The 180-acre expanse of land known as the Springs Preserve has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1978, and for good reason. Spanish traders of the early 19th century, filled with visions of the rich California coast, forged a path that became known as the Old Spanish Trail. Upon discovering the city that we now call home, they christened it “Las Vegas,” which means “the meadows” in Spanish. In the years that followed, the Las Vegas Springs welcomed weary travelers, explorers, traders, settlers, and missionaries – all of them drawn here by one common element: water from the springs.
- WATERWORKS: Located inside the Charleston Heights Pumping Station is an operational water pumping facility owned and operated by the Las Vegas Water District. It’s the only place in Southern Nevada that offers visitors a behind-the-scenes look at the journey water takes to reach your tap. Go with the flow and explore the inner-workings of water-resource treatment and delivery. Step outside and visit The Global Terrace featuring interactive exhibits about worldwide water challenges. Explore how organizations like ONE DROP™ are connecting people to protect vital water supplies around the globe.
- PLAYGROUND: This newly-renovated children’s playground was designed and inspired by the most knowledgeable engineers for such a project: kids. Yes, it was kids who came up with popular play structures on this desert playground, including musical instruments, oversized replicas of wildlife (you have to see the Peregrine Falcon perched high upon a rock and the recreated skeleton of a Wooly Mammoth partially buried in the sand.) Look! A massive concrete Sidewinder Snake winding alongside the playground’s edge. How cool is that?
- ORIGEN MUSEUM: The name “Origen” was derived from two words: original and generations. It speaks to the origin of Las Vegas and the different generations that have passed through here. Featured are more than 75 permanent exhibits, an indoor theater and traveling exhibit space. Favorites include the Flash Flood Exhibit, the Hoover Dam Exhibit and Live Animal Exhibits. Visitors can enjoy an educational film in the Big Springs Theater. Immerse yourself in recreations of the famous 1905 land auction or an old-time railroad car. Check the Springs Preserve website for the current traveling exhibit.
- NATURE EXCHANGE: Nature Exchange is a nationwide educational program and unique learning environment located inside the Gift Shop. Young collectors can trade items they’ve found in nature and learn more about them. You can trade naturally found items such as shells, rocks, bark, pine cones and more. The trained staff talk with the youngsters and encourage further investigation. Participating collectors gain points that are tracked through the Nature Exchange computer database. Children can trade their points for items to take home or bring them back in to trade for other items at a later date. Participants can earn a badge on a new discipline each month, with topics ranging from archaeology to oceanography.
- TRAILS, TRAIN RIDES & BIKE RENTALS: With four trails to choose from, totaling over 3 1/2 miles of the Springs Preserve, you can really explore the desert like a true adventurer! Walk the trails or opt for a 20-minute train ride, for a small fee, down the Preserve’s 2.2-mile Exploration Loop Trail on a trackless train, and uncover Las Vegas history with every turn of the wheels. Families can explore a 2.2-mile Exploration Loop Trail on two (or more) wheels with the bicycle rental program. Bike rentals are available at the Exploration Loop Trailhead. Bikers can enjoy various historical stops, shaded ramadas and views of the cienega and natural areas on a riding trail for a small fee (helmets are included with your rental.) TIP: Download the free Springs Preserve app to help you navigate the trails.
- BOOMTOWN: The moment you step foot in boomtown, you are transported to life in the early railroad town of Las Vegas. Thousands of people traveled to Las Vegas to participate in the railroad’s famous May 15-16, 1905, land auction, conducted by its subsidiary, the Las Vegas Land and Water Company. In the days to follow, successful bidders quickly went to work setting up businesses and establishments to support the growing community. The exhibit includes four original restored railroad cottages that housed early railroad workers and their families and also features re-creations of early businesses, including: the Las Vegas Train Depot, the Lincoln Hotel, the Arizona Club, a mercantile, the First State Bank and the outdoor Majestic Theatre.
- DESERTSOL: Located in The Botanical Garden, this permanent, walk-through exhibit is an award-winning 745-square foot one-bedroom, one-bathroom solar-powered home. It was created and built by the UNLV Solar Decathlon Team as part of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar 2013 Decathlon. It’s an ultra-efficient showcase of innovation in sustainable home design. The Botanical Gardens invites visitors to explore the many informative stations and hands-on activities while exploring desert landscaping and ways to enhance outdoor space with water-smart techniques.