AAA Editor Notes
The Springs Preserve is between US 95 and Alta Dr. at 333 S. Valley View Blvd. This outstanding 180-acre cultural and educational facility has five main exhibit areas: The Nevada State Museum, the Origen Museum, the Desert Living Center, the Gardens and the Trails. The Origen Experience is packed with interactive exhibits aimed mainly at kids. A simulated flash flood and videos of desert wildlife are among the many displays that cover the geological and biological history of the Mojave Desert. Be sure to catch the 8-minute film narrated by Martin Sheen (in the theater just off the lobby); this quick natural history overview has great photography and awesome sound.
Other interactive displays focus on such subjects as Hoover Dam and what it takes, technologically speaking, to power all those casino lights twinkling on the Strip. The back patio of the building is Living Collections, a live animal exhibit area featuring snakes, desert tortoises, lizards, gophers and other native Mojave species.
The Desert Living Center, housed in five energy-saving and environmentally friendly buildings, contains classrooms, labs and galleries for temporary exhibits. Live animal presentations are given.
An 8-acre garden is laced with walking trails and features interpretive stations (there are more hiking trails on the north side of the complex). Weather too hot for a walk? Hop aboard the preserve's replica trackless train, which tire-wheels you on a narrated, 20-minute tour along the 2.2-mile Exploration Loop Trail. A butterfly habitat is open seasonally.
Guided tours are available. Food is available. Time: Allow 2 hours minimum.