Thursday, May 1, 2014

Oasis Field Trip

 Only minutes from Las Vegas, Spring Mountain Ranch is a Nevada State Park Oasis.  The day we found the park (last Friday), it was so green and beautiful we forgot for a while that we weren't back in Colorado -- a happy illusion made more real by the fact that it was crazy windy, cold, and rainy that day!  You have to know that weather in Las Vegas is about as bland as it comes to understand how thrilled we were to dig out our jackets for this visit last Friday!  It was a chilly 50 degrees -- in late April, when most Las Veganites are going around in shorts and tank tops.  But, HA!  No immodest outfits to have to try to ignore this day!

Take a look at this beautiful old ranch, though! Located on a side-route of the Old Spanish Trail, the artesian springs at the base of this canyon provided water for pioneer campsites as early as the 1830s.  By the 1870s the land had been purchased by Sgt. James Wilson and set up as a ranch (called "Sandstone Ranch").  It's been a working ranch ever since. It was once owned by Howard Hughes (though it's doubtful he ever actually visited).  It changed hands a couple of times after the Hughes empire let it go and eventually -- thank goodness! -- landed in the hands of the Nevada State Parks before it could be developed into condos or casinos.  Which would have been tragic.

 Now the whole 520 acre ranch is a historic site with daily tours, summer concerts, and special events.  They have Civil War battle re-enactments for kids every last Saturday (an activity in which we are so going to participate).   But, really...  Even without all the national park perks (especially exciting to history junkies!)...  Look at this place!  The green meadows and 400 year old cottonwoods, against the stunning backdrop of craggy mountains.... It is truly breathtaking!   And, get this: because of its high altitude, Spring Valley Ranch is always a good 10 to 15 degrees cooler than Las Vegas!  I'm thinking we'll make this park a regular stop in our Nevada wanderings.

Would that beautiful old tree make for an amazing rope swing or what?  I'm guessing the Parks Service would frown on the idea...
The usual suspects...  Check out how we're the only people in the park.  Any kind of REAL weather scares away Las Vegas natives -- which suited us just fine!  We pretty much got the whole park and the tour guides all to ourselves.
Isn't the "new" ranch house (built in the late 1800s and added to throughout the years, into the 1950s) unique and beautiful?  I'd live in this house -- even in Nevada, I'd take it.  (Wish we'd gotten pics of the indoors!)
William and friend.
Yeah, these guys again --  Cathy, Anna, Gabe, Theresa, and William -- blowing in the wind.  No biggie, though.  These are Colorado kids.
"Tweet."  (The old fashioned kind)
The "old" ranch house, built in the mid 1800s
The gang in front of the old blacksmith shop that aided the pioneers traveling this leg of the Old Spanish Trail.  You can see that, by the end of the day, the sun had broken through and we got to enjoy a hike around the property.  Great day!
*  Of all the sites we've seen yet in Nevada, this park is probably our favorite.  The Space Needle and the Luxor have got nothing on this place!

*  Happy Trails, Folks!

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