Monday, May 17, 2010

Las Vegas, part two

An attraction of another sort can be found near the quiet, shaded community of Boulder City, located southeast of Las Vegas. Boulder City is the gateway to Hoover Dam, a 726-foot-high concrete structure that creates Lake Mead. The dam, considered one of the seven manmade wonders of the world, offers tours of its electricity-producing system, which was completed in 1935. Tours begin at the Visitors Center which offers fabulous views of the dam from the observation level.
Lake Mead is the largest manmade lake in the Western Hemisphere. Both it and Lake Mohave to the south are part of the Lake Mead National Recreational Area, which is operated by the National Park Service. The recreational area offers five developed beaches and marinas, campgrounds, and other services. Boat and Jet Ski rentals are available at several points on the lake, and sightseeing boats, including the Desert Princess sternwheeler, also ply its waters. On the northeast side of Lake Mead, about 55 miles from Las Vegas, a State Scenic Byway leads travelers through the Valley of Fire State Park. Valley of Fire earned its name because of its bright red sandstone mountains and valleys. In places, the wind has sculpted the sandstone into hauntingly beautiful shapes that seem to mutate with the changing light of day. The park also has several fine examples of prehistoric Indian petro glyphs.
The nearby Lost City Museum at Overton is a storehouse of artifacts from the Anasazi or “Ancient Ones”, a prehistoric tribe that lived in the area thousands of years ago. The exhibits include a full-size replica of the type of adobe dwelling inhabited by those ancient people.
Mesquite, located north-east of Las Vegas on the Virgin River, is a rapidly developing resort town with golf and spa packages, horseback riding, trap shooting and all the indoor activities for which Nevada is famous. Mesquite is conveniently located for side trips to nearby Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks.
Approaching the Nevada state line from Southern California, drivers are greeted by the bright lights of Primm and Jean. Once lonely highway outposts, the towns are now major resort areas with golf, a designer outlet mall and unique hotel-casinos that boast several amusement rides, including The Desperado, one of the tallest roller coasters in the world.
In the extreme southern tip of Nevada on the Colorado River is the community of Laughlin. In 1966, Laughlin consisted of a small motel and restaurant that catered to local fishermen. While the fishing remains great, Laughlin has been transformed into a lively resort town of world-class hotels offering big-name entertainment and first-class accommodations. Right on the river, visitors can water-ski, swim, boat or relax on the many beaches. A popular attraction is the water taxis, taking passengers from Arizona to Nevada and back.
Halfway between Laughlin and Las Vegas is the former mining town of Searchlight. Visitors will find a fine, small museum as well as picturesque mining head-frames on the hills around the town.
From the neon lights and fabulous hotel resorts of the Las Vegas Strip to the peaceful hiking trails of Mount Charleston and Valley of Fire, the Las Vegas Territory offers an endless supply of fun and excitement.

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