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Audubon Kelso Creek Sanctuary

Fish and Wildlife Reserve or Sanctuary
A winter scene at Audubon's Kelso Creek Sanctuary. – Alison Sheehey

ADA Accessibility Notes

not accessible

Audubon Kelso Creek Sanctuary was purchased in 2000 to protect riparian habitat along this unique high desert stream. The land includes cottonwood-willow forest surrounded by desert upland Joshua tree woodland on the plateau and pinyon-juniper woodland at the interface with the BLM’s Bright Star Wilderness.

This 156-acre privately owned wildlife sanctuary is 15 miles from Hwy 178 on Kelso Valley Road along Kelso Creek. There is a pass-through gate near the northwestern corner of the property that leads to the creek on the northern edge of the property via a worn footpath but not an improved trail. Please follow in the footsteps of those who have walked before you. The rocky chute where the creek quickly flows downstream is the edge of the property. Please do not go beyond this as it is private property belonging to the neighbors.

The sanctuary is an interesting blend of Mojave and Great Basin Desert flora and offers a diverse and unique vista. On winter mornings the Audubon Kelso Creek Sanctuary is a great place to look for Pinyon Jays in the southern Sierra Nevada. The upland portions of the sanctuary include a large Joshua tree forest that is replete with a glorious carpet of wildflowers in spring. Walking northwest toward the Piute Mountains takes you directly into the BLM’s Bright Star Wilderness and Sequoia National Forest beyond. In March 2011, Audubon transferred an additional 601-acres along Kelso Creek and Piute Mountain Road into the federal wilderness system in order to protect it in perpetuity.

The sanctuary is found on both sides of Kelso Valley Road. Kelso Creek Sanctuary is home to nesting Brown-crested Flycatchers which is the northwestern-most limit of that desert species range. A unique mix of desert, montane, and riparian bird, butterfly, mammal and dragonfly species have been found by Audubon biologists and volunteers.

Please visit the Audubon Kern River Preserve website to learn more about Audubon and nature tourism opportunities in the Kern River Valley.

Pet Friendly Notes

no pets allowed

Recreational Opportunities

Birding, photography, nature watching, botanizing, and butterfly watching. (No camping, fires, hunting or motorized vehicles allowed)

Bird Checklist: Mountain Quail, California Quail, Chukar, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, American White Pelican, Turkey Vulture, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Mourning Dove, Greater Roadrunner, White-throated Swift, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Anna's Hummingbird, Costa's Hummingbird, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Nuttall's Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker,
Western Wood-Pewee, Willow Flycatcher, Hammond's Flycatcher, Gray Flycatcher, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Say's Phoebe, Black Phoebe, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Western Kingbird, Loggerhead Shrike, Cassin's Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Pinyon Jay, Western Scrub-Jay, Common Raven, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, Oak Titmouse, Bushtit, White-breasted Nuthatch, Cactus Wren, Rock Wren, Canyon Wren, Bewick's Wren, House Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Western Bluebird, Hermit Thrush, Le Conte's Thrasher, California Thrasher, European Starling, Orange-crowned Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Townsend's Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Spotted Towhee, California Towhee, Black-chinned Sparrow, Lark Sparrow, Black-throated Sparrow, Sage Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Black-headed Grosbeak, Lazuli Bunting, Western Tanager, Red-winged Blackbird, Brewer's Blackbird, Bullock's Oriole, Scott's Oriole, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, and Lawrence's Goldfinch.


Seasons Accessible

Year round. Sunrise to sunset.


Free, but donations are welcome at the main sanctuary in Weldon.

Nearby Places