Just 35 miles south of Las Vegas on the border of Nevada and Arizona is this manmade piece of history. Constructed during the Great Depression, this dam in the Colorado River controls floods, provides irrigation water, and produces hydroelectric power. A concrete structure of its giant, 726 foot size had never been built before its time and some of its construction techniques were previously unproven. Completed in 1936, the Hoover Dam is still sturdy as ever and visitors can enjoy tours around the structure and marvel at the scenery from the top of the dam.
This lake was formed by the Hoover Dam and is the largest manmade reservoir in the United States. There are plenty of outdoor activities offered by Lake Mead National Recreation Area such as swimming, hiking, and boating. Lake Mead is a great opportunity to get away from the craziness of the Strip for a while and just take in the serene nature of the desert.
You don't have to go far to see the true history of Vegas with your own eyes. The Old Mormon Fort was built by the first settlers of the area in 1855, Mormon missionaries, and was used as defense against Native American attack. This makes it the first structure built on the land that would later become the city of Las Vegas. The fort is still standing today and it is the only U.S. state park located in a city that houses the first building ever built in that city. It is located just east of Las Vegas Boulevard.
Hikers visiting Las Vegas will love Red Rock Canyon as a quick trip only 15 miles west of the Strip. There are multiple hiking trails ranging in difficulty open for visitors to explore the various plants and wildlife in the area and enjoy close up views of the large red rock formations that the park is named after. If hiking is not necessarily your thing but you'd still like to see the beautiful nature, a 13 mile scenic drive is another popular option.
At the edge of Red Rock Canyon, another close up look at the history of the area is abundant in the quaint town of Blue Diamond. Blue Diamond got its name from the rich gypsum mine located just north of the town that provided the pharmaceutical grade mineral comparable to the blue diamond of precious stones. Although the mine closed in 2005, there is a strong history committee dedicated to sharing the town's story. The small community has managed to preserve a supreme element of rurality, despite being so close to Sin City.
Take a trip back to the Wild West at this ranch just a half hour away from Vegas. Kids will love the pony and horseback rides and adults will also be entertained by the live shows portraying classic cowboy history like gun fights. There is even a zoo that features desert animals such as wolves and Canadian lynx. Bonnie Springs is the epitome of Western style fun that the whole family will enjoy.
If you're visiting Las Vegas and enjoy the city but are looking for something a little more low key, consider taking the short 30 mile trip south of Vegas to this town. Jean is a small commercial area with no permanent residents but plenty of activities to do. There's the Gold Strike Hotel and Gambling Hall for gamblers looking for a more relaxed environment than the high stakes of Vegas, the Jean Sport Aviation Center for thrill seekers interested in skydiving, and lots of outlet malls for shopping galore. There is also rich history around the area and you can see the last spike that completed the railroad between Salt Lake City, Utah and Los Angeles, California, which was necessary for the uprise of Las Vegas.