge of the Amargosa Vole, a critically endangered rodent.

The Amargosa Basin is unique for its abundance of flowing springs that compose the Amargosa Wild and Scenic River—the only free-flowing river in the Mojave Desert. As a result, rare wildlife flourishes along this ribbon of green.

Amargosa Basin
Map of the South Basin

A wet spot in the desert

The Amargosa Wild and Scenic River is fed exclusively by groundwater stored in vast underground aquifers that date back to a time when the desert was a wetter, cooler place. One of the only places in the world where this phenomenon occurs, this “fossil water” pushes up from the earth in springs throughout the area.

Amargosa Vole

Meet the Amargosa Vole

The springs of the Amargosa support vibrant riparian ecosystems, providing a home to many endangered and endemic species. In fact, the Amargosa Basin is the sole habitat for the charismatic and highly endangered Amargosa vole, a cute little rodent that lives in the dense bulrush marshes of Tecopa.

Things to do in the Amargosa Basin


A hike from China Ranch down to the Amargosa Canyon amidst dense mesquite is an unforgettable experience.


Adventurous travelers can explore the area on a scenic network of dirt roads, such as the Chappo Springs loop or the rutted route up to Horsethief Spring.


Wildlife watching is one of the hallmarks of the area, with Tecopa Marsh harboring hundreds of resident and migratory bird species.

*Please remember to follow all applicable rules and regulations, and stay on designated routes in order to protect the desert for everyone to enjoy. These Lands are for all of us. Please do your part.