LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The Clark County Wetlands Park is nearly 3,000 acres in size and the largest park in the county.
But even with its size, it remains a hidden gem off of East Tropicana Avenue and Wetlands Park Lane.
"We are still a little bit of a secret in the Las Vegas valley. We are the largest park as part of Clark County Parks and Recreation. We have a 210-acre nature preserve with lots of trails to experience and maybe see some wildlife as well," said Ben Jurand, an environmental specialist with the Clark County Wetlands Park.
The park started back in 1991 and has become a major recreational and educational resource in the valley.
The park serves as a popular destination for hikers, bird watchers and is an important part of our water system in Southern Nevada.
"The Wetlands Park is created by all of the water that is used in the Las Vegas valley. The Las Vegas Wash is the main part of the Wetlands Park. That is our urban river. And we collect all of the water from the Las Vegas valley," Jurand said.
Wetlands Park features more than 20 miles of trails, including six miles within the Nature Preserve which is the heart of the park at 210 acres.
"In the nature preserve section, we have six miles of trails. We don't allow dogs or bikes on the nature trail, so we can help protect the animals along with guests to see wildlife," Jurand said.
Some of the popular sights in the nature preserve include the Cottonwood Grove, Boardwalk Pond and Vern's Pond & Island.
"We have several distinct types of habitats and some that you don't normally see in the Mojave desert. We also have very tall trees in the nature preserve area where all of the running water is, and we have recreated all of the natural habitat," Jurand said.
The area has three distinct habitats and miles of paved and unpaved trails, where visitors can escape the city and the desert.
"For those visiting the park, I would recommend visiting the nature preserve as there is a lot to see in just a small area. Each of the different habitats has their own plants and animals to see. There are several areas to explore," Jurand said.
The park is home to more than 300 species of birds and numerous mammals and reptiles have been spotted in the park.
"We have all kinds of wildlife in the park from coyotes to roadrunners to even a few non-venomous snakes and beavers who enjoy making their home with the water," Jurand said.
There is also a 14-mile Wetlands Loop Trail that runs along the park's perimeter, where work is ongoing to complete its full connection.
And several of the park's trails are accessible throughout the eastern part of town - including the Duck Creek Trailhead with shrubs, grass and trees.
"There is a lot to see at Wetlands Park. We have so much water that helps all of the trees and habitats within the park. Visitors say they forget that they are in the desert with being able to experience nature," Jurand said.
Wetlands Park is open year-round to guests and should be included in your outdoor activities in Las Vegas.