There are many fascinating animals that call Nevada home, including native animals, those that migrated, and those that live at local zoos. If your children are interested in animals, they have many opportunities to see animals up close and learn more about them at a variety of cool destinations around the Las Vegas area. That’s why Crème de la Crème of Las Vegas on Durango Drive put together this list of the best places to go see wildlife around Las Vegas.
“Day Gecko Hanging Out” licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Flickr by Monkeystyle3000
Springs Preserve is made up of various museums, galleries, and wildlife habitats where you and your family can learn more about Nevada’s natural resources and view a diverse collection of wildlife. Inside the Origen Museum, you’ll find live animal exhibits that house native animals like Gila monsters, rabbits, gophers, lizards, and much more. Then, visit the Botanical Garden to walk among the beautiful butterflies.
Head out onto the trails to spot native wildlife, like squirrels, lizards, insects, foxes, and rabbbits, in their natural habitats. There are four distinct trails of varying lengths that take you past various outdoor habitats, scenic overlooks of the springs, and educational pitstops. Be sure to stop by the wetlands birds’ habitat on the Cienga Trail to see orioles, the Western Screech-Owl, and herons. Go meet Mojave Max in the Desert Tortoise Habitat on the western side of the outdoor museum.
There are other non-wildlife-related exhibits, too. At the Nevada State Museum, you can learn about the state’s geological and environmental evolution. Step back in time at Boomtown 1905 and see an old desert time come to life. Learn all about how the Las Vegas Valley Water District treats and delivers water at WaterWorks. And you can visit a fully solar-powered home inside the Botanical Garden.
General admission tickets costs $9.95 for adults and $4.95 for children aged 3 to 17 years. Kids aged 2 and under get in for free.
Flamingo Wildlife Habitat
Head to the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel & Casino to see the on-site wildlife habitat, known simply as the Flamingo Wildlife Habitat. While this habitat is home to many pale pink Chilean flamingoes, you’ll also catch glimpses of other exotic waterfowl, Brown Pelicans, and native hummingbirds. Be on the lookout for other animals in these habitats, too, like turtles, koi fish, sturgeon, and Albino catfish.
What’s more, you can even get up close and personal with some of the birds. You walk right by many of the colorful feeders that the hummingbirds love so much, so you may hear buzzing and see fluttering wings during your visit. The habitat also occasionally hosts pelican feedings for guests, too. And even better is the fact that this area is totally free to visit.
Clark County Wetlands Park
Right out in the Mojave Desert is the Clark County Wetlands Park. This natural area features multiple trails that you and your family can go spotting for wildlife. You’ll find four distinct habitats in the park, including a water-rich wetland, a lush riparian area, a wooded meadow, and of course, desert. In each habitat is a diverse population of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and insects, including dragonflies.
Around the wetlands, you can find waterfowl, like American coots, blue heron, and egrets. You might catch sight of a coyote, but you’re more likely to see the tracks and scat of mammals such as beavers, raccoons, badgers, and foxes because these animals are more active at night. In the water, you can find mosquito fish, sunfish, and carp, none of which are native to the area. Look for softshelled turtles, whiptail lizards, and red racer snakes (which are non-venomous).
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Another great hiking area where you can spot wildlife is the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. You can also go rock climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding, and picnicking in the park, too. But no matter what activity your family chooses, you have the chance to see some really cool animals.
Some of the mammals you might see include mule deer, gray foxes, burros, coyotes, bobcats, kangaroo rats, desert cottontail rabbits, and desert sheep. Reptiles and amphibians, such as the red racer snake, safebrush lizard, the Western fence lizard, toads, and chorus frogs, call this area home. Watch hawks and spotted towhees soar the skies. Insects like jumping spiders, the Western tent caterpillar, scorpions (watch out!), the Painted Lady butterfly, and tarantulas complete the ecosystem.
If you have an avid animal lover or outdoor adventurer in the family, considering downloading the kid-friendly activity books and field guides from the Bureau of Land Management‘s website. Have your kids work on these before or after heading to the park to further inspire their love and respect of animals and nature.
Desert National Wildlife Refuge
The Desert National Wildlife Refuge spans six mountain ranges and seven life zones. This massive natural area is only a quick drive from the city of Las Vegas. In fact, this area is actually the largest wildlife refuge in the U.S., with the exception of areas in Alaska. The refuge was originally created to protect desert bighorn sheep, the state animal of Nevada. Now, the whole area protects 320 species of birds, 53 mammal species, 35 types of reptiles, and four kinds of amphibians, not to mention the 500 unique plant species.
Since the area is so hot, most of the animals are more active in the evening and at night. However, you might catch glimpses or find signs of tortoises, snakes, rabbits, and, of course, bighorn sheep. There are also ponds and other small waterways where you can find the only remaining Pahrump Poolfish. In addition, much of the area is fanastic for bird watching and spotting native and migratory species.
So there you have it, five awesome places to take your family to see and learn about wildlife in and around Las Vegas. Did we miss your family’s favorite spot to go wildlife-watching? If so, contact us today. We’ll be glad to add that destination to our list.