Blue Diamond like Mayberry USA

Feb 2, 2010 5:00 PM

Around Town by Eileen Di Rocco |

We did a little time traveling over the weekend when we took a ride out to Blue Diamond, a small cozy village with a population under 400 about 20 miles from the Strip.

Established around 1940 as a company town for employees of the near-by gypsum mine (which is still in operation), the only thing that seems to have changed is the trees – they’re taller and now give ample shade to the narrow, winding streets.

Think Mayberry USA and you will have a clear picture. There’s a small grocery store (which is also the gaming establishment in town with four slot machines), a library, post office, volunteer fire department, elementary school, a park and McGhie’s Bike Outpost, which appears to do a thriving bicycle rental business.

For as little as $40 you can rent a bicycle (helmet and pedals included, according to the sign) to ride the trails in the nearby Red Rock Canyon. They also offer guided tours and sell bike clothing and accessories.

But if you are looking for someplace to stop and eat, you will need to travel down the road apiece to Bonnie Springs Ranch, home of Old Nevada, a replica of an 1880’s mining town, a petting zoo and the Bonnie Springs Ranch Restaurant.

After a nice home cooked meal at the restaurant (nothing fancy, but good food and large portions) you can enjoy the rest of the 115-acre ranch.

Old Nevada is a great place for the family. It offers simulated gunfights and other shows that are kid-friendly and open to audience participation. There’s also a wax museum with frontier figures, souvenir shops with plenty of turquoise and silver, and on weekends the miniature train ride is in operation.

The petting zoo is one of the most popular features and gives little ones a close up look at llamas, goats, deer, swans, ducks and even a buffalo. There’s also horseback riding available for those who want to head out into the beautiful desert of the Red Rock Canyon.

A few miles farther down the road, as you work your way back toward Las Vegas, you will come to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and the entrance to the 13-mile scenic loop road that allows you to experience the beauty of the canyon without leaving the comfort of your car.

But, you will want to stop at some of the parking areas to get out and drink in the breathtaking beauty of these mountains. You might even be inspired to head out along one of the many hiking trails.

After taking in all this natural beauty and clearing your mind of unwanted clutter you will be able to head back to Las Vegas, stop at your favorite sports book and make a sound wager on New Orleans to win the Super Bowl, taking the points, which stand at 5½ at press time, but could be 7½ by the weekend.

Go Saints! See you around town.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Eileen Di Rocco