Visiting the Springs Preserve

Ever since we started coming to Las Vegas, the Springs Preserve has been on my “to-see & do” list, but we never seem to make it. The tickets are $17/pp for Seniors and about half price for resident Seniors (that's us). We, however, are Bank of America customers and the first full weekend of every month BOA sponsors “Museums on Us”, free admission to about 150 museums across the country, including the Springs Preserve. We figured it was time to visit. You can tell when you're getting close to the highway exit for the Preserve. The resident critters catch your attention and invite you in.

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Built around Las Vegas' original water source, the Las Vegas Springs, the Springs Preserve encompasses about 180 acres of land within sight of the Las Vegas Strip. Owned and operated by the Las Vegas Valley Water district, the Preserve is dedicated to celebrating the history and culture of the Las Vegas Valley and encouraging environmental stewardship. The sprawling facilities offer two museums, galleries, outstanding botanical gardens, interpretive walking trails and so much more … definitely more than we could absorb in a single visit.

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We began our visit at the Nevada State Museum. Christopher the Columbian Mammoth greeted us on arrival. We learned about dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals that roamed the Las Vegas Valley tens of millennia ago and we found it fascinating

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We wandered through exhibit after exhibit, taking in not only sights, but sounds. From the desert animal cries of coyotes, owls hooting and rattlesnakes hissing to the sounds of miners working their claims and steam trains chugging and slot machines spilling out coins. The history of the Las Vegas Valley was recounted before our eyes … and ears.

We headed to the botanical gardens for a guided tour by the Preserve's volunteer Master Gardeners. We had a mission here. We're in the process of planning the landscaping for our backyard and are, of course, especially interested in native plants and certainly desert tolerant plants. We currently have a rather uninteresting collection of cacti, yucca and aloe in the front yard, and we are searching for a bit more variety in the back. The three tour guides were excellent. I wish we'd brought notebook and pencil, but we did the best we could with our poor memories and photos of plants that would fit well in the yard. Brochures were offered and accepted and ongoing classes and gardening events might well be in our future.

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We walked along some of the interpretive trails, listening to mockingbirds sing and watching butterflies and hummingbirds flit about. We ended up in Boomtown 1905, a new exhibit that has just opened featuring a streetscape of Las Vegas at the turn of the 20th century. We took a peek inside the bank and the Wells Fargo stagecoach then progressed down the street to the mercantile, movie theater (showing silent movies), the Arizona Club, the hotel and the train station.

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An old operating player piano was being demonstrated at the Arizona Club and the kids were thrilled to take their turns “pumping” out out WWI tunes. Several small houses lined the opposite side of the street and it was interesting to view the period furniture and furnishings.

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We never made it to the Origen Museum nor did we tour the galleries nor suss out all the garden art that's placed throughout the grounds. Many trails were left unwalked. Too much to see, too little time, but there's always another day. We'd rate the Springs Preserve an “A” place to visit.