|Springs Preserve Cont.|
Gazing out at the bone-dry, desert landscape of Las Vegas, it's hard to imagine that the area was once home to natural springs and abundant water.
Springs Preserve, a 180-acre cultural and historical attraction on the site of those springs, which dried up in 1962, aims to teach people about Vegas' past as well as get them to think about the future.
- Hours of operation: Open daily,10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
- Cost: $18.95 for adults, $17.05 for seniors 65 and older and $10.95 for children 5-17 years old. Children 4 and younger are free. Nevada residents receive discounted rates.
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The Springs Preserve, known as the birthplace of Las Vegas and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is administered by the Las Vegas Valley Water District, the agency that manages the city's water and promotes conservation.
The Preserve is home to entertainment, exhibits, galleries, trails and gardens that provide recreational and educational opportunities to visitors.
"It's a good place to come for recreation with the trails; it's a good place to come for entertainment with the amphitheater. You can get a respite from the hustle and bustle of the Strip," Davis said. "There's really no other place for tourists to go to see the true side of Las Vegas. Las Vegas has a fascinating history but is infamous for its roots on the Strip and gambling. Here you'll learn that the place is here because of water," he said.
An educational experience
Education about the past is a key component of the Springs Preserve and visitors can expand their knowledge at the Origen Experience.
This area was designed to teach visitors about the early inhabitants who made the springs in the Las Vegas Valley their home. There are galleries, a theater, interactive children's exhibits and much more.
The Natural Mojave Gallery features interactive exhibits that explore the geological history of the Mojave Desert and the formation of the Las Vegas Valley and the springs. Kids can dig for fossils and learn about erosion. A flash flood exhibit demonstrates the danger of flooding in the valley and features a recreation of a ravine though which 5,000 gallons of recycled water come crashing down every 20 minutes.
The People of the Springs Gallery includes 33 exhibits focusing on the cultural history of the Springs Preserve and the development of Las Vegas. On display are reconstructions of Native American dwellings and a multimedia recreation of the 1905 Las Vegas land auction. The arrival of the railroad is marked with an explorable train car and visitors can learn about the construction of Hoover Dam through an interactive exhibit.
The New Frontier Gallery keeps kids entertained as they learn about Las Vegas and the principles of sustainability through 13 different video games and activities.
Visitors can also learn about the myriad of wildlife that call the desert home with an exhibit of live animals including Gila monsters, lizards, bats, snakes, desert cottontail rabbits, spiders and more.
Looking toward the future
Education about conservation and preparing for the future is the other main goal of the Springs Preserve and that is accomplished in the Desert Living Center.
The Desert Living Center is a complex of five buildings and 43 exhibits including a sustainability gallery, a library, and classroom and conference space. Exhibits, events and activities at the center demonstrate the benefits of recycling, conservation and alternative energy.
Here, visitors can see a model that shows the path water travels to reach Las Vegas residences and businesses. A "tower of trash" represents the amount of trash an average family accumulates in one month and a theater inside a garbage truck constructed from recycled materials shows a film explaining where trash goes and what types of products can be made from recycled material.
A model kitchen, bathroom and laundry room demonstrates how to save energy, water and money and guests can view the exposed engine of a hybrid car to see how it works.