Field Trip · Homeschool · Nature Study

Field Trip – Spring Mountain Ranch State Park

It’s been a month or so since my last post and time sure has flown by.  We’ve been busy getting out and enjoying the beautiful spring weather before it heats up for the summer.   I can’t believe it took us so long to visit Spring Mountain Ranch.  It’s just a quick drive outside of Las Vegas.  I think this was one of our favorite nature study visits so far.  Most of the families in our nature study group head home from these outings after about 2 hours.  There are a few families with younger kids that usually stick around longer.  The younger kids also lag behind the rest of the group and this trip was no exception.  I think we were there for almost five hours. 

This is a great resource in our community to learn about the history of the early settlers of this region.  The old buildings are still standing and there are many opportunities in the spring and fall to see living history programs.  There is a main ranch house where visitors can go on a self-guided tour to learn more about the ranch.  It wasn’t open the day we visited because they didn’t have enough volunteers that day. You can find more information on their website.  Here are some highlights of our visit.

 

burro outside of Spring Mountain Ranch
burro outside of Spring Mountain Ranch

Right after turning up the road to the entrance we spotted five wild burros hanging out on the side of the road.  The others were a bit hidden by the Joshua trees but this one watched us intently for several minutes.

 

one of the former ranch buildings
one of the former ranch houses

There’s a trail that leads from the parking and picnic area to the lake.  Along the path are several old buildings.  These are blocked off unless you are on a tour.  We’ll be back another day to get a closer look.

one of the former ranch buildings
one of the former ranch houses

 

tent caterpillars
tent caterpillars

These are Western Tent Caterpillars which weave a tent around themselves for protection.  They crawl out of the tent to eat and then climb back in.  We’ve seen many of these on our adventures but I don’t think we’ve actually seen one emerge.  Here are some great pictures and more information from the USDA Forest Service.

 

Lake Harriet at Spring Mountain Ranch
Lake Harriet at Spring Mountain

They call this a lake but this would definitely be more like a pond where I grew up.  There’s an easy walking trail that goes all the way around.  There are “no swimming” signs posted but it’s really hard to keep the girls out of water.  They waded in up to their ankles, dug into the mud and fished with long sticks that they gathered.  I brought along a change of clothes for Comedian because we were at the end of potty training and you never know where the nearest bathroom is on these nature adventures.  As I grabbed her extra clothes, I figured that I should bring some for Storyteller just in case.  They really came in handy because the girls ended up soaking wet.

lake at Spring Mountain Ranch
Lake Harriet at Spring Mountain Ranch

 

Ranch house
Ranch house

This is the newest ranch house which was turned into a museum with a self-guided tour.  This was closed on the day we were there due to a shortage of volunteers.  We were told to call the day before coming and they should be able to tell us if it will be open.  A few weeks later I was talking to a Ranger working at a Nevada State Parks booth at the county fair.  He happened to be from this park and mentioned that they offer free 1 1/2 to 2 hour presentations for school groups, including homeschoolers.  When the presentation is scheduled, they will guarantee that the ranch house is open.  For this visit, our group just showed up but it would be fun to arrange for the presentation next time.

The weather is cooler out there than in the city so this will be a great place to go during the summer. They have many events but they’re not all listed on their website. Check out their Facebook page for a more up to date listing. It looks like our nature study group will be returning soon so we’re looking forward to another great day exploring with friends.

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