The Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area is located in the upper portion of the Crab Creek Watershed in Lincoln County. Shrub-steppe and riparian/wetland habitats can be found in the approximately 21,000-acre area. Adjacent BLM properties (Twin Lakes Recreation Area to the south, and Telford to the northeast) create extensive opportunities for exploration.
From the Headquarters Access Road, Swanson Lakes are the most easily accessible of the named lakes within the vast area. The small trail-head along the Access Road has a CXT toilet and a short ADA-accessible trail leading to the one of the lakes, an excellent viewpoint for watching waterfowl.
To explore the heart of the Wildlife Area and visit the interior lakes, hikers must first brush up on map and compass skills. The Wildlife Area is fenced, with green boundary markers visible all along the perimeter.
The interior has a few old farm roads, but no additional signage. No official trails lead to Florence Lake in the interior of the Wildlife Area, nor provide an easy western access point to Z Lake on the eastern side of the property. With an elevation range of only 2,102 to 2,412 feet, the landscape does not provide many navigational markers on the horizon.
However, the open country allows for easy off-trail walking for those who can keep to compass bearings and observe Leave No Trace. The terrain varies from wetlands to open grassland to sagebrush-dominated, and the landscape is dotted with relics from the area's farming past: from still-standing barns miles from other visible structures, to still-standing windmills, to rusting farm equipment parked and long-forgotten.
Hikers can expect to see deer, small mammals, waterfowl, birds of prey and much more at the Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area.