Springs Preserve: Another Side of Vegas

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Springs Preserve

Springs Preserve focuses on the importance of water in the desert ecosystem

I love Las Vegas and all that it offers in its busy, 24/7 environment, but after awhile, the crowds and the sensory stimulation get to be overwhelming. When that happens, I need to find a quiet place, stat. There aren’t very many quiet places on the Strip, except my hotel room. Hiding in my hotel room is not really my idea of a fun vacation.

These days, I find myself looking for ways to escape the Strip (and Downtown) at least once during a trip. Two years ago, I took a small group tour (there were 3 of us) to the Valley of Fire. Last year, I went with my friend Brian to Bonnie Springs Old Nevada on a Monday, when it’s “closed”. (I’ll be writing about that in a future post.)

On my October trip, Brian brought me out to Springs Preserve because he thought I’d like it. He was right! I’d intended to get out there myself for years, but hadn’t gotten around to it. (You know how it is: So much to do in Vegas, so little time.) Well, now that I’ve seen Springs Preserve once, I’d really like to return to explore it further.

Springs Preserve

Springs Preserve

There is plenty of parking here, assuming you’re driving. But if you, like me, don’t care to rent a car while in Vegas, you can also take the bus. I was chatting with a friend after I got home and he had also been to Vegas and Springs Preserve earlier in the year with his young daughter. He said they took the bus from the Strip, and it took about an hour each way. I asked him if it was a pain, and he said “Not really”. So if they can do it, I figure a solo adult traveler can do it.

Cacti

Cacti

Brian and I arrived around 4pm, when the actual attractions shut down, but the walking trails and gardens were available (and free). There are 3.65 miles of trails here and 110 acres of native habitats and archaeological sites. We walked around just enough so I could see what it was like.

Springs Preserve

Not a slot machine within earshot

It’s peaceful and beautiful and relaxing, with terrific views across the valley of the Las Vegas Strip far, far in the distance. The sun was starting to go down, and the light was lovely. Bonus for us: It was October, and the Preserve was decorated for Halloween, which was fun.

Rose

You’ll find more than just cactus in the gardens here

Who would enjoy Springs Preserve? People who don’t care for the touristy elements of Las Vegas or are looking for something new to do; people who are interested in the history and development of the region; people who want to enjoy the great outdoors in a safe environment; people who enjoy educational opportunities when they travel.

Botanical Gardens

Botanical Gardens

Things I’d like to do on a return trip:

  • The Nevada State Museum – I’m embarrassed that I’ve been coming to Las Vegas for 13 years, and I still haven’t been here. The State Museum educates visitors on the history of Nevada and Las Vegas. You can learn about how the Great Basin was formed, the plant and animal life of the region, local Native American history, pioneers, early settlers, the Hoover Dam, atomic testing, and the creation of modern Las Vegas. This is the kind of thing I make it a priority to see in all new cities I visit. Yet in Las Vegas, there are so many other attractions vying for a visitor’s attention, most of which are more conveniently located steps from one’s resort. Excuses, excuses. I need to return to Springs Preserve to visit this museum.
  • The 20 minute narrated train ride ($3) of the 2.2-mile Exploration Loop Trail. Yeah, sure, it’s a bit cheesy, but you’re always going to learn more facts with an expert guide than exploring on your own.
  • Hike the trails and see the Botanical Garden again. Check out the historical and archaeological sites close-up.
  • See “Miracle in the Mojave,” a film shown in The Big Springs Theater that covers the natural history of the area and the importance of water in the development of Las Vegas.
Origen Museum

Origen Museum

They also have limited engagement exhibits in the Origen Museum. The current one is “Leonardo da Vinci: Machines in Motion,” an interactive exhibit where you can operate 40 life-size versions of the master’s inventions. (Hopefully not the chariot of dismemberment.)

Have you been to Springs Preserve? Do you have any firsthand tips for visitors? Please feel free to add them in the comments below!

Rotunda

The Desert Living Center Rotunda

Things You Should Know Before Going:

  • Where it is: 333 South Valley View Boulevard
  • There’s plenty of parking and a bus stop nearby.
  • Hours: Daily 10am-4pm; Nevada State Museum open Thurs-Mon 10am-6pm.
  • Admission: Trails are free. Indoor attractions cost $18.95 (includes the Nevada State Museum); half that price if you’re a Nevada local.
  • Rent a bicycle to explore the trails for $8/hour.
  • You may want to call in advance if there’s something in particular you want to see to make sure it’s not closed for any reason.
  • Food is available at the Preserve, so if you want to spend several hours there, you won’t starve.

 

10 thoughts on “Springs Preserve: Another Side of Vegas

  1. brt374

    We had a great time that afternoon. I especially recall the larger-than-life moving spider scaring the bejesus out of you! The thing I like most about the Springs Preserve is that one can spend as much or as little time as they like there, tailoring the agenda to the time available (there’s always next time to see what you didn’t have time to see). It truly is an oasis in the middle of the city. The State Museum has come to be one of my favorite places in the city to spend some quiet time alone. And the trails are also an excellent way to get in some hiking without making the trek out to Red Rock or other outskirts of town.

    1. Gray Cargill Post author

      Haha, yes I remember that, too, Brian–vividly. Damn spiders. I also liked the area where we could take our photos with “thought balloons”. That’s still my favorite photo of myself. You have an annual membership to Springs Preserve, don’t you, Brian? If I were a local, I would.

      1. brt374

        Yes I do, and the membership for two has already paid for itself three or four times over. There’s always something unique going on there, whether it be the weekly organic farmer’s market or the Da Vinci exhibit which you already shared about. Not to mention enjoying the change of seasons and the foliage to be enjoyed, such as the expansive rose garden (an obvious rarity in Vegas).

  2. Jeff Roberts, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

    As one of the primary designers for the Springs Preserve and the Architect of Record for the Desert Living Center, I am flattered at reading your blog comments about the property. It is a pleasure seeing how the community and visitors use the facility and their willingness to share their experiences. It was a honor to work on this project and I am happy to hear your visit was gratifying. Thank you

    1. Gray Cargill Post author

      Hi, Jeff! Thanks so much for your comment! You’ve done a great job at Springs Preserve, it’s a real gem for the community.

  3. Kristen

    I LOVED Springs Preserve. I’m here in Vegas for the first time (for a person who loves world travel that’s kind of pathetic) and my husband is doing conference stuff during the day so I’ve been going solo. I bought a discounted Big Bus hop-on-hop-off pass with the Green Route extension. The Green Route takes you to the outlet shops (I didn’t bother) and Springs Preserve.

    Unfortunately, I only had about two hours there. I could easily have spent another two hours, it was so great. Unlike you, I did have the opportunity to see the two museums. I had thought I’d prefer the Origen museum (I’m a science geek), but the Nevada State Museum was just as interesting. At the Origen they also had a gallery full of incredibly talented children’s art.

    I didn’t have time to see the botanical gardens and I’m very frustrated about that, but I did get to jog(ish) through some of the cool trails and take photos of the incredible views. My husband was super jealous and if we weren’t planning to see the Hoover Dam tomorrow I’m sure we’d head back to Springs Preserve.

    Especially for a new-to-Vegas solo traveler, I would recommend the Big Bus. It was a super-economical way to learn more about the city, see the sights and hop off and back on at many of the places you would have wanted to see anyway. I absolutely would have had no clue that Springs Preserve existed and I would have missed out on one of the highlights of our trip.

    1. Gray Cargill Post author

      Ah, another fan of Springs Preserve! I had no idea the Big Bus route goes out there. That’s great news! I’m so glad to hear you had a good time there. Now I want to go back. 🙂

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