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Our one-tank excursion through Nevada is going to focus on the very southeastern part of the state. A veritable playground unto itself, it won’t take the odometer long to reveal we’re in the man-made wonderlands of Lake Mead and Las Vegas.
Let’s start by roaming the town of Mesquite, located on I-15 near the Nevada-Arizona border. Duffers won’t want to miss a chance to test their skills on the many public golf courses carved into the rocky desert landscapes here. This resort town is also a prime starting point for exploring the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, located just a few miles east of town. The Valley of Fire State Park, just west of town, is another worthwhile natural wonder to check out.
Head south on Hwy 169 and consider a stop in the nearby town of Overton. The interesting Lost City Museum of Archaeology hosts an impressive collection of Native American artifacts. Overton is a convenient place to begin your exploration of Lake Mead National Recreation Area. This deep and sprawling lake is a recreational paradise where boaters, sunbathers, and fishermen flock nearly year-round. Surrounding the watery areas are impressive desert landscapes adorned with miles of hiking trails to explore the wondrous desert plant and animal life.
Continue along Hwy 169 as it skirts the western shores of Lake Mead. Soon you’ll find yourself surrounded by the greater Las Vegas area. A playground like no other place on Earth, the lights and sights of Las Vegas are something to behold. Start exploring “Sin City” on the famed Vegas Strip, where casinos like the MGM Grand and the Mirage hustle to compete for your attention (and money) often with awe-inspiring results. Away from the Strip, Vegas holds other (kitschy) treasures, including the Liberace Foundation and Museum, Elvis-A-Rama Museum, and Guinness World Records Museum. Outside of town, get back to nature at the stunning Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, a favorite with hikers and bicyclists who enjoy the challenges of the beautiful, rocky desert terrain.
Wrap up your Nevada tour by heading south on Hwy 93/95 towards Boulder City, best known for a true engineering miracle, Hoover Dam. Take the tour to learn all about this feat of American ingenuity that transformed the southwest desert. Another massive engineering challenge is underway right now to relieve interstate traffic over Hoover Dam. Located just 1500 feet from Hoover Dam, the new Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge is due for completion in 2010.