Botanical Garden at Springs Preserve
Botanical Garden at Springs Preserve in Las Vegas, Nevada is a breath of fresh air to add to any trip to Las Vegas. Visiting just the gardens is free, and botanical gardens function as an amazing educational tool highlighting water-reducing ways to beautify our landscapes by using plants that require little to no additional watering to using rocks, stones and boulders to add some drama to your previously boring desert landscape. It’s great to walk through and enjoy the plants, garden art, and atmosphere. Peppered throughout the park are various educational tools addressing various issues and concerns that impact the area, including the water levels in Lake Mead, and the natural cycles of drought.
If you want the gardens to yourself, with exception of the gardeners tending to the plants, visit when it’s 104°F (40° C). I think we were the only visitors there. In the vegetable patch a gardener tending the plants asked if I liked tomatoes. Of course I do! I was treated to being able to try a fresh Chocolate Sprinkle Tomato, a little tomato with a sweet chocolate-like flavor it was such a treat.
We spent a couple of hours wandering the gardens looking at cacti, succulent plants, rock gardens, garden art, and learning about issues that impact the locals, like the historically low water levels in Lake Mead, which has been a concern for us living in Southern California where water saving measures have been implemented for quite some time. We didn’t enter any of the buildings or check out the walking tracks and guided tours which I plan to explore further on the next visit.
Roughly 30 miles (50 km) outside of Las Vegas and nestled next to the Lake Mead National Recreation Area is iconic Hoover Dam. You can travel there by car, pass through a checkpoint (not all vehicles are permitted) and actually drive over the dam. There are paid parking lots on both sides, but if you’re willing to walk a little farther and down a few more steps, you’re likely to find free parking on the Arizona side of the dam. Once parked you can get out and walk across the dam. The visitors center offers a variety of tours about the dam and power plant, but there’s quite a bit to see if you just walk around. Since the dam straddles state lines, you can always tell your friends unfamiliar with the area how you walked through the desert all the way from Nevada to Arizona. As you can tell by the bleaching in the rocks in the picture below the water levels are at incredibly low levels, historically so in fact. The low levels impact a number of states in the Southwest including California. For more information about visiting the dam and available tours you can visit the website here.