105°F
weather icon Clear

Escape urban bustle at Floyd Lamb Park

A survivor of the last ice age, Tule Springs in the northern part of the Las Vegas Valley became a vital oasis as the climate grew hotter and drier and lush wetlands turned to desert. The water and vegetation would attract wildlife and scattered bands of native hunter-gatherers. Over time the oasis was variously used as a livestock ranch and farm, a stage line stop, a railroad watering stop, and a divorce resort. The historic ranch is now at the heart of a popular city park in rapidly growing Las Vegas. Officially named Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs, it is widely known simply as Tule Springs.

The rugged Sheep Mountains form a beautiful backdrop for the park, which lies adjacent to the new Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument. Created in 2014, the national monument protects the remains of ice age animals drawn to the ancient wetlands where some became mired and died. The monument remains undeveloped, but hikers and horseback riders may access the area from Las Vegas and North Las Vegas streets around the park and east of it. The chalky soil of the former wetlands is evident along some park access roads and trails through washes and open desert.

To reach Tule Springs, drive north on U.S. Highway 95 and turn right at exit 93 onto Durango Drive. Follow Durango through the light at Grand Teton Drive. Continue north to Brent Avenue. Turn right to reach the park access road and the fee booth at the entrance. Fees for the day-use area are $6 per car or $1 for those entering on foot, on bikes or on horseback. Frequent visitors should inquire at the booth about money-saving annual fees, especially the bargain annual fee for senior citizens.

The park attracts more than 200,000 visitors a year who come for picnics, birding, fishing, biking, hiking, horseback riding and photography. Once located far from downtown, it is now an open-air island in a sea of development. Tule Springs offers visitors respite from city traffic, bustle and noise. The park is open daily, though its hours of operation change with the seasons. From September through April, hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. From May through August, it is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Check the city’s parks website to reserve a picnic site on busy upcoming holidays like Easter and Mother’s Day.

From the entrance, follow the meandering road to parking areas near family and group picnic shelters and four ponds stocked with fish. Anglers must have Nevada licenses. Ducks, geese and peacocks wander near the water and on lawns surrounding white-painted ranch buildings and fences. Shade trees, fruit trees and shrubbery break up the open acreage.

The trails through the washes and desert area east of the ranch and lakes may also be reached by turning on Racel, a side street about a mile south of the park entrance where there is some parking. Desert wildflowers are starting to reward hikers using the trail network, which has scattered bench seating with shade structures. Bring drinking water, dress in layers and wear sunblock and a hat.

The water at Tule Springs made it possible for native people to grow their small patches of corn, beans and squash. One of a string of owners, early settler John Herbert Nay bought the land and water rights at Tule Springs in 1916 and farmed there until 1928. Prosper Goumond of Las Vegas then bought the property for a ranch and family retreat in 1941. He soon took advantage of Nevada’s liberal divorce laws to turn the site into a resort where guests waited out the state’s six-week residency requirement in a comfortable Western setting.

Facing the threat of development in 1964, Tule Springs was saved when the city of Las Vegas purchased the land and turned it into a park. But it proved difficult for the city to maintain, and in 1977 the land was acquired by the state and renamed Floyd Lamb State Park. Decades later, after urban growth crowded the oasis, it was deemed better suited as a city park. The city reacquired the area in 2007 and it was renamed Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs.

Margo Bartlett Pesek’s Trip of the Week column appears on Sundays.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Hike, bird-watch, shop, nibble at China Ranch Date Farm

A verdant oasis hidden in a secluded canyon, China Ranch Date Farm near Death Valley National Park is an excellent cool-seasondestination.

Utah ghost town is rich in pioneer history

Surrounded by serene pastures and stately groves of trees with the soaring cliffs of Zion National Park for a beautiful backdrop, tiny Grafton ghost town invites visitors to step into its pioneer past.

Bring home priceless memories on a Christmas tree cutting adventure

If you’re pining for a freshly cut Christmas tree this holiday season, you could go to one of the pop-up, tented tree lots that dot the Las Vegas Valley this time of year. But if you’re feeling more adventurous, you could round up the family and make a day of it by traveling to more forested parts of Nevada, as well as Utah, Arizona and California, to search for a perfect tree to harvest yourselves.

Holiday trains make for memorable excursions in Southern Nevada

Southern Nevadan families seeking special experiences for their youngsters should consider a holiday train ride. Long after memories of other holidays fade, most children fondly recall the year they rode the train with Santa.

Now is the best time of year to visit Death Valley

The hottest, driest and lowest national park, Death Valley is well-known for its blistering summer temperatures. For that reason, the best time of year to visit is what’s considered the offseason in most other parks: mid-October to mid-May.

Side road through Moapa Valley leads to scenery, history

Autumn is a prime time to explore Southern Nevada’s side roads into places bypassed by our busy freeways and major highways. State Route 169 through Moapa Valley provides just such an enjoyable drive.

Beatty Days festival salutes town’s history

The three-day event, planned for Nevada Day weekend, celebrates Beatty’s founding in the early 1900s and its heritage of mining and ranching. It draws hundreds of visitors to the community of about 1,200 people located 115 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

Fall is a fine time to visit Spring Mountain Ranch

Mellow autumn days linger late in the season at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park in the scenic Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area west of Las Vegas.