An excellent guidebook on Southern Nevada, "Geologic Tours in the Las Vegas Area," is now available with updated content and GPS coordinates. If you hurry, you can still obtain the newly released edition in time for holiday gift-giving. Sure to please desert lovers and Nevada buffs, the guide will be a welcome addition to collections of reference materials on the state.
First published in 1994, then revised and expanded in 2000, the 2008 version sells for $27.95, plus shipping. Limited to just 2,000 copies, the edition may soon sell out. Order "Geologic Tours of the Las Vegas Area," Special Publication 16 on the Web at www.nbmg.unr.edu, by phone at (775) 682-8766 or (775) 784-6691, or by fax at (775) 784-1709.
Part of a series developed by the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology at the University of Nevada, Reno, the soft cover guidebook with spiral binding opens flat for easy access while traveling the suggested short tours. The 144-page guide contains maps, drawings and color and black and white photos. Notations in the text indicate listings in the new GPS coordinates section at the back of the book. A new cover design folds over to conceal the spiral binding.
The guidebook outlines five major tours looping from Las Vegas into outlying areas of Southern Nevada with numerous possibilities for side trips off the main routes. It contains enough material to keep you busy on many pleasurable outings. Its translations of complex scientific data into layman's terms provides a short course in geology. Historical insets and notes on plants and animals detail the effects of geology on life in this desert region.
The first suggested route takes explorers through the Red Rock area past Blue Diamond and the historic ranches at the base of the colorful sandstone cliffs and back to Las Vegas, a favorite sojourn through spectacular scenery and fascinating history listed as one of Nevada's notable backcountry by-ways.
The second route also follows a listed by-way up into the high, forested Spring Mountains. A favorite for getting away from the heat in summer or experiencing snow in winter, the scenic area attracts thousands of visitors.
The third goes over Frenchman's Mountain, along the Northshore Road, into river valleys and first settled by American natives of prehistory and back to Las Vegas through beautiful Valley of Fire. The valleys along the Muddy and Virgin Rivers still support farming and ranching, rapidly becoming endangered lifestyles.
The fourth outing explores the Lake Mead area and visits points of interest such as Hoover Dam and historic Eldorado Canyon. It details the importance of the construction of the dam, the first in a series of structures harnessing the Colorado River to provide power and water to much of the desert Souhwest. It interprets the history of mineral production in our areas as it passes by old diggings and mines long closed, including Nevada's first gold mine, now open for tours.
The fifth tour concentrates on the Vegas Valley. Using streets you drive every day, this trip takes you past significant geological features you never before noticed and over active faults in the earth you never knew existed.
With its informative guidebooks, the bureau aims to help people discover, explore, understand and appreciate the complex geology of the Silver State. If you like the guidebook on your area, you may want to discover more parts of Nevada with other guides in the series. Covering a swath through the center of the state, "Traveling America's Loneliest Road" follows U.S. 50 from Lake Tahoe to the historic communities lying east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. "Geologic and Natural History Tours of the Reno Area" explores Western Nevada.
The bureau's Web site provides information for the growing number of people using GPS systems for fun and information. Those visiting the site find descriptions of excursions for geo-tripping or Nevada earth caches to download free of charge. They also find several links for more GPS adventures.
Margo Bartlett Pesek's column appears on Sundays.