Living in Las Vegas, we saw all the wild nightlife — and daytime pool life — anyone needs to see in a lifetime, but real wildlife was elusive.
We saw our first coyote, up close and personal — in a parking lot.
On desert hikes, we saw gambel’s quail, real roadrunners, rabbits, and lizards of all kinds, but missed the Mojave animals everyone assured us were common: Wild burros.
Locals raved about the wild burros of Las Vegas, but we didn’t spot a single one on our weekly hikes in the desert.
It took a a year of hiking Red Rock Canyon, on easy trails (Moenkopi), moderate trails (Calico Hills) and strenuous trails (Turtlehead Peak), before we saw anything four-legged.
We saw plenty of evidence that the burros were about (watch your step in Oak Creek Canyon), usually next to patches of water in spring. By early summer, water disappears in 120+ temps.
We heard burro-like rustling in the brush along three-mile Pine Creek Canyon trail. The burros definitely were traveling Red Rock’s dry riverbeds.
In true Vegas fashion, however, it took a car for us to see wild burros in the desert.
We were driving the 13-mile, paved road that winds through the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, trying to decide which trail to take, and lamenting our failure to see the burros.
Something moved on a ridge above us, silhouetted in morning sun.
We followed the road to the ridge, and found a cluster of the shaggy creatures, feeding close to the road. Another car had stopped, and the photographer was advancing quickly enough that the shy burros were moving away.