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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.