Courtesy of Springs Preserve
Courtesy of Springs Preserve
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 six main exhibit areas: The Nevada State Museum, the Origen Museum, the Desert Living Center, the Botanical Gardens, the Trails and Boomtown 1905. 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 the Hoover Dam and Boomtown 1905 which is a life-sized recreation of the first Las Vegas streetscape. The Living Collections, a live animal exhibit area features snakes, desert tortoises, lizards, gophers and other native Mojave species. A seasonal butterfly habitat in the Botanical Gardens is open every spring and fall.

The Desert Living Center, housed in five energy-saving and environmentally friendly buildings, contains classrooms, labs and galleries for temporary exhibits. Live animal presentations and science shows 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.

Guided tours are available. Food is available. Time: Allow 2 hours minimum.

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