Part of the fun of a road trip is stopping at attractions along the way that might go unnoticed. Surrounded by desert landscape and history, roads to and from Las Vegas are also pathways to history and nature enclaves. Whether a registered historic place, ghost town, electric business or centuries-old farm, these roadside attractions will add to the spirit of the trip as well as give a different perspective of the southwest.
Kelso Depot
90942 Kelso Cima Road
Essex, CA 92332
(760) 252-6100
www.nps.gov

The Kelso Depot, 95 miles southwest of Las Vegas, is located in the Mojave Desert within the National Park Service Mojave National Preserve. Traveling on Interstate 40 to the south or Interstate 15, the defunct railroad depot has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places and is part of the ghost town of Kelso, California. Built in 1905 to serve the rail line between Utah and Los Angeles, the town thrived through the 1940s, and the depot remained opened until the 1980s. With a renovation that was completed in 2005, the depot showcases its history and serves as the visitors’ center to the area.

Cactus Joe’s Blue Diamond Nursery
12740 Blue Diamond Road
Blue Diamond, NV 89004
(702) 875-1968
www.cactusjoeslasvegas.com

Cactus Joe’s Las Vegas Nursery is 25 miles southwest of Las Vegas in the small town of Blue Diamond, Nevada. The cactus nursery and Asian and Western-themed gardens features cacti, agave, succulents, ocotillo and yucca, as well as a Joshua tree forest, petrified forest and labyrinth. The nursery also features a rock and gift shop, southwestern pottery land and wedding chapel. You can also purchase concrete statues, metal yard art, unique wooden patio furniture, decorative rainbow glass, rocks, gems and minerals. There is an actual Cactus Joe who is an expert in horticulture and the surrounding native Nevada flora and fauna.

China Ranch Date Farm & Bakery
China Ranch Road
Tecopa, CA 92389
(760) 852-4415
www.chinaranch.com

China Ranch is a family-owned and operated date farm 82 miles west of Las Vegas in Tecopa, California. Along with the date palms, there are cottonwoods and willows, with a stream that runs through the area surround the farm. There are 10 varieties of dates with products such as cakes, muffins and bread offered for sale. The ranch has been in existence since the 1850s, and the first crop of dates was planted in the 1920s. A small museum was opened onsite in 2009, exhibiting the history of the area along with a gift shop.

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Nelson, Nevada
www.ghosttowns.com

Nelson, Nevada is located about 40 miles southwest of Las Vegas on the way to the Colorado River and Lake Mohave. The small town operates businesses, including a café, gift shop and museum in a former Texaco gas station. The Techatticup Mine is set up for guided tours, and a crashed plane, used as a movie prop in “3000 Miles to Graceland,” is on the side of the mine as an exhibit, as well as old fire trucks and other vehicles from when the mine was active until 1945.

Pioneer Saloon
310 W Spring St.
Goodsprings, NV 89019
(702) 874-9362
www.pioneersaloon.info

The Pioneer Saloon is the first and oldest bar in Southern Nevada located in Goodsprings, Nevada, a 35-minute drive from Las Vegas on Interstate 15. The walls are made of stamped tin purchased through a Sears and Roebuck catalogue; The saloon may actually be the nation’s oldest stamped-metal building still standing. The bar with the original brass foot rail (installed in 1913) remains as well. Bullet holes have been left in the wall from a card game in 1915. In 1942, actress Carole Lombard was a passenger on the plane that crashed into Mt. Potosi near Goodsprings. Her husband, movie icon Clark Gable, sat at the bar waiting to hear any news about his wife, and his cigarette burns remain embedded in the wood. The Pioneer Saloon continues to operate with an adjoining restaurant, as well as a location for photo shoots, movies, television shows, commercials and video games.

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Debbie Hall is practically a Las Vegas native (37 years and counting) and loves experiencing everything in Southern Nevada from the Las Vegas Strip to the surrounding mountains and Lake Mead. She also teaches at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and loves sharing her knowledge. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.