Sometimes, it's just best to get away from it all.
Spring Mountain Ranch State Park is the perfect place to do just that. Located within the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Spring Mountain Range State Park sits right beneath Wilson Range's rainbow-colored cliffs. Not only will you get up-close views of the beautiful mountains, you'll also enjoy unique hiking grounds.
During the summer, Spring Mountain Ranch offers nighttime flashlight hikes. See the bright moon and stars closer than you ever imagined. You'll also see unique wildlife.
The .8-mile long Ashgrove trail takes you through a native grove of trees, meadows and a dry wash. If you stand still, there's a good chance you'll see wild animals. Overlook Trail opens at 8 a.m. and closes one hour before park closing.
One of park's hidden gems is Lake Harriet, home to a variety of ducks and endangered Pahrump pool fish. You can easily lose track of time just admiring the beauty of this area. This is also a great place to walk your dog -- just make sure your pup's on a leash.
Historical sites at the park include the main ranch house, Wilson cemetery, sandstone cabin, blacksmith's shop, hay and horse barn/corral, a two-hole outhouse and a chinchilla shed. Historic guide tours are available at noon, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. on weekdays and noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. on weekends. During guided tours, you can see a bunkhouse and an old cabin. If you miss the tour, you can still check out the blacksmith's shop on your own.
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the main ranch house features fascinating history of celebrities who once lived here. See Howard Hughes' bar, as well as personal belongings of German actress Vera Krupp. Volunteers can show you around and answer any questions. The gift shop inside the ranch house carries a lot of fun items including apparel, cookbooks, stuffed animals and even cactus jelly and cactus syrup.
History comes to life with special programs at the ranch. Offered during the spring and fall seasons, see costumed role playing and reenactments of historic events, including tales of early settlers and the Civil War. Actors tell tales in first person, so you truly feel like you're going back in time.
Spring Mountain Ranch is also popular for its outdoor "Super Summer Theatre" series that runs every May through September. The whole family can enjoy musicals and plays at an outdoor theater. Call (702) 594-7529 for show and ticket information.
Keep in mind that at 3,800 feet, Spring Mountain Ranch is usually 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the Las Vegas Valley. Make sure to bring a camera and take photos of all the desert plant life. These include desert scrub, black brush, pinon-juniper and riparian desert marigold, globe mallow, brittlebrush, Joshua tree, Mohave Yuccan and Indigo bush. After a good winter rainfall, the spring brings a burst of wildflowers. Fun fact: Some of the trees here are more than 400 years old. Please be careful and do not climb them.
While there's plenty of animal life, a lot of them only come out at night. These include lizards, snakes, squirrels, kit fox, jackrabbits, cotton tails and wild burros. Bighorn sheep, rock squirrels, badgers and mule deer dwell in higher elevations.
There is a huge picnic area as soon as you enter the park. Open from 8 a.m. until dusk, this is peaceful place to relax and enjoy a meal.
-- Review by Jeannie Garcia