Just 15 miles west of Las Vegas lies the small town of Blue Diamond. It is so idyllic that standing there makes you feel as if you have been photo-shopped into a picture. Burros roam around freely in open fields, while the surrounding mountain range forms a natural frame. This is where we spent the first half of our second day in Nevada.
Blue Diamond is located by the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Before we made our way to the Red Rock Canyon itself, we decided to visit the town’s Spring Mountain Ranch State Park. Back in the day, this land provided fresh water to the local Native Americans, and later on drew settlers to the area. The state park was once a working ranch and a retreat for owners that included a famous comedian, a German actress, and one of Las Vegas’ early moguls Howard Hughes.
After we parked our car, we did a short hike along one of the park’s trails. We stopped at a pond, which has a footbridge going over it, and took quite a few pictures of the surrounding area. The park’s higher elevation allows many different types of plants to exist. There are Joshua trees, cacti, desert scrub, and wildflowers among many others.
Sensing that we were getting a little hungry, we headed back to the car to get our sandwiches. Fortunately the state park has a wide grassy space that is specifically designated for picnics and various activities. We sat on a tree-shaded bench, and took a moment to relax. There were a lot people out on this beautiful day. We saw boys playing soccer, kids flying kites, and families enjoying barbecue.
Adjacent to the fenced-in picnic area is the main ranch house where visitors can obtain more information about this site. Everyone is welcome to tour the interior of the house, but we decided to skip it due to a time constraint.
Instead, we continued on to hike another trail. This time we were looking for a spring-fed reservoir called Lake Harriet. Along the way, we passed by a few historic cabins.
Lake Harriet must be one of Nevada state parks’ best hidden gems. The colorful mountain range in the background is reflected on the shallow water of the reservoir. We sat on one of the benches facing Lake Harriet, and the whole time we only encountered one other couple.
Now there was only one thing left on my wish list before leaving Blue Diamond. Johnny and I had read on the internet that many wild burros make this conservation area their home. We spotted a few way in the distant while exiting the state park, but we wanted to see them just a bit closer. A ranger told us that many could be found a few minutes away near the Bonnie Springs Ranch. And sure enough, we saw them everywhere.
It took me nearly 20 years after my first visit out West to discover the town of Blue Diamond. As the name implies, it really is a place of great beauty that will always be treasured.
8000 Blue Diamond Rd
PO Box 124
Blue Diamond, NV 89004