Here’s a fun, bilingual nature fact: Las Vegas is Spanish for “the meadows.” Many years ago, when the aquifer beneath this Southern Paiute land bubbled up in springs that fed grasses, flowers and mesquite trees, a Spanish explorer happened upon our Valley and rightly called it a meadow, because it obviously was.
Today, weekend travelers see Las Vegas as mostly concrete, asphalt, chlorinated water, electricity, non-native trees and rock. But anyone who has lived in this Valley for more than a week knows that it contains pockets of natural beauty—places that look wholly unlike the Vegas the world has come to know. Here, knowledgeable explorers can find lush parks, meadows, wetlands, forests, even orchards. The real Las Vegas is out there. You only need to know where to look.
Photographs by Wade Vandervort