Tag Archives: Pahrump

Las Vegas has Wineries?

Where do you go when you need your wine fix and the nearest wineries you know of are in Northern Nevada or over in Northern California?  Pahrump of course!  Las Vegas does not have any wineries-that would be correct.  However, if you drive over the hump (over the mountain) to Pahrump, there are actually two wineries over there.  The whole 20 plus years that I have lived in Las Vegas, I knew there was one winery.  I found out that indeed there are two.  This  trip is just over an hour each direction.  Apparently, the first winery that was there sold out to the second owner and then opened up another one-or at least that is what I was recently told.  

While I had my daughter in town, we went along with a friend each over to Pahrump to check them out.  The first one we went to is called Pahrump Valley Winery and Symphony’s Restaurant. Very classy set up! The entire patron operation is set up amid the vines. You walk in the entry and have the wine bar on the right side with a back bar of all of the wines and their other item store to the left.  As in New Mexico, the tastings in Nevada are no cost.   After our tasting, we decided to have lunch.  While we were pretty casual, one gets a sense that the evening meals they serve are quite a bit more formal.  The food was absolutely delightful.    Did I tell you that I prefer sweet wines?  Not a problem-not only do they have dessert wine, they also have sherry.  This was my first time trying sherry and now I am hooked.

On to the other winery, which is named Sanders Family Winery.  This seems to be the smaller of the two operations (perhaps newer?).  They too sell other items along with wines and I had to take some phone pics while I was there, because they have wreaths on the wall made of wine corks.  They too have sherry for sale as well as their other wines and they introduced us to something new.  When we were done with our tastings, we each got a wine spritzer-made with either port or sherry and some gingerale.  I am hooked.  Of course it makes my purchases last longer as well.  

I have talked this one up and have lots of friends that want to make that trip.  What a party we could have for those that want to go.  This is another one of those trips where I took pictures, but they got deleted.  I promise I will get out there to take pics again.

Pahrump Balloon Festival

During my 21 years of living in Nevada, I have only been over to Pahrump twice before.  The first time was when we first moved here and my husband had to try out his four-wheel drive vehicle, so we went up over Wheeler Peak.  We saw some of the wild horses up at the top and dropped down through the state camping area on the other side then headed into town.  I don’t remember there being that much in Pahrump at that time, but there was enough to grab a bite before we headed back to Las Vegas.  My second trip was related to education and involved visiting one of the schools in Pahrump. I remember there was a Terrible Herbst in town on that trip.  So today, I went over to the Second Annual Pahrump Balloon Festival.  The town has really grown up.  It now has Albertsons, Walmart, Sonic, Denny’s and a whole bunch of other restaurants.

So apparently, balloon festivals are held in many places in Nevada that I wasn’t aware of.  Reno, Las Vegas, Mesquite and now Pahrump each have one.  There were only about 20 balloons today in Pahrump, but there was plenty of excitement.  People volunteered to help with holding the lines on the balloons while they were being inflated by highly powerful fans that amazingly blew them up much faster than I thought could happen.  There were lots of people out there with their cameras, like me snapping pictures.  People were available to form the chase teams to go pick up the balloons when they landed and I learned that the balloonists have a tradition of having Mimosas once the balloons are picked up.

Pahrump Balloon Festival

Pahrump Balloon Festival

There was other excitement too, in the form of a drone flying around and quite a few motorized gliders.  There were so many people in attendance, that Denny’s had quite the time keeping up with all of the customers who came in for breakfast,  but all of the employees were justly apologetic and as pleasant as could be.  One place that I still haven’t gone to out in Pahrump is the winery.  It has been there for years, and it has been recommended by several friends.  But after getting up at 4 am to be out there in time for the ascension, and knowing I had a 90 minute drive back, I wasn’t about to drink any wine this morning.  Depending where you are in Las Vegas, the drive to Pahrump is somewhere between 60 to 90 minutes.

The Road to Somewhere-Las Vegas to Beatty

From the time my son decided to attend the University of Nevada at Reno, I have been making the 8 hour drive with stops at the speed limit several times.   I always have to make stops, but I don’t always go exactly the speed limit.  Sometimes I even get to do the drive with someone, but for the most part, I drive by myself.  In its most basic form, the drive can be broken into roughly four, two hour segments.  But there really is a lot more to it.  Despite being a drive that most people just want to get done, there are some really neat things to see out there.  There are also the little known things.

My drive always starts in Northwest Las Vegas near Durango and Hwy. 95 as I head towards Beatty.  On the way, I pass Kyle Canyon, Lee Canyon, and the road to Cold Creek.  All of these lead up to or over Mt. Charleston, where there is a resort, a ski area, and a four wheel trail over the mountain respectively.  About a year ago, Kyle Canyon experienced the Carpenter 1 Fire which contributed to later serious flooding issues.  Who would have thought that there would be floods in or near Las Vegas?  But that is a separate blog entry.  Lee Canyon has the Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort which is only about 30 minutes away.  While visitors from the far northern parts of the country come to Las Vegas wearing their shorts in the winter, some of the locals are in ski gear up yonder enjoying the snow.  That snow one year even resulted in an avalanche, taking one life with it.  The turn off to Cold Creek has both a federal  and state prison right there.  The road dead ends at Cold Creek, unless you are very adventurous and have 4-wheel drive on a high clearance vehicle. About the second year we lived here, my husband and I drove up over the the mountain.  It was a really rough ride, but it was really cool seeing wild horses at the top. Going down the other side toward Pahrump was a bit smoother as we dropped into a state park and campground.  Of course Pahrump at that time was really small.  It has experienced its own growing pains, although it is still very small by most standards.  Out beyond the Cold Creek turnoff by about 8 minutes is the town of Indian Springs and Creech Airforce Base.  Another small town, one that has stayed small. Most of the Airforce base personnel drive in from Las Vegas.  On an interesting day, one might see people standing by the road protesting the use of drones. Alright, that doesn’t happen often, but it did happen on one of my trips.  It seemed to be protest season in the state during that trip.  A bit beyond that is Mercury, NV.  Mercury is actually the area where they used to test atomic bombs.  I have always been intrigued as to whether going through Mercury would shorten my trip.  So I visited Google Earth to see what I could see out there.  There are all kinds of unidentifiable things out there, as well as some that can be identified.  While you will see vehicles on Google Earth, no one is allowed in there without clearance and it definitely is not open to the public.  If you get your name on the list far enough in advance, and are cleared, you can take one of the yearly tours that goes into the area.  BUT, no phones or cameras allowed.  I think I might pass on that.  Right at about that spot, the highway goes from four lane to two lane.  Anymore, taking that route, you are not alone.  There is always someone out there, it is just a matter of how many someones. You are sharing the road with semis and RVs, so there is bound to be some passing involved.  Not far after that is one of the paved ways into Pahrump and then one very old rest stop and a few shops with gas at the junction to Amargosa Valley.  Amargosa Valley actually has Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge.  A friend was telling me about it on one of our trips back.  Sometime, I think I will tag along with her and see what kind of damage I can do with photo devices.  I believe she said it was primarily birds.  The next thing of interest along this stretch is Big Dune.  If you are into 4-wheeling and sand, then this is probably a good place for you.  It is indeed a big dune, that is constantly under change by weather and wind and has been around since 1000 AD or possibly earlier.  It amazes me that we can have something like this in Nevada in the middle of nowhere, but it exists.  It is another one of those place holders that lets me know where I am on that long trip.  You also pass what looks like an iron ore mine operation.  I haven’t researched this one.  Whatever is coming out of the ground looks dark red like iron ore.  I have to admit to being clueless on this one.  Next stop is Beatty!  If you are not used to driving distances in Nevada and have a heavy foot, listen carefully!  If the speed limit is 25 mph, you better do 25 mph and not one mile over.  The little towns get their revenue from people who think they are among the priveleged.  There is always law enforcement around in all of the small towns on this trip.  I have been followed for 26 mph in town.  Beatty has a lot of claims to fame.  I remember driving through many years ago, when the highlight for me was the casino that is there.  Later, the Death Valley Fruit and Nut Company sprung up, as well as Subway, an ice cream place and a jerky place.  Everyone stops to use the restrooms-trust me!  The variety of candy, nuts and chocolate is enticing and well worth the stop.  I buy something every time.  Beatty is also known for being near Rhyolite, a ghost town which is nearby in the Bullfrog Hills.  I haven’t been there yet, but I want to go to this one.  It is featured in one of the Tomas the Tortoise books that I have in my school library.  But there is one more thing that I learned about Beatty a couple of years ago.  They have a sufficient number of homes in Beatty for the size town that it is.  They also have an unusually high number of quonset huts, garage sized buildings, and garage type buildings. Back in August of 2013, the Las Vegas Review Journal published a piece about a photographer who spends her summers trying to catch pictures of test cars.  The engineers test the cars around Death Valley and then garage them and the teams in Beatty.  I keep looking for those test cars every time I take a trip.  I think I have only seen one so far, but I will keep looking.  Beatty also has a thrift store, an antique store and a guy who sells military surplus items.