NEVADA: A VACATION WONDERLAND

I love Nevada!

If you tour Nevada, you will find that it contains an abundance of other sites and sounds just as exciting as the casinos and shows on the Las Vegas Strip. The Sagebrush State is more than Las Vegas, magic, showgirls and gambling, although there is plenty of glitz and glamour to enjoy in all that. Nevada is also the home of the London Bridge, Area 51, atomic testing history, The Star Trek Experience and the Pony Express!

In fact, the top 10 Cities visited in Nevada each year are these:

Top 10 Cities in Nevada

Las Vegas
Reno
Laughlin
North Las Vegas
Henderson
Carson City
Elko
Boulder City
Stateline
Mesquite

THE PONY EXPRESS LANDS

Among the beautiful desert country lays a particularly interesting spot near its center. The Pony Express region of Nevada stretches across US Route 50, tracing the historic Pony Express route that extended from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California in the early 1860s. Some of my ancestors from Ireland and Scotland traveled this stretch of land to arrive in California at about the time of the Pony Express, and they were witness to its magic. This a region both reminiscent of the 19th century and firmly rooted the future, and the Pony Express will never die here.

Only a few towns exist now along US 50, called “The Loneliest Road in America” by the media. Lonely motorists and folks who leave the frenetic pace of the big city both are lulled by the tranquility in the magnificent peace of the desert. Pony Express lands are full of undisturbed natural creations and historic mining towns that you will enjoy. Going from east to west the next stop on US 50 is Great Basin National Park. Filled with giant bristlecone pines that grow only at elevations over 10,000 feet above sea level, these forests live up to 4,000 years. There are hiking trails leading to alpine lakes and Nevadan mountain tops worth seeing. Lehman Caves in the park displays stalactites and stalagmites that have been developed over several thousand years, perhaps as old as the earth itself. The town of Baker, five miles east of the park, welcomes you with several restaurants, a motel and a gas station.

About an hour northwest of Great Basin is Ely, an old copper mine town that makes a good base camp for trips to local recreation areas and historical sites. Ely has several restaurants, hotels and RV camp spaces, with murals that bring you up close to Nevada’s history. The Nevada Northern Railway Museum in Ely includes the rail yards and shops of the Nevada Northern Railway, a short line that ran for almost 80 years from 1906 to 1986. We wish it were still running today. The refurbished train depot includes a museum, a gift shop and rides on “The Ghost Train of Old Ely.” This would be great for those of you who love Halloween activities and steam engines. There is even the opportunity to drive a locomotive on a trip up the narrow mountain canyon. Exciting!

Seventy-eight miles to the west is Eureka, a 19th-century mining town founded in 1864. It still has many of its original buildings, including the Eureka Courthouse, opened in 1880. Across the way sits the Eureka Opera House, a renovated building that is now a convention and performing arts center. The Eureka Sentinel Museum displays local history and features the press equipment used to produce the town newspaper for 90 years from 1870 – 1960.

To the west is Austin, another mining camp. Silver was discovered in Austin, Nevada in 1862 and within a few years, Austin was the second largest community in the state. Don’t miss the three historic churches: St. Augustine’s Catholic Church, built in 1866; the Methodist Church, also 1866; and St. George’s Episcopal Church, 1878. Austin and the nearby Toiyabe, Toquima, and Hot Creek mountain ranges are popular with mountain bikers.

On the way west from Austin to Fallon, Sand Mountain is a two-mile-long, 600-foot-high sand dune that attracts dune buggies, dirt bikers and sand skiers. The Sand Mountain Pony Express Station is just south of the dune, a large rock enclosure used by Pony Express riders 150 years ago. Further west on US 50 is the Grimes Point Archeological Site and interpretive signs guide you along a trail lined with petroglyphs, which are the rock drawings made by Native American peoples living there from 5,000 B.C and 1,500 A.D.

MORE PONY EXPRESS LANDS ATTRACTIONS

BHP Mining Tours
Enjoy a mining video, guided tour of the mill and operations in the pit from an overlook; seven miles west of Ely on US 50. Call 775-289-7000; or P.O. Box 382, Ruth 89319. Hours: Call for hours and reservations. Year-round Admission: FREE.

McGill Drugstore
Explore the inventory of 50s and 60s memorabilia plus a working 1930 vintage soda fountain. Call 775-235-7082, 11 Fourth St., P. O. Box 757, McGill 89318. Hours: Call for information. Year-round Admission: FREE.

Eureka Opera House
Built in 1880, restored in 1994. Original 1924 hand-painted stage curtain. Unique historic experience. Information: 775-237-6006; P.O. Box 284, Eureka 89316. Hours: 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Mon.-Fri. Year-round except state holidays. Admission: FREE.

Eureka Sentinel Museum
In the old Eureka Sentinel building, site of the town’s longest running newspaper, museum displays artifacts from 1870s lead and silver mining era. Information: 775-237-5010; P.O. Box 284, Eureka 89316. Hours: 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Apr.-Sep., daily; Oct.-Mar., Tue.-Sat. Admission: Donation.

Nevada has my favorite! – Native American Indian Country.

Thousands of years ago, Lake Lahontan, an ancient inland sea covering parts of Northern Nevada and Utah, was full of fish while the land was roamed by mammoth, bison, antelope, deer and big cats. While ancient American peoples left few artifacts, they did create petroglyphs, the rock writings found throughout Nevada and the Western United States today. The etchings show a variety of designs and stick figures, big horned sheep, lizards, and other animals.

At Grimes Point east of Fallon on US 50, there are some very good petroglyphs. They can also be found at Valley of Fire State Park. As Nevada grew dry in the past, larger animals went extinct and the Native Great Basin Peoples adapted to the changes. Lake Lahontan receded and became two small lakes, Pyramid and Walker. The shores were called home by the Northern Paiute. To the South, the Southern Paiutes lived near Las Vegas Valley and the tributaries of the Colorado River. Other tribes, including Western Shoshone and Washo, settled in the mountains.

The descendents of the original Native Peoples continue to occupy their ancestral lands. Pyramid Lake north of Reno is on the Northern Paiute Indian reservation. Pyramid Lake Rd. (State Rt. 445) is a National Scenic Byway, the only federal scenic byway entirely on an Indian reservation. Pyramid Lake has some of the best fishing in Nevada and Pyramid Lake Visitor Center houses a great museum of natural history and Native culture.

Parts of Walker Lake and the town of Schurz are on Walker Lake Indian Reservation to the south. The Lake offers trophy fishing, dramatic desert landscapes, and wide-open spaces. Native tribes have been in Nevada for many thousands of years, but were preceded by a culture known as the “Anasazi” or ancient ones. These people built elaborate adobe villages along the Muddy and Virgin rivers. Today, you can visit the Lost City Museum in Overton, with Anasazi artifacts and adobe buildings and pit houses. The Nevada State Museum in Carson City has a large display of Native Nevadan artifacts and the Stewart Indian Cultural Center, south of Carson City, was a federal boarding school for Indians up until recently in 1980. Today, it is a museum for the school.
Nevada’s Native American nations are involved today in many profitable businesses, from Native American traditional crafts to golf ranges to smoke shops, tobacco being a specialty. The Las Vegas Paiute Resort, owned and operated by the Southern Paiute Nation, includes two championship golf courses just 20 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

MORE NATIVE AMERICAN INDIAN SITES TO SEE

Humboldt Museum
Three turn-of-the-century buildings with antique autos, farm collection and Native American exhibits. Information: 775-623-2912; Jungo Rd. and Maple Ave., P.O. Box 819, Winnemucca 89446. Hours: 10:00 a.m.-noon and 1:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m., Mon.-Fri.; 1:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m., Sat. Year-round except major holidays. Admission: Donation

Pershing County Marzen House Museum
An 1874 two-story house, mining equipment, home fixtures, Native American artifacts, Indian Cave exhibit. Information: 775-273-2115; 25 Marzen Ln., P.O. Box 212, Lovelock 89419. Hours: 9:00 a.m.-l:30 p.m., Mon.-Fri., Nov.-Apr.; 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., Year-round Admission: Donation.

The Eagle’s Nest
Panoramic vistas of the Ruby Mts., wagon/sleigh rides, barbeques, studio/gallery featuring Western art and memorabilia. Information: 702-744-7370; JC 30-449 Box 4, Elko 89801. Year-round Admission: Call for rates; reservations required.

Grapevine Canyon
Seven miles west of Laughlin, ancient Native American petroglyphs above the springs. Information: 702-298-3321; 800-452-8445; c/o Laughlin Visitors Bureau, 1555 S. Casino Dr., P.O. Box 502, Laughlin 89029.

Rainbow Canyon
Self-guided tour with map, petroglyphs, geologic features; allow at least two hours. Information: 775-726-8100; Bureau of Land Management, Caliente Field Station, U.S. Hwy. 93, P.O. Box 237, Caliente 89008.

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge
Wetland oasis supports rare fish, plants, native wildlife. Information: 775-372-5435; HCR 70, Box 610-Z, Amargosa 89020. Hours: Sunrise to sunset; Year-round Admission: FREE.

VIVA LAS VEGAS

No travel piece about Nevada can be complete without looking at Las Vegas. This city is the site of 18 of the 20 largest hotels in America and visitors will be overwhelmed by the entertainment, tours, shopping and dining. Las Vegas has more lights than any other city, and is an adult’s Disneyland of wonders. Visiting the Las Vegas Strip, you’ll see a pirate ship battle, an active volcano and laser light water shows. Hotel-casinos present ancient Egypt, King Arthur’s Court, Rome, Venice, New York, Monte Carlo and the tropics. There is 24-hour gaming, restaurants of the most famous chefs in the world and many a star-studded show. Downtown Vegas is enclosed by a canopy of lights for five blocks. Called the Fremont Street Experience, the canopy lights up night with powerful light and sound shows.

Las Vegas is also a center for history and the fine arts. Art and historic museums range from classic and contemporary art, to archaeological and anthropological exhibits of the Native American Peoples. And not to be ignored is the museum of Liberace! Amusement theme parks in Las Vegas pit do anything in the rest of the USA. Recreational sports nearby include golf, boating, hiking, cycling, rock climbing, car racing, and sand and snow skiing.

Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, formerly owned by Howard Hughes is now a retreat for outdoor concerts. Half an hour north of Las Vegas is Mount Charleston, like a garden island in a sea of desert. Visitors can stay cool their without air conditioning. In Boulder City, southeast of Las Vegas. is Hoover Dam, a 726-foot- high concrete dam that holds back Lake Mead. It is one of the seven man-made wonders of the world, with tours of its hydroelectric system completed in 1935. Lake Mead is actually the largest man-made lake in the Western Hemisphere. With Lake Mohave, it is in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, which offers five beaches and marinas, campgrounds, boat and Jet Ski rental, sightseeing boats, and other activities. Valley of Fire State Park is 55 miles to the northeast of Lake Mead, with bright red sandstone mountains and valleys.

Mesquite is a city located northeast of Vegas on the Virgin River, a resort with golf and spas, horses, trap shooting and indoor activities for which Nevada is famous. Mesquite is conveniently located for side trips to nearby Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks. In the extreme southern tip of Nevada on the Colorado River is Laughlin, which in 1966, consisted of just a small motel and restaurant that catered to local fishermen. Fishing is great and Laughlin is a lively resort full of 5-star hotels offering big-name entertainment. You can water ski, swim, boat or relax on the nearby beaches. Laughlin’s water taxis are available to take passengers from Arizona to Nevada and back. Make sure to visit a town halfway between Laughlin and Las Vegas: Searchlight. You’ll find an interesting little museum in Searchlight, full of mining memorabilia and local historical color.

MORE LAS VEGAS THAN MEETS THE EYE – DON’T MISS ANY OF THIS

Closing October 1, 2006ELVIS-A-RAMA EXPERIENCENot much time left!

The Elvis-A-Rama is an 85-foot-long, 10-foot-high painted mural of the legendary life of Elvis Presley. It was painted by an obscure country music songwriter, Mitchell Torok. The mural was bought in 1994 by another obscure musician, Jimmy Velvet, and moved to Branson, Missouri. Four years after that it was bought by another Elvis collector and moved back to Vegas, where it now stands behind a velvet rope at a mall near the strip. The Elvis-A-Rama Experience displays celebrity autographs of Chet Akins, Archie Campbell, Sonny James, and Maria Shriver.

Elvis tribute performances are given in a small theater by Elvis impersonators. The original blue suede shoes are here, along with his first Cadillac and his turquoise karate outfit with the eagle rhinestone appliqués. One display holds the hotel bill from Elvis’s first gig in Las Vegas, and shows that in two weeks he spent only $207.07. Meanwhile, Graceland has paid $68 million for Vegas property next to the Harley-Davidson Cafe, where an Elvis museum and casino resort is to be built.

Elvis-A-Rama Experience: 3401 Industrial Rd, Las Vegas, NV. One block west of The Strip West side of Industrial Rd, behind the Fashion Show Mall, just north of Spring Mountain Rd and Sands Ave. Admission: Adults $12.95 Hours: Until October 1, 2006 only! Phone: 702-309-7200)

American Heroes Veterans Museum
Priceless memorabilia recognize America’s Veterans from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. The museum is open daily, 10 a.m. to 4 pm with a large WW II collection, and displays honoring Korea and Vietnam Veterans. A multi-media show, On the Wings of Eagles, pays tribute to American courage. Four screens show scenes of combat from WWII to Desert Storm. Attached to the hotel casino, admission to the show and museum is FREE year-round! Information: 702-298-4200; 800-243-6846; Ramada Express Hotel Casino, 2121 S. Casino Dr. Laughlin, NV. 89029.

Atomic Testing Museum
The Testing Museum opened in Las Vegas with exhibits that chronicle the history of US nuclear weapons testing. This includes a realistically simulated atmospheric blast in Ground Zero Theater. The museum is at 755 East Flamingo Road and Swenson Street, just east of the Las Vegas Strip in the Frank H. Rogers Science & Technology Building. Monday – Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays 1 to 5 p.m. $10 for adults, $7 for seniors 65 and older, children 7 to 17 and members of the U.S. armed forces. Children 6 and under are admitted free.

Cowboy Trail Rides
Red Rock Canyon riding stable. Guided horseback riding, mustang viewing, campfire, music cowboy poetry. Information: 702-387-2457; 1211 S. Eastern Ave., Las Vegas 89104. Hours: 8:00 a.m.-dark, daily. Admission: $25.00 and up.

Guinness World of Records Museum
See the amazing facts and feats of the Guinness Book of Records brought to life via replicas, videos and hands-on displays. Information: 702-792-3766; 2780 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas 89019. Hours: 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m., daily. Season: Year-round. Admission: Adults-$4.95; seniors, students and military-$3.95; children (12 and under)-$2.95.

Imperial Palace Auto Collection
Displayed in a plush, gallery-like setting are over 200 antique, classic and special-interest automobiles, including Model J Dussenbergs. Also a gift shop with memorabilia and books. Information: 702-794-3174; Fax 702-369-7430; www.autocollections.com or 3535 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas 89109. Hours: 9:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m., daily. Season: Year-round. Admission: Adults-$6.95; seniors-$3.00; children (4-12)-$3.00; children (3 and under)-free.

Laughlin River Tours
Steamboats on the Colorado River. Available for weddings, special events and dinner cruises. Information: 702-298-1047; 800-228-9825; P.O. Box 29279, Laughlin 89029. Hours: 10:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m., daily. Season: Year-round; winter hours may vary. Admission: Adults-$10.00; children-$6.00; children (under 3)-free.

London Bridge Jet Boat Tours
Scheduled 6-hour round-trip jet boat tours from Laughlin to the London Bridge on Lake Havasu. Leaves from the Pioneer Casino. Information: (702) 298-5498 or (888) 505-3545; P.O. Box 508, Laughlin 89029. Hours: 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. daily form mid-Feb.-Nov. $52.00 per person; over 65-$47.00; children (under 12)-$32.00.

Liberace Museum
Memorabilia from the world-famous pianist and legend, including a rare piano collection, automobiles, the world’s largest rhinestone plus samples from his glittering wardrobe. Information: 702-798-5595; Fax 702-798-7386; www.liberace.org or 1775 E. Tropicana, Las Vegas 89119. Hours: 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Mon.-Sat.; 1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m., Sun. Year-round except major holidays. Admission: Adults-$12.00; seniors-$8.00; students-$8.00; children (10 and under)-Free.

Star Trek: The Experience
See the USS Enterprise bridge, ride a turbo lift and experience a shuttlecraft mission. Enjoy dining, shopping and gaming in the 24th century. Information: 702-697-8751; 888-462-6535; www.startrekexp.com; Las Vegas Hilton, 3000 Paradise Rd., Las Vegas 89109. Hours: 11:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m. daily, year-round, Admission: $14.95. Live long and prosper!

Zoological-Botanical Park
Endangered cats, the last of the Barbary Apes, chimpanzees, eagles, ostriches, emus, parrots, wallabies, flamingos, exotic reptiles. Information: 702-647-4685; http://www.lasvegaszoo.org
1775 N. Rancho Dr., Las Vegas 89106. Hours: 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. daily, year-round. Adults-$5.95; seniors 62 and over and children 2-12 – $3.95; children (under 2)-free.

NEVADA FACTS

Capital: Carson City
Population: 1,998,257
Governor: Kenny Guinn(R, to January 2007)
Entered the Union: October 31, 1864
As the: 36th state
Motto: All for Our Country
Nickname: Sagebrush State, Silver State, and Battle-born State
Flower: Sagebrush
Bird: Mountain Bluebird
Song: Home Means Nevada
Sports Teams: None
Origin of Name: From a Spanish word meaning snowcapped

Major Industries:
Hay, Alfalfa Seeds, Barley, Wheat, and Potatoes; Gaming Equipment, Lawn and Garden Irrigation Devices, Titanium Products, Seismic and Machinery Monitoring Devices (Plus Divorce and Gambling!)
Historical Sites:
Las Vegas Mormon Fort, Stokes Castle in Austin, and the Pony Express Station in Elko
Points of Interest:
Hoover Dam, Pyramid Lake, Lake Tahoe, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Lehman Caves at the Great Basin National Park, Las Vegas, and Reno
Bordering States:
Nevada borders California, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Arizona.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *