Actually, we’re in Henderson (about 15 minutes outside LV proper). Nic is here for work-related meetings, and I’m tagging along, doing some of my own work—and, of course, taking the opportunity to explore.
We haven’t made it onto the Strip yet. Instead, I spent about 11 hours yesterday on a tour of Death Valley and the Mojave Desert. For reasons that I can’t exactly pinpoint, Death Valley has always been on my travel bucket list, so visiting it was a dream come true. I’ll be posting much more about my experience (including enduring temps that hit 124°), but let’s start with Rhyolite, a ghost town located about 120 miles north of Vegas, on the eastern border of Death Valley.
The first stop on this leg of our tour was the Goldwell Open Air Museum, which our guide described as a selection of sculptures and other works created by a group of Belgian artists “under the influence of some mind-altering substances”. While I cannot verify the last part of that statement, I will say that there are some interesting pieces, particularly the Ghost Rider and The Last Supper. Seeing these and other sculptures against the start desert sky was, well, a trip.
From there, we quickly drove up the road to Rhyolite (you could also easily walk, but it was hot—or so we thought!). If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I have a special affinity for modern ruins, so I was excited to see the remnants of this ghost town. Founded in 1905 after prospectors discovered a football-sized gold nugget in the surrounding hills, Rhyolite was a booming mining town for a few years, until the 1907 financial panic helped destroy it. By 1920, its population had sunk from 5,000 to zero. Today, all that remains is a smattering of buildings, from a bank to a brothel.
I’d love to spend more time at Rhyolite, poking around the ruins (you can’t actually enter them, but photographic opportunities are still plentiful). But even a quick 20-minute stop yields a bounty of interesting facts and stunning photos. You can certainly do a solo trip, but I felt that my tiny group (just three of us, plus our awesome, well-informed guide) benefited from our tour.
Rhyolite and the Goldwell Open Air Museum are both FREE to visitors. Drive in or take a walk around the property—but keep an eye out for rattlesnakes!