By Debbie Hall

While the bright lights, glitz and glamour of Las Vegas attracts over 42 million visitors a year, there is more to Southern Nevada and surrounding areas. Historic highways and rural towns offer a chance to explore the southwest. It is just not desert terrain either, but mountains, rivers and an incredible night sky. Whether into hiking, photography and other outdoor activities or indoor fun, a road trip to Tecopa will offer relaxation and a new perspective.

Part of the fun of a road trip is stopping at attractions along the way that might go unnoticed. Surrounded by desert landscape and history, roads to and from Las Vegas are also pathways to history and nature enclaves. Whether a registered historic place or centuries-old farm, these roadside attractions will add to the spirit of the trip as well as give a different perspective of the southwest.

Tecopa, California is 82 miles west of Las Vegas and the drive encompasses a different landscape of the high desert close to Death Valley. This is the chance to see different plants, especially flowering cacti, and one can view the Kingston Mountain Range in bloom.

On the way to Tecopa, Cactus Joe’s Las Vegas Nursery is 25 miles southwest of Las Vegas in the small town of Blue Diamond, Nevada. The cactus nursery and Asian and Western-themed gardens features cacti, agave, succulents, ocotillo and yucca as well as a Joshua Tree forest, Petrified Forest and labyrinth. There is also a rock and gift shop, southwestern pottery land and wedding chapel. Set up to view, as well as purchase, is concrete statues, metal yard art, unique wooden patio furniture, decorative rainbow glass, rocks, gems and minerals. There is an actual Cactus Joe who is an expert in horticulture and surrounding native Nevada flora and fauna.

Continuing to Tecopa, the China Ranch Date Farm & Bakery is on the way and with its underground water; the date trees are blossoming and heavy with fruit. The family owned and operated date farm features date palms, cottonwoods and willows with a stream that runs through the area surrounding the farm. There are 10 varieties of dates with products such as cakes, muffins and bread offered for sale. The ranch has been in existence since the 1850s and the first crop of dates was planted in the 1920s. A small museum was opened onsite in 2009 exhibiting the history of the area along with a gift shop.

Once in Tecopa, rest, relax and revitalize at Tecopa Hot Springs Resort located approximately two miles off State Highway 127. With a campground, motel and cabins, natural hot spring water is piped into soaking tubs, silky ancient mineral waters heated by mother earth. There is 24-hour access with two private soaking tubs located in the bathhouse with showers for men and women. Each room with tub has a skylight for natural light. The motel offers three additional soaking tubs and both bathhouse and motel tubs have latches for privacy. The highly mineralized water is known to soothe sore and achy bodies and bodywork by local therapist Karin Pine is available.

The Bistro at the resort is a culinary treasure of New American Cuisine. Culinary delights tempt the palate Friday, Saturday and Sunday whether a finely-crafted meal or a burger and fries. Their goal is to serve nourishing food for body and soul and live music adds to the experience on Saturdays.

A day trip to Tecopa can soothe mind, body and soul.

Cactus Joe’s Blue Diamond Nursery  
12740 Blue Diamond Road
Blue Diamond, NV 89004

China Ranch Date Farm & Bakery
Tecopa, CA 92389

Tecopa Hot Springs Resort
860 Tecopa Hot Springs Road
Tecopa, CA 92389