With the many features it offers, The Springs Preserve has a vast array of things to see and do for people of all ages.
You'll experience Las Vegas culturally, both modern and historic, along with exhibits of national and international interest. It also covers a wide range of the animal and plant world along with other areas of Nature.
It features live animals from our desert areas, live exhibitions, hands-on stuff, botanical gardens, plant and food cultural interest, short video's and film displays throughout as well as feature films in their small indoor theater.
The grounds and structures are done with architectural and artistic flair throughout the place. It has various outdoor stage areas, sustainable living models, a little seasonal butterfly habitat as well as a host of other interesting features.
It truly has so much to offer every age group that you'll find it's quite easy to spend 4 or more hours here. It's a natural for families and kids, but has all kinds of interest for adults too.
The Nevada State Museum is in the Springs Preserve, on the north grounds.
It's an all inclusive admission for both and if you're wanting to see both, you'll want around 7 hours to enjoy these.
Although it's tempting, you'll be cheating yourself trying to do both in 4 to 5 hours or so, since you'll have to rush around to see enough of each. You'll be forced to skimp on some really good stuff if you do.
What I recommend is to focus and spent most of your time seeing one of these, then using whatever time you have left over to see parts of the other.
The Springs Preserve is larger and has more features so count on spending at the very least, 4 hours there alone. You'll find more family features here as well as items for all ages.
The Nevada State Museum is smaller but you'll want at least 2 to 2.5 hours there.
The State Museum tends to be more interesting for adults but still has some pretty cool things for kids interested in our state and city history.
If you get to Vegas more than once a year, get the yearly pass and you'll be able to really get the most out of both of these places.
I mention these time frames keeping in mind 30-40 minutes for lunch at their Cafe, which really adds to an enjoyable day out here.
This place is very often a surprise to those who visit Las Vegas since it’s so close by and yet so far removed from what they know of Vegas. The story of the Springs Preserve is the story of the oasis that gave rise to the city.
That story begins with merchants and traders traveling along the nearby Spanish Trail en route to Los Angeles.
In 1829 a Mexican scout, Raphael Rivera, first set foot in the Valley discovering its various springs, calling it ‘las vegas’, which is spanish for 'the meadows'.
Once discovered, it became a vital stop along the trail after a long, dry and hot desert journey.
The spring fed oasis of meadows and small marshes was where they could replenish their life giving water.
From those days of traders and explorers, these springs would be the original source of transformations, one after another, into what you know today as the city of Las Vegas.
That's what put it on the National Registry of Historical Places. What better place to showcase that history than at the original oasis where it all happened ... and that's where the Springs Preserve is located.
As you walk into the Springs Preserve main entrance, you see signage for the Nevada State Museum to your left, and everything else to your right.
You'll wind around the walkway and then see the counter window where you pay the entrance fee, get info brochures on current happenings and a map of the Springs Preserve.
Although they have large display maps throughout the grounds, be sure to get a map to carry along with you ... you'll need it.
As you're coming in, you'll be surrounded by replicated little canyons that have little brooks running along their borders.
As you walk in further, the big building to your left is the Origen Museum. This museum houses a large array of features and it's the Springs Preserve main indoor exhibit focal point.
It has 75 permanent exhibits that are spread throughout, the 156 seat Big Springs Theater, spaces where they host their traveling exhibits and their main animal exhibits.
Walking into it's circular lobby area you'll notice it has clear panels in the flooring that lets you see a little brook flowing underneath it.
As you can imagine, water is a main theme throughout many of the exhibits here.
In their main exhibit section you'll see a re-creation of the original spring mound as well as all kinds of geological topics surrounding it. It covers the changes to this area from a billion years ago to the present day.
There's viewer controlled video's that fill you in on various aspects of the changes, as well as hands-on exhibits illustrating how the geologic forces created the lands we all live upon today.
You’ll also learn that the original springs no longer ‘spring’. During its early growth period, too many people in the valley were punching holes in the ground to get their own wells started.
This resulted not only in a lowering of the water table but also changed the structure of the pressure needed for those springs to flow. Things of this nature weren't understood back then and it took some time before it was.
We've learned a lot since then but there are still problems facing us that we need to find better solutions for.
Towards that end, this Preserve features ecological and sustainability workshops and programs that help to broaden our understanding and learning on how to be better stewards of what we do have left.
You'll see a focus on that subject in their Sustainability Gallery. It covers all kinds of topics and models that deal with the current issues, challenges and ideas on sustainability.
A popular exhibit here is the one that re-creates what a flash flood would be like in a little slot canyon. This is a cool little presentation that teaches you about flash floods and what to look out for. It's a good lesson for desert awareness, especially for kids.
The Big Springs Theater has entertaining and educational short films on related theme's of nature that are currently on their calendar of events.
On certain dates during the evenings, they also host free full length films.
Beyond the mound area are more sections detailing our modern landscape and highlights of the animals in our desert areas.
A little further past this section is where you go outside to where they have live animal exhibits.
What's pretty cool about this area is that the replicated rocks housing the animals have little portals throughout that let you peek in to where they burrow, nest or sleep.
You'll see Gila monsters, gophers, lizards, Desert Cottontails, snakes, tarantulas, scorpions and a frog once thought to be extinct - the Relict Leopard Frog.
One really beautiful animal here is the Grey Fox, which is much more colorful than its name. I know some people hate seeing beautiful animals like this one penned up and a part of me feels the same.
But a bigger part of me considers a few other factors. It has a much bigger impact for kids to see these animals in person. It helps inspire them to help in the efforts to save these animals and the environments they depend on.
Although TV programs on them are great, people 'feel' something when they see them in person. There's that little extra wonder when you can experience them personally.
Another factor is knowing these animals are cared for by those that love these animals too.
It's a trade-off that I can't see being done in any other way, and the pay-off can be large down the road with young minds and hearts. Some life long careers got their spark in places just like this.
The Springs Preserve also host a variety of live animal exhibitions.
One favorite is where they handle and feed them while explaining the interesting aspects of that particular animal.
Nearby sections highlights the land auction that established the city of Las Vegas, and you'll see features on the railroads with a mock train passenger car that you can walk through.
There's a section covering Hoover Dam and another on the Native Americans of this area. The living structures of these Indians are also replicated and featured in one of their outdoors areas.
My last time out to the Springs Preserve I got to see two really cool exhibits, and if what I saw is any indication of their eye for quality, you'll probably enjoy these no matter what the subject.
The first was a Dia de los Muertos exhibit and the other was Wicked Plants. After noticing I was feeling a bit ghoulish, I had a 'duh' moment when it hit me that both themes were macabre in nature.
The Dia de los Muertos, which is also observed internationally, is a noted one of Mexico where it originated thousands of years ago.
It translates to 'Day of the Dead' and it's a time to remember, honor and celebrate family and friends who have gone to the great beyond.
It begins on All Hallows Eve - October 31, followed by All Saints Day, then All Souls Day.
It's a very colorful tradition with skulls being the most prominent icon of its observation.
This exhibit runs for a while beyond those dates and include programs that let you compete to have your creation entered and featured among the dozens of items in their classic altar display.
Wicked Plants was just what it sounds like. It featured all kinds of deadly plants to humans as well as to other plants, trees or animals. It was in the larger traveling exhibit area and was laid out like a classy haunted house.
I recognized a few plants, both aquatic and land based, that have infested parts of Florida and the southeast in the section that had video features on a whole group of these.
Other sections had historical pieces where poisonous plants were central to the story.
I didn't think much on the subject at first but found myself really getting pulled in by this exhibit. The setting for this has a similar flavor to the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland except here, you're right in with the displays.
It was quite a twist educationally and it entertained me much more than I had expected.
Both of these exhibits were really fun to experience and are full of little nooks and crannies of details that one can easily miss if rushing around in order to get to the next exhibit.
The Botanical Gardens here are quite comprehensive in covering the range of desert flora.
You'll recognize a few of these plants as they have gained widespread popular desert landscape use. They're the natural alternative to previous landscape choices that were much more wasteful.
You'll see many though, that you have probably never seen.
I love the desert and have always found it fascinating. The first thing that amazed me when I moved out here to Las Vegas, having arrived in the height of summer, was how anything could thrive in such harsh conditions.
What's great about the Botanical Gardens is the rich variety it shows you of what does thrive in these conditions.
The spread-out walkways of the cactus garden have little walkways branching out from it into other themed areas.
All around you'll find touches of artistic accents along with all kinds of little quiet spaces where you can sit and take in the surroundings.
The serenity and simple solitude one can feel here is a refreshing contrast to our constant distractions and technological noise.
It still puzzles me to see some people in these gardens spend half the time with their face in their phones.
I don’t get it but ... do yourself a favor. Do absolutely nothing in these gardens but look, with intention, at the incredible work of Nature.
Look closely at the intricate spirals and symmetry of the many different kinds of cactus here. Notice their uniquely artful armor of barbs and spines ... the rows of them that column the huge Saguaro which can live 100 or so years.
Read the info cards on the desert flowers that bloom with the slightest of rainfall.
Discover the intriguing ways trees and shrubs have developed their own ways of surviving in this environment.
Look closely at the beefy smoothness of the succulents and how they've adapted their own methods. There is much to see and learn here if you slow down and take a little time out to enjoy some of the wonders of Nature.
Nearby the Botanical Gardens of the Springs Preserve you’ll find DesertSol, a 754 square ft. solar powered home built by the University of Nevada Las Vegas Solar Decathlon Team.
It was the top ranked entry in the US and placed second in the 2013 international competition. It’s a one bedroom, one bath house that’s one of the best examples of sustainable living and well worth your time exploring the many features of it.
Also in this part of the grounds you'll find the seasonal Butterfly Habitat and nearby is the Activity Center. That's their little outdoor amphitheater where I saw Clint Carvalho's Extreme Parrots show.
Clint pulled everyone into his show early on by taking one of his favorite parrots up to us in our seats, so everyone could see this beautiful bird up close and even pet it.
These birds, which have been his life long love, do some pretty incredible stunts. He performs his professional show at Planet Hollywood for now, but volunteers to do this show free at the Springs Preserve.
His experience rehabbing parrots made him aware of how little people know about these incredible birds, something he's on a mission to change. If it's playing while you're visiting here, it's a great little show to catch.
The Springs Preserve host weddings, reunions and all kinds of other functions. For company affairs, seminars or special meetings they have spaces of varying sizes that accommodate these.
They also have a Gift Shop where you can get keepsakes of your visit and a kiosk where you can crack open your own geode.
Since this site is for occasional visitors here to Las Vegas, my main focus has been to highlight features with that in mind.
There's even more at the Preserve I didn't touch on that's more suited toward locals or frequent visitors to Las Vegas, like the historical hiking trails, bike rentals, train ride, kids playground, nature exchange, libraries, and more. A few of these will cost extra.
Had I included this also, this webpage would be about 5 ft. long, so I've left it for you to see on their website.
Be sure to get the various brochures when entering the Springs Preserve, especially the map.
It's a large complex with much to see so the map is crucial for you to get around and not waste time getting lost over and over.
You can also get their map online at their website, which I've linked at the bottom of this page, along with a link to my page on the Nevada State Museum.
When you see their site, you'll know why I recommend at the very least 4 hours just for the Springs Preserve alone.
The address for the Springs Preserve is 333 South Valley View Boulevard, Las Vegas, NV 89107.
Getting here is easy because you just need to connect to Valley View, which runs north-south, head north on it and a little past Charleston Blvd, you'll see it on your right.
From the Strip, take either Flamingo, Sahara or Charleston Blvd west to Valley View Blvd and turn right heading north. About 2 miles past Charleston Blvd., you'll see signs for the Springs Preserve which will be on your right, across the street from the Meadows Mall.
Take note that Valley View does not run between Tropicana and Flamingo, so you need to get to Flamingo if staying in the south Strip area.
Another option from the south Strip is to take I-15 to Charleston Blvd, exit to head west, then turn right on Valley View. About 2 miles up you'll see signs for it on your right.
From Downtown, take 95 North/Reno (it heads west before turning north to Reno) to Valley View, exit heading south and about half a mile down you'll see signs for the Springs Preserve.
From most Strip locations, it’s basically a 20-25 minute drive in moderate traffic this way. From Downtown it's a 10 minute drive.
For info on everything, visit the Springs Preserve website. This includes info on the Nevada State Museum since it's in the northern section of the grounds at the Springs Preserve.
Clink this link - Nevada State Museum - to see my page on it if that's your main interest.
The Springs Preserve is a refreshing change that's a great option whenever you're ready to spend your day in a whole different way before hitting the great nightlife on the Strip.