Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Nevada Beyond the Neon: Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge


         Can you tell a ruby from a garnet?  I can't, and neither could early settlers who inhabited this sweeping valley in Northeastern Nevada.  This case of misidentification was responsible for the places now called Ruby Valley, Ruby Mountains, and Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

         More than 200 springs feed Ruby Lake's 37,632 acres, supplemented by snowmelt from the mountains bordering the refuge.  The marshes are host to nesting sandhill cranes, trumpeter swans, and white-faced ibis, egrets and herons.  Songbirds inhabit the brushy areas around the springs, and raptors patrol the marshes and upland meadows in search of a meal.  The refuge serves both the Pacific and the Central migration corridors and thousands of ducks fly through during spring and fall.
         Dikes around the marshes support monster trout from the state run fish hatchery.

Tim fly-fishes the dikes around the marsh.

A Yellow-headed Blackbird sings from the reeds.

Snowy Egret.

A Great Blue Heron,  hoping to catch a fish.

White-faced Ibis stroll the marsh.

         The red stones found here were actually garnets and some of them still exist in the area.  If you go in search of the precious stones be aware that most of them are only a few millimeters in diameter.  But whether you're seeking garnets—or just one of the loveliest spots in North America—don't miss this gem of a place.

South Ruby Campground, nestled at the base of the
Ruby Mountains, is the perfect base camp for exploration
of the surrounding area.


  1. Beautiful pictures as always, Rita. The sky is so clear blue, wish you could have put in some more!

    From my experience, I can say that repeat visits make you see and detect many more birds in marshlands.
    And it looks like you have started on a brandnew NBN series :)

    1. Hi Soumyendu,

      I think that clear blue sky is because of the air's low humidity. Nevada is our nation's driest state.
      And yep, I've started on a new series. Look for many more of Nevada's hidden gems in the NBN series!

  2. Absolutely stunning photos, Rita! If forced to choose a favorite, it would be the one of Tim fly-fishing at the marsh. That photo could proudly be displayed in any number of places, including the cover of a national magazine such as Field and Stream!

    Thanks for another splendid posting in your series "Nevada Beyond the Neon".


    1. Thanks, John!
      I like the fly-fishing photo too. Maybe I should pitch it to a national magazine!?
      It was such a peaceful place to cast a line; while Tim fished I bird-watched and listened to birds calling from the marshes. A wonderful place—I'd love to go back.

  3. Oh, I know the ruby marshes well. My first husband and I traveled there often to camp, birdwatch, and fish. But, as always, you informed me. I had no idea how the area was named. I especially appreciate your photographs as I could compare them to my memories of those same birds in that same setting. You took me back to a happy time in my life with this post, Rita.

    1. Janet, I'm so pleased that these Nevada posts bring back happy memories for you.
      And I'm pretty sure that you're the only other person I know who has been to Ruby Lake NWR!
      Thanks as always for your comments!