“Haunt the Wetlands” a family-friendly event held at the Wetlands Nature Preserve, is absolutely the best the family Halloween experience I’ve found. I saw a flier advertising the event which stated that it was a free event, but you had to register for it online in advance. It sounded like fun so I registered for Haunt the Wetlands assuming it would be just a short walk around a small maze. I thought it would be fun for my three year old but didn’t have high expectations for the event. In this instance, I was completely wrong.
Upon arrival, a sign for “Live Animals” was the first clue that there was much more to this. It directed us into what is normally the cafeteria room, which we went straight to after checking in and dropping off a small donation to the Village of Hope (the flier informed us that they would be accepting donations there). The room is usually just some empty tables and couches, but tonight it was filled with the exotic reptiles and amphibian collection of Chuck Meyer and his wonderful family. Snakes, lizards, spiders, and a large toad were all to be found, safely inside containers spread out across a few tables for everyone to get a close look at.
All of the snakes were non-venomous, although that does not take away from the innate fear most experience when close to these slithering creatures. A few large insects, tarantulas, and a tailless whip scorpion were all present as well. Interestingly, the tailless whip scorpion is not actually a scorpion and is harmless to humans.
Chuck later took one of his pets out of the container for the kids and parents to get an even closer look—a well-fed Sumatran Blood Python. Being short-tailed pythons, these guys are sort of the “short and stocky” breed of the snake family, usually measuring 4-5 feet long and weighing around 15 pounds. Despite the intimidating name, this blood python turned out to be quite gentle and surprisingly soft to the touch.
After getting our fill of reptilians, we decided to head out to the Haunted Maze. The maze was cut into the reeds behind the visitors center and adorned with the ghostly staples one would expect to find. A light rain had sprinkled the area earlier in the day and left the path slightly moist. That mixed with the freshly cut reeds created a smell more indicative of a Midwest corn maze. Weather like that cannot be predicted here, and it made this one day a year event all the more special.
The maze was creepy enough to entertain teenagers and adults but not too scary for the younger children. It was a delicate balance but they pulled it off rather well; no one was disappointed.
The Haunted Maze flowed directly into the Spooky Walk as it wrapped around and ended back on the paved path that leads into the wetlands. The Spooky Walk was more educational, but still tied into the Halloween theme. There were tables set up every ten or fifteen feet along the way, each with staff members there to teach the kids about the different creatures of the night found within the wetlands nature preserve.
These displays featured many stuffed and mounted specimens of these animals, and many of them had something hands-on for the youngsters such as replica skulls or pelts to feel. Foxes, owls, and of course bats are all found right here on the edge of Las Vegas. One interesting detail I picked up from these was that beavers are actually nocturnal. Beavers do live in one of the ponds at the wetlands and can be spotted on rare occasions. Just after sundown or the early morning are the best times to spot them as they are the most active at dusk and sunrise.
I originally expected the event to take up half an hour at most, but by the time we loaded up to go home we had been there almost two hours. Next Halloween you will not want to miss it!
Check the Wetlands Park roster for special events and other programs hosted there throughout the year.