Lytle Ranch

Treasures of the Mojave Desert

Why You Should Visit
Permanent springs flow here in the Beaver Dam Wash’s otherwise intermittent course. The property is an oasis in the Mojave desert that sustained early pioneer families and supports numerous rare species today.

About 45 miles northwest of St. George, Utah.

Open year-round, dawn to dusk. Reservations are strongly recommended. 

462 acres

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
Permanent water flows here in the Beaver Dam Wash’s otherwise intermittent course.  For centuries, the desert oasis hosted itinerant use by indigenous peoples. The areas unique weather patterns and setting make it home to numerous species found here, but nowhere else in Utah. The Conservancy purchased the property in 1985, and in 1986 resold the land to Brigham Young University, establishing it as a field research station and wildlife preserve.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
Thanks to the cooperative effort by the Conservancy, BYU, and Dixie College, the Preserve has been permanently protected. The preserve is now owned and managed by BYU, see “Plan Your Visit” for more information.

What to See: Plants
There are three main desert vegetation floristic zones, named for the dominant plants in each: cottonwood-ash riparian, catclaw acacia-mistletoe-desert willow terrace and Joshua tree-cholla-blackbrush-ambrosia upland. You can also find wild petunia and desert shrub.

What to See: Animals
Lytle Ranch supports a wealth of wildlife, including the great blue heron, Virgin River spinedace, speckled spindace and desert sucker. You can also see desert tortoise, gila monster and night lizard. More than 20 species at Lytle Ranch are found nowhere else in Utah except in Washington County.

Conditions are often extreme. Spring may arrive anytime from January to mid-March. Most precipitation falls from late summer into early winter, frequently in short, intense storms that may result in flash floods. Yearly temperatures range from 0 to more than 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

How to Prepare for Your Visit
Contact BYU directly at (801) 422-5052 at least one week ahead of time to schedule your visit, for more information or to reserve a camping spot. Wear appropriate clothing for your visit depending on the time of year. Click here for more information.


From St. George, Utah:

  • Take Old US Highway 91 northwest through Santa Clara and Shivwits (about 25 miles)
  • Continue for another 20 miles across the summit of the Beaver Dam Mountains southwest to Castle Cliff (this large cliff, on your left, is topped by a wooden flagpole)
  • Immediately beyond the cliff is the only unpaved road to the right
  • Take the gravel road about 11 miles to the west
  • Several yellow and black road signs along the way will guide you to the Preserve

Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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