Deep Springs Lake Ecological Reserve


The 720-acre Deep Springs Lake Ecological Reserve is located in a remote desert valley east of the White and Inyo Mountain Ranges in Inyo County. The property consists of Deep Springs Lake, a seasonal salt lake typically dry in summer, and wetlands associated with several spring systems around the lake. The springs and associated wetlands provide habitat for the black toad (Anaxyrus exsul) which is endemic to the valley and is a California Threatened and Fully Protected species. The seasonal lake is also frequented by migratory birds including western snowy plover (Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus) a California Species of Special Concern.

For more information, call the Inland Deserts Region's Bishop office at (760) 872-1171.

Recreational Opportunities

Wildlife Viewing Hiking Trails

Activities: wildlife viewing, hiking

NOTE: Visitors are responsible for knowing and complying with all regulations pertaining to the use of Department lands.

Refer to the Public Uses on State and Federal Lands section of the Waterfowl, Upland Game, and Public Use Regulations (PDF) booklet for both statewide and property-specific regulations.

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You may not operate a drone on CDFW Lands without a Special Use Permit.

Area History

The property consists of several patented mining claims although it is unclear to what extent the lakebed was utilized for mineral production since the nearby Owens Lake provided a better and more accessible source of evaporite minerals. It is presumed that the extensive system of levees and ditches around the lake were associated with efforts to improve the land for agriculture, primarily livestock grazing, and to control water to the lakebed for mineral production.

The area was inhabited by the Deep Springs Valley Paiute for thousands of years before Euro-American settlement in the 20th century. This small Native American group was distinct from other Northern Paiute groups in the adjacent Owens and Fish Lake valleys.

The Department acquired the property in 1979, and it was designated as an ecological reserve by the Fish and Game Commission in 2020. The primary purpose for the acquisition of Deep Spring Lake was to protect and manage habitat for black toad and western snowy plover.

Map of Deep Springs Lake ER - click to enlarge in new window
Click to enlarge


Inland Deserts Region (Region 6)

Inyo County

Directions: Hwy 168. Reserve is 20 miles northeast of Big Pine, south of 168 on unmaintained dirt roads. There are no developed trails or facilities at this location.

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