Spring break a great time to explore state, national parks before Nevada weather heats up

Spring break a great time to explore state, national parks before Nevada weather heats up

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LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Spring break starts when classes are dismissed today at Clark County schools and UNLV. Do you know what you’re going to do with that valuable time?

Not everyone can afford a family trip to Hawaii or a Fort Lauderdale college experience, so here’s a suggestion for the rest of us: explore a state park or a national park. It’s an inexpensive opportunity to get back to nature and spend time together.

And the time is right to hit Death Valley before it heats up. We’ve listed some of the best nearby national parks in a previous story about a free day in September. (Spring break doesn’t offer any free days). Lake Mead, Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce are also terrific choices. And Nevada’s very own Great Basin National Park isn’t that far away.

Death Valley National Park (Photo: National Park Service)

Death Valley recently put up a notice on its Facebook page about free “virtual tours” through a distance learning program. We thought that sounded like a great idea, but the tours are already booked up until March 28.

You might have heard that you can check out a state parks pass from a Clark County Library. The wait list is already about a year for the free passes, so … maybe next year.

There’s a theme here … take the bold step to get in your car and get out there, even if you have to pay a few bucks to get in. The alternative is regret. Don’t let spring break pass you by this year when there are so many things to do.

At Nevada state parks, you’ll find scenery, history and wildlife.

Check out Valley of Fire State Park, or Spring Mountain Ranch. You don’t even need to leave town to see the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort. Floyd Lamb State Park is a great place to get out and walk, and you’ll see peacocks roaming the grounds. Another state park — Ice Age Fossils — is still in the building stage, and not ready for visitors. Most of the state parks are farther north. Cathedral Gorge is an interesting place to explore on a day trip. For fishing, drive farther to get to Beaver Dam, Echo Canyon or Cave Lake (fishing license required). For a river escape, try Big Bend of the Colorado.

Valley of Fire State Park.

Most state parks only charge $5 to get in. Valley of Fire is $10. See a full list of fees here. Camping costs more.

We asked the state if there are any plans to make more passes available through the library.

“We are thrilled that the new Library Park Pass Program has been so well received. State Parks designated this as a pilot program so that it could be evaluated for possible adjustments made down the road. While there are no immediate plans to increase the number of passes in circulation, we will certainly update Nevadans if any significant changes are made,” according to Jenny Jackson, education and information officer for the Nevada Division of State Parks.

She said there has been some confusion about how the program works. You must get on the waiting list for a pass through the library. When it’s your turn, the pass is checked out to you for a week. Jackson said some people have just showed up at the gate, expecting to get in by showing their library card.

Our tip: don’t wait for more free passes. If $5 is stopping you from visiting a place as grand as Valley of Fire, you’re just looking for excuses … or you’re too busy. Either way, it’s a sign that you need a getaway.

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