Mojave Desert Activities for Las Vegas Homeowners
When you think of living in Las Vegas, you probably think of the fabulous Strip with its casinos, resorts, and other man-made wonders. However, for nature lovers the Mojave Desert holds exceptional natural beauty and sites of historical interest. Here, Las Vegas homeowners and their families will find some of the most popular and extraordinary local attractions, all close enough for a family-friendly day trip.
Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area
Established in November 2002, the Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area (NCA) preserves 48,438 acres of southern Nevada’s Mojave Desert for future generations. Forming the line of mountains south of Las Vegas and the City of Henderson, this Las Vegas landmark offers trails for everything from hiking to biking to equestrian rides, along with an exceptional landscape for photographers and visual artists of all kinds.
One of the most culturally significant areas of the Sloan Canyon NCA is Petroglyph Canyon. Boasting more than 300 rock art panels and 1,700 designs, the cultural site preserves artwork from native cultures dating from prehistoric times. Sometimes called a petroglyph gallery, this extraordinary outdoor museum offers you and your family a rare opportunity to experience one of the most significant cultural landmarks in North America.
Imagine an alien landscape filled with eerie spires rising high above the desert floor toward the outer reaches of space. The filmmakers of the Star Trek franchise, Planet of the Apes, and Battlestar Galactica’s showrunner have all turned to the Trona Pinnacles in order to create a real-world setting for their out-of-this-world adventures.
Rising as much as 140 feet out of an ancient lakebed, the more than 500 natural pillars have long been a mainstay of filmmakers and provide the setting for everything from car commercials to sci-fi dramas to prehistoric sagas.
US Naval Museum of Armament and Technology
Also known as the China Lake Museum, this complex dates from 1943, preserving and displaying the weapon development heritage of the storied China Lake armament facility. The site has provided advanced weapon systems development and support for US military missions beginning during World War II and continuing to the present day.
Outdoor exhibits include a production version of the Fat Man atomic bomb, the only surviving F11 Super Tiger fighter jet, a Hornet I, and a Phantom II. Year-round events include fundraisers and a summer science camp where area students can learn more about the history of US military aviation and defense systems.
Mojave National Preserve
This vast, 1.6-million-acre parkland encompasses some of the richest diversity of plant life, animal life, and landscapes in the National Park Service. With singing sand dunes, a Joshua tree forest, canyons, mountains, mesas, and volcanoes along with man-made mines, homesteads, and forts, you’ll find historical, ecological, and cultural wonders to experience and explore.
Among the Mojave’s most iconic landscapes, the Kelso Dunes cover 45 square miles and rise 650 feet above the desert floor. Here you’ll experience the famous singing sands with every step, caused by the movement of hot sands over colder sands below. Run, slide, and play on your way back from the trail’s summit for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Planning Your Visit
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you are planning your visit to the Mojave Desert:
- Access to various areas can be affected by weather elements. Be sure to check conditions before driving to more remote locations.
- Campsite facilities can vary widely in their accommodations and available utilities. Check ahead to be sure that you are well prepared if you decide to camp.
- Some primitive trails may be unidentifiable or hard to locate. Be sure to carry a detailed map or consult a park ranger for information before heading out.
- Remember, GPS may not be available in some remote areas, so you will need to ensure that you plan your route carefully.
- Take a minimum of one gallon of water per person per day, and don’t wait until you are thirsty to rehydrate.
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