As anyone who has lived in Las Vegas any amount of time should know, the seasons here do not always come when they are supposed to. While it was coats and heater weather only two weeks ago, it seems that spring has already arrived this year despite it being mid-February. The summer heat will not doubt be upon us in the very near future, so now is the time to take advantage of the outdoors while we can.
One of the best spots in the Las Vegas Valley to experience nature is the Clark County Wetlands Park. Located near the Sam Boyd Stadium on Tropicana and Broadbent in the east side of town, the Wetlands offers free trails, a visitor center, and plenty of wildlife. Birds flock through the tall trees and the abundance of water and foliage draws rabbits, coyotes, and even a few beavers.
The visitor center has a free exhibit hall in which anyone can learn about the various animals that live in the nature park. The exhibits are impressive; there is a mock bird viewing area, puzzles, interactive displays, and smell canisters to learn how to identify creatures by the pleasant or not so pleasant smells they leave behind. The little ones are sure to love it. There is an indoor lunch room with free Wi-Fi for visitors to enjoy the nature scenery from an air conditioned area.
The Las Vegas Wash passes through the park and provides the water which is redirected to the numerous ponds to be found around the trails. The Big Bridge, as it known, takes you over the wash and gives hikers a great view of the wash and the small waterfall created by the water management system that regulates the water flow. This area is simply amazing due to the amount of water and lush landscape.
Duck Creek, which enters Las Vegas at the extreme southwest of the valley and meanders through the city intersects Broadbent on the edge of the Wetland park. The area known as the Duck Creek Trail has a series of paved trails that wind through the reeds. The trails all end at a dirt road lined with ponds, which have dozens of ducks and other wildlife. The trailhead used to be a sunken dirt lot, but has since been thoroughly renovated and now has picnic tables and restroom facilities.
The Sunrise Trail head is located on the east side of the park, on the other side of the bridge and highlights the stark contrasts our desert is known for. While the Wetlands area is ripe with thick vegetation, the sunrise trail head is mostly tightly compacted dirt and sand dunes. A mountain bike trail wraps through the area, but you can walk the trail as well. For the equestrians, horse riding is permitted in this area and the large parking lot is quite ideal for trucks and trailers.
Then there is the Pabco Trailhead. This one is still a work in progress, but there is a nice spot to view the wash. You can hike up a dirt road that goes alongside the wash, but it is not a maintained trail.
The vast majority of trails in the Wetlands Park are handicap accessible and paved. The trails make for easy walking and are great for both children and the elderly. The Clark County Wetlands Park is located at 7050 Wetlands Park Lanen, Las Vegas, NV 89122 and is open dawn to dusk. For more info go to the clarkcountynv.gov website. More photos and information about the park as it appeared in 2009 can be found here. Another very cool place for seeing birds is the nearby City of Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve.