BEYOND THE HOTELS
Las Vegas has many attractions beyond the Strip’s resort hotels and casinos. Following is just a sampling of the sights, parks and museums in the city.
SIGHTS AND PARKS
The Hoover Dam, one of the engineering marvels of the world, and the body of water behind it, Lake Mead, are a must see during any trip to Las Vegas. It is an arch-gravity dam 726 feet high and 660 feet thick at its base. The Hoover Dam project including the dam, the All-American Canal, the town of Boulder City, highways, railroads and various other works, cost $165 million to build. The 1930s price tag on the dam itself was just under $60 million, about 6 percent of the $1 billion spent to construct and open the MGM Grand Hotel, Casino and Theme Park. Tourists can take 35-minute guided tours inside this monolith. Admission is $3 for adults; children under 12 tour free, and senior citizens with a Golden Age Passport pay $1.50.
Valley of Fire State Park
This beautiful desert park is 52 miles northeast of Las Vegas. A visit there is a trip back in time during which visitors can examine red sandstone rock formations that have been carved by centuries of wind erosion into many exotic shapes. The petroglyphs carved by ancient Native Americans into boulders and rock faces are still visible. There is a $3 use fee for the park.
In the city of Overton, a short distance from Valley of Fire, is the Lost City Museum. It contains artifacts from ancient Native American civilizations that once lived along the banks of the nearby Muddy River. Admission to the museum is $2 for those 18 years and older; those under 18 are admitted free.
Red Rock Canyon
Once the home of ancient Native American tribes, this magnificent canyon was formed by a thrust fault — a fracture in the earth’s crust where one rock plate is thrust horizontally over another.
Red Rock Canyon is home to feral horses and burros, as well as various species of wildlife, including desert bighorn sheep and antelope. There is no fee for normal activities in the canyon area.
Within the Red Rock Canyon recreation lands is Spring Mountain State Park. This picturesque ranch, once owned by Howard Hughes and, at another time, by actress Vera Krupp, lies beneath the cliffs of the Wilson range. Springs in the surrounding mountains provided precious water to the early Paiute Indians.
This is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Nevada. The museum, a couple of miles east of the Strip near where Liberace once lived, fills three buildings. One houses the pianos of Mr. Showmanship, including those once owned by Chopin and George Gershwin. Also on display in this building are Liberace’s unique cars. One entire building is devoted to Liberace’s stage wardrobe of multi-sequined costumes that dazzled audiences around the world. A third structure features the extensive memorabilia collected by Liberace during his lifetime. Admission is $6.50 for adults, $4.50 for seniors and $3.50 for students. A sizable portion of the admission goes to the Liberace Foundation for the Performing and Creative Arts, which funds scholarships.
Las Vegas Natural History Museum
This museum has a section that contains a display of mounted sharks and a 300-gallon aquarium for small live sharks. Additionally, visitors will see more than 300 exhibits of modern-day birds and animals. Admission is $5 for adults; $4 for students, seniors and military personnel; $2.50 for children ages 4 to 12, and those under 4 are admitted free.
Guinness World of Records Museum
Affiliated with the book of the same name, the Guinness World of Records Museum houses a collection of world records covering everything under the sun, including the tallest man, the fattest man and the fastest-talking man. Admission is $4.95 for adults; $3.95 for students, seniors and military personnel; $2.95 for children 4 to 12 and those under 4 are admitted free.
Clark County Heritage Museum
Some of this museum’s exhibits are housed in the 1930 Boulder City Railroad depot and some in the new exhibit building. Featured are old railroad cars, a fully restored bungalow home from the Twenties that was built by a pioneer Las Vegas merchant, a replica of a 19th-century frontier print shop and various other structures dating back to the turn of the century. Admission is $1.50 for adults and $1 for senior citizens and children 3 and over. Those under 3 are admitted free.