A New Botanic Wonder in Las Vegas

Springs Preserve cactus garden in Las Vegas

Barrel cacti at the preserve make a point about thriving with less water.

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Las Vegas is unveiling a splashy new $250 million attraction—and it’s not a casino. On June 8, Springs Preserve opens its gates on the site of ancient artesian springs that served as the area’s water source before drying up in 1962. Spread out over 180 acres three miles from the Las Vegas Strip, the preserve comprises a 2,000-seat amphitheater, a mile and a quarter of hiking trails, interactive museums, desert wetlands brought to life with reclaimed water, and eight acres of botanical gardens.

At the preserve’s Sustainability Gallery, discover the downside of running a lawn sprinkler for two hours a day. Or step up to a workbench to design and construct your own functioning windmill, then place it in a scaled-down wind tunnel to see how much electricity it generates. Nearby, stand over a re-creation of Hoover Dam’s construction and learn about the impact of this engineering marvel on the region’s water supply.

Other exhibits focus on early inhabitants of the Las Vegas Valley. Use a stone mano and metate to grind away the tough coating of seeds that were a major food source for the desert-dwelling Puebloan peoples, or peer through glass at a live Gila monster in its canyon-and-crevice habitat. (702) 822-8344, www.springspreserve.org.

Photography by Roger J. Wyan

This article was first published in May 2007. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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