Ok, so let me get down to brass tacks here. I’m a Battle Born enthusiast through and through, but I had just been on a fantastically crazy warpath of a Nevada road trip for the past eight days. After covering seven state parks, one national park, six hotels, one wildlife preserve, and a few museums, I was a blubbering mess. Like, rocking in the corner humming to myself kind of a mess.
660 miles later, I was up to my eyebrows in State of Nevada factoids. Scheduled to take a tour of of a few final places before jetting home, I was trying to wrap my brain around possibly absorbing anything else. While I wholeheartedly wanted to learn as much as I could about some new and exciting places, all I could hope for was a slow, soft pitch of a tour with easy to understand guide!
After a godly night’s rest at The Downtown Grand, I swung on over to the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort, which was less than five minutes up the street. So far so good. I knew this state park was developed around Las Vegas’ first official establishment, but walking in, it was a bit strange. Right smack dab in the center of a gigantic intersection was this historic site with a large replicated fort. Kind of like a death metal concert in the middle of a prairie plain or revving a Lambo next to a sleeping baby. It was a blatant mix of old and new, and that alone had me pretty intrigued.
Once I was inside the park, most of the oddities stopped. I say ‘most,’ because the ranger promptly informed me that the original pioneer homestead was kitty corner to the park, where a bustling Shell Station was currently operating. Per usual, the history cast its spell over me and I couldn’t help but wonder what it must’ve been like to settle in this vast, arid land, with a nearby spring as the only commodity to take advantage of. A portion of one original building was miraculously still standing [flipping amazing that it mostly resisted the elements since the mid 1800s] as were some of the original fruit trees from early settlement days. It was surprisingly relaxing to wander these grounds, getting a better understanding how this glamorous metropolis originally got its start.
En route to the airport, I hit up one final stop before my epic journey was over: a mishmash of the Nevada State Museum and the Springs Preserve. Brilliantly located on an adjoining property, these elegant establishments have it figured out: they’ve managed to capture every single demographic with refined ease. (And to tell you the truth, I was a little happy to see exhibits intended for children..it was a bright colors and shapes kind of a day for me.)
Having learned that Las Vegas’ first settlement was attributed to the natural spring running through the valley, this perfectly parlayed into an amazing experience at the Springs Preserve. Effortlessly devoted to understanding Las Vegas’ dynamic history and the importance of water conservation in the area, the immaculately executed Preserve grounds includes museums, galleries, jaw-dropping botanical gardens, and my favorite: the cotton tail rabbit habitat. Yes, this exhibit is designed for children, and no, my punchiness didn’t lead me to this decision. Tell me one person who doesn’t want to stick their head in a plastic pod INSIDE a fuzzy little bunny’s home? Second best was the Universal Studios-esque room that demonstrated the seriousness of a flash flood in the Mojave Desert. Let’s get real here: a cool relaxing place, informative tidbits and a mock-flash flood = amazing fun at any age.
I addressed my rumbling belly with an exquisite lunch at the Springs Cafe…mmmmm my mouth is watering now, dreaming about the homemade potato chips that came with my stellar chicken sandwich. Feeling inexplicably restored, I hightailed it to the Nevada State Museum for one final dose of history and culture. And boy did I get just that.
This was the ultimate way to wrap up this trip, and I swear, I didn’t even plan like this. Wandering through these world-class, interactive exhibits pretty much blew my mind, considering I was inside the replicated mine shaft, and had just been at the historic Pioche Mining Aerial Tramway days before. Or making my way through the Lehman Caves exhibit when I had been deep down inside the real thing just a week ago. The authenticity of these places truly came to life through each exhibit...it was mind boggling.
Although I was full to the brim with information, experiencing the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort, Springs Preserve and Nevada State Museum sort of drove each place home and sealed the history in my brain in an off-beat sort of a way. It was blowing my mind to see a lot of what I had just covered [in a land bigger than the country of England mind you] was wrapped up in one building. The whole experience had been wrapped up nicely with a big shiny red bow. With that, I share with you an important hidden lesson: even when taking a nap sounds best after a frantically satisfying journey in our neck of the woods, sum up your trip with a visit to one of these astonishing establishments!