Nevada wild burros can be seen all over Red Rock Canyon during the spring season. On any given sunny afternoon they usually seek shade near the canyon walls or under big trees. Since there are only a few big trees in the residential areas of Red Rock Canyon, the spotting these wild animals is fairly easy to accomplish. The shade trees over by the parking area at the old Bonnie Springs Ranch are a reliable sweet spot, so this is a good place to start!
African Burros were first brought to Nevada by the Spanish explorers and most were cut loose when they departed. Later when the gold rush of the mid 1800s began, the Nevada prospectors imported burros by the hundreds. By the time the gold mines played out in the early 1900s, there was no more need for these working animals. The burros were then cut loose and set free to live in the wild. The African savannah heritage made it easy for burros to adapt to the harsh desert terrain of the American Southwest. A burro can go for several days without water, so they do quite well in southern Nevada.
It is important to remember that wild burros truly are wild animals, even though they look tame. Feeding wild burros or wild horses can result in a steep fine, so it pays to not fall for the begging they sometimes do. Petting burros or getting too close to them is not really a good idea either. Wild burros will bite into bright shiny objects or anything that resembles food, so getting too close can result in shirt collars and ear rings being torn clean off! A burro can also kick hard enough to send a person into next Tuesday, so the old expression “kicks like a mule” does hold water.
Wild burros have a habit of stopping to stare into the distance for what seems like forever. They notice when someone who is viewing them is distracted and they do use the opportunity to sneak up real quiet like. I was changing camera lenses while sitting in my car when a wild burro snuck up and started rubbing its head on the rear view mirror. The burro then went into a blank stare that seemed to last an eternity and the animal refused to move. I was held hostage by the stubborn burro till it decided to meander over to its next victim in the gravel parking lot!
When a burro approaches while sitting in a car, it is best to roll the window up before the burro has a chance to stick his head into the cabin. Once they get their head in the window, a person can consider themselves stuck until the burro decides to move on and that can take quite some time. Anything that interests the wild burro inside the car will be bitten into and munched on. Cameras, bags of chips and the car head rest are prime items of interest. Once a burro bites into something, it does not let loose anytime soon, so it is best to avoid the situation altogether.
The springtime wildflower bloom season is a good time of year for doing some wild burro photography. The burros have a field day munching on the new green growth and they come out into the open without fear. In late spring and early summer, the burro foals can be seen with the mares. The fuzzy furry baby burros truly are really cute looking critters to see!
Red Rock Canyon is located on the west side of Las Vegas and it can be accessed from Blue Diamond Road or Charleston Boulevard. Spring is a great time of year to visit this scenic canyon, because the desert wildflowers will be in bloom. Horseback rentals and hiking are highly recommended in Red Rock Canyon while the cool springtime weather lasts. Be sure to bring a good camera because the burros are the star of the show!
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