Digital-Desert : Mojave Desert
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Ecology: Desert Wildlife
Watchable Wildlife Areas

Haiwee Mule Deer Winter Range

Description

This area on the edge of the Owens Valley in the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains was designated as a Watchable Wildlife site opportunities to view a portion of the East Monache mule deer herd. As winter moves in, deer move down from the mountains to the Haiwee, Cottonwood and Long Valley winter ranges in the valley bottom, at about 4,000 feet above sea level. Here they can forage on diverse grasses and forbs and find water in hidden springs.

The largest of these three winter ranges, Haiwee runs about 30 miles along the base of the Sierras between Olancha Creek and Five Mile Canyon. About 600-700 deer spend there winters here. Sizable numbers of deer move into a series of major canyons that extend upward from the desert floor, and move down to the desert flat to forage during the early morning and late evening, and throughout many nights.

Animals you may see here

Most of the deer wintering here are Inyo mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus inyoensis).

While deer viewing is the main attraction here, visitors may also see raptors such as golden eagles, prairie falcons, northern harriers and red-tailed hawks.

Viewing tips for this area
  • Severe winter weather drives more deer further down from the surrounding mountains, making for better viewing opportunities. During mild winters, fewer deer come down to the Haiwee winter range, and viewing is not as good.
  • Mule deer usually begin to arrive on the Haiwee range by mid-November each year, and some stay until mid-April or mid-May. The largest concentration - with some groups of 100 or more - is usually from December to February.
  • Early morning and late evening are best times to see deer, as they work their way out of nearby canyons to forage on the desert flats.
  • View from the roadside - pull off onto wide shoulders. A small parking area and interpretive kiosk are planned.
  • Bring binoculars or spotting scopes for the best view.
  • Be sure to see tips for "Ultimate Wildlife Watching."
How to get here

From the Los Angeles area and other points south: Take Highway 395 or Highway 14 north to where they meet. Take Highway 395 north from that junction about 32 miles. Turn left (west) onto Haiwee Canyon Road. Drive 1.3 miles west to viewing area.

From Bishop and points north: Take 395 south; five miles past Olancha, turn right (west) onto Sage Flat Road. Drive 1.3 miles to viewing area.

Size: About 37,000 acres.

ecology: wildlife - plants - geography: places - MAPS - map/sat - roads & trails: route 66 - old west - communities - weather - book store
ghost towns - gold mines - parks & public lands: wilderness - native culture - history - geology: natural features - glossary - comments
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