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 Garden, Trails and Train Rides and Boomtown 1905. The Origen Museum 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. Other highlights include Dinosaur Tracks complete with real ichnogenus Grallator footprints; the Hoover Dam Exhibit with a film and a scaled re-creation of the dam; The Railroad, home to a railroad car along with sculpted figures telling stories about railroad life; and Land Auction which immerses visitors into the 1905 land auction that launched the boom town of Las Vegas. Be sure to catch the 8-minute film narrated by Martin Sheen (in the Big Springs Theater just off the lobby); this quick natural history overview has great photography and awesome sound.

Outside, the Living Collections is 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 and science shows are given. Boomtown 1905 which is a life-size recreation of the first Las Vegas streetscape. Across from Boomtown is WaterWorks, housed in the Charleston Heights Pumping Station, an operational pumping facility, where visitors experience a behind-the-scenes look at the journey water takes to reach your tap.

The 8-acre Botanical Garden is laced with walking trails and features interpretive stations (there are more hiking trails on the north side of the complex). A seasonal butterfly habitat in the garden is open every spring and fall. 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. Recreational activities are permitted. Food is available. Time: Allow 2 hours minimum.

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