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What to do in Las Vegas - Springs Preserve

Deanna Keahey  ·  Nov 16, 2008  ·  10 Comments

Whenever I go to Las Vegas, I like to get away from the casinos for awhile, and do something different.  Last time, it was hiking in Red Rock Canyon.  Today, we visited the Springs Preserve.  This is a fabulous place (opened 2007), that preserves and shares some of the natural and human history of the area - right in the middle of Las Vegas.

I first read about this in Uptake Blog: Explore the Natural Side of Las Vegas, and I'm sure glad I did!  It's a wonderful place - better than I had anticipated.

Did you know that Las Vegas is Spanish for "the meadows"?  You sure wouldn't guess it looking around today at this concrete city in the desert - it doesn't look much like meadow territory!  But until the mid-20th century, a natural spring here created a little oasis in the middle of the Mojave Desert.  Various native tribes lived here or camped here over many centuries, and in the late 1800s other people started arriving too.  The spring became a regular stop for anybody crossing the desert.  Eventually, as people started moving in, drilling wills and tapping the underground aquifer, the spring ran dry.

From the geology of how the mountains and springs were formed, through the animals, plants, and people who lived here at different times, the Springs Preserve takes you all the way to today's desert life, with its water and sustainability issues.  There are displays, movies, interactive exhibits, and games, and it's done in an imaginative and interesting way.

On the train to Las Vegas, early 1900s

On the train to Las Vegas, early 1900s

One part I thought was fun was an old train car from the early 1900s.  You enter, and there are life-size statues of people on some train seats, and there's also a seat you can sit on, to take your place on the train.  As the train "leaves the station", the scenery outside the train windows starts to move, and the sound effects make it seem like you're really riding the rails.  The "people" on the other seats start talking to each other about traveling to Las Vegas, and details of their plans there.  It's so much more engaging than a simple display would have been - it puts you right in the middle of the history.

There's also an area of trails through the desert, that visit a few ruins along the way, like the old spring house that was built to cover and protect the spring.  It's unusual to be walking through the desert of mojave yucca, creosote bush, and prickly pear cactus, with the high-rise towers of modern Las Vegas right behind.

Desert trails in the middle of Las Vegas

Desert trails in the middle of Las Vegas

Next time you're in Las Vegas and want to escape the sound of slot machines for a couple of hours, I highly recommend the Springs Preserve.

You can find some great deals right now on Las Vegas hotels, especially if you're able to do weeknights.  I'm staying at the Orleans Hotel and Casino, and have a lovely view of the lights of the Vegas strip from an 18th floor room.  Best of all?  Sunday night stay is just $25!  You can't get a Motel 6 in a dumpy section of Phoenix for that price. :-)

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Categories: Destination tidbits · Nevada
Posted from:   Las Vegas, NV      Photo credit:   Deanna Keahey

10 responses so far ↓

  • 1 What to do in Las Vegas - Springs Preserve | Casino Orleans // Nov 16, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    [...] post by Adventure is the spice of life 16 November 2008 in Casino Orleans [...]

  • 2 bekyboo // Nov 19, 2008 at 12:00 am

    Hi Deanna,
    Wow! I've been to Vegas a few times and have never heard of this, I don't know how. Usually with "Sin City" I'm drawn to the casinos and nightlife, but this looks like it could be something different and refreshing. I'm headed there again in January... I'll keep this in mind! :)

    bekyboo�s last blog post.. Phillies Baseball�The Year That Brought a Phillies World Series

  • 3 dyamondrose // Nov 19, 2008 at 1:11 am


    I haven't been to Las Vegas yet but I will definitely keep this in mind. I've always thought of Vegas as party and gambling but definitely not this. It is great to learn something new and different about Las Vegas.

    Thanks for the eye opener


  • 4 Aimee // Nov 19, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    I always like historical vacation spots. It's always neat to learn about former times. They have a similar train in my state. I hope your train also had a gift store to shop for souvenirs related to the ride!
    The trails to the ruins sound fun too. Sounds like a great place to take some photos! (I say that because I love taking pictures--especially of unique stuff!)

  • 5 Deanna Keahey // Nov 22, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    Hi Bekyboo - Casinos and nightlife are the big draw, but it's nice to "escape" for a little while sometimes! This was the first time I'd been there too, but I'm sure not the last.

    Aimee - The history really does add another level to a place, doesn't it? You just see a place differently when you know a bit more about its history. And who can resist a gift shop (and bookstore!!) (-:

  • 6 ed // Nov 22, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    I really intend on visiting springs reserve when my family and i go back to Vegas. We have visited several of the must see-attractions when we stayed on other trips and we always are interested in seeing something new, and it sounds like we will be checking out springs reserve.

    thanks for the tip

  • 7 Benito Torian // Jan 16, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    I just wanted to drop you a line and tell you that I really enjoyed this entry. It was full of fresh information and creativity, both of which we always can use more of.

  • 8 Rocker // Feb 22, 2010 at 7:55 am

    i don't normally post comments .. but i gotta say.. these infos are great. thanks man

  • 9 Auto Content Cash // Mar 8, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Great post! I am sure most people will love this :)

  • 10 Daniel Catalin Dumitru // Mar 22, 2010 at 6:07 am

    nice article and also nice all the site ... congrats and keep up the good posting :)

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