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I love Red Rock Canyon. The year I turned 29 in Las Vegas, I drove out to visit the blazing red faces of the canyon on my birthday. I was feeling so melancholy, and a bit nostalgic, I guess. I always thought it might be cool to get married in Red Rock. There are many companies that do it: they bring you in a car, limo, helicopter or horse; however you please. As much as I love nature, it just didn’t seem like it would work. It was hot, far from the Strip and god: the red dust! Can you imagine? It just wasn’t for us.

Luckily, I heard about the Springs Preserve. It struck a balance. It was close to the Strip, recognized Las Vegas history (the preserve marks the spot where a natural spring water source was found. It was the thing that originally drew people to Vegas before gambling did.) and has beautiful xeric gardens of desert plants. Historical, ecological and affordable. The holy grail for me!

I visited in July 2009 for a site visit, and was impressed by what I saw. I also melted under the sun, even though it was just 10am. That could have been the tequila from the night before winding it’s way out of my body, though.

"cactus alley"

"cactus alley" My tour guide said they held a wine tasting there once.

garden path

garden path leading to the arboretum

The Springs Preserve is 180 acres of natural landscape, trails, gardens and educational buildings that came into being a few years ago. It’s just a few miles off the Strip, on historic land. The vision was to preserve some of Las Vegas history, but also to move towards a sustainable future. Although the land has been recognized as a historical site for 30 years, it was only recently that it was shaped into a museum of sorts. There is an actual natural spring on the land, and it was the reason people started living in Las Vegas to begin with. Because what does a desert need more than water?

main rotunda

main rotunda. oh, the photo potentials!

I can’t say enough about the place. I would revisit it again in a heartbeat to fully explore the trails and exhibits. I only got a forty-five minute tour from one of the party planners, but she was so luminous and exuberant (as were all the other staff we met) I can only imagine what fun it is to work there or have an event there.

They hold lectures and classes on desert landscaping and xeric gardening, yoga classes, bird watching tour, outdoor movies, as well as huge (Cirque du Soleil launch parties) and small events (a four person vow renewal). There is Wolfgang Puck catering on site, and an array of gardens and indoor spaces to hold an event. All guests get access to all of the displays and gardens when they attend events as well.

Oh, and the thing that I thought was the coolest? The desert organism exhibits which displayed tarantulas, scorpions and other desert lifeforms. I happen to collect such creepy crawlers. If that isn’t Kelly, I don’t know what is.

Gardens Ampitheatre

Gardens Arboretum

Gardens Arboretum

Sky through the Desert Living Centre Rotunda

Entrance to the ORIGEN

Inside the ORIGEN rotunda

Museum in the ORIGEN. The exhibit rotates.

Inside the ORIGEN.