Wednesday

Sunset Park


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EFP-P1120461
(Fig. 01)
Direction Map
(Fig. 02)
Directions: Sunset Park is located in the south-central part of Las Vegas at the intersection of E. Sunset Road and S. Eastern Avenue, just off the southeastern corner of the McCarran International Airport runway. The park is bordered by Sunset Road on the north, Eastern Avenue on the west and Warm Springs Road on the south (Fig. 02). There are 2 entrances into the park off Eastern Ave and 1 off of Sunset Road.
Sunset Park Trails
(Fig. 03)
Park Description: Sunset Park, with a total of 185 acres, is one of the largest parks in Las Vegas. The site is managed by the Clark County Parks and Recreation Department (Fig. 02). One of its most prominent features is Sunset Park Pond (Fig. 01). The pond is around 14 acres in surface area and has an average depth of 10-12 feet. Water for the pond is supplied from wells maintained by the park and used as a storage reservoir for park irrigation. So water quality is good and clarity high, although minor algae blooms can occur seasonally. For the pond, winter is the best time to visit when wintering waterfowl can be abundant. The State of Nevada Department of Fish and Wildlife stocks the pond weekly with rainbow trout from November to March, and with channel catfish monthly from April to October. In the undeveloped southern portion, the park protects a remnant of the mesquite-dune system that once covered much of the Las Vegas Valley. This area preserves some nice honey mesquite and salt-bush thickets and other native vegetation. Some of the more recent expansions include new playgrounds, a splash pad, walking trails, and open turf areas in the heart of the park. There are volleyball courts, tennis courts, basketball courts, fitness tracks, softball fields, a disc golf course, a dog park, and shaded picnic areas.
                               
Park History: Sunset Regional Park is the crown jewel in the County's park system and has served the entire Las Vegas valley since 1967. The land for Sunset Park was acquired in 1967 and contains the last remaining dunes of what once covered most of Paradise Valley. Sunset Park was once home to early ranchers. The Paiute Indian Tribe inhabited the site a thousand years ago and greeted visitors who sought to trade seeds, nuts and turquoise. Water continues to flow under the park and surfaces to provide irrigation to the entire west end of Sunset Park.
                         
Sunset Park & Trails
(Fig. 04)
07/31/2015 Trip Notes: I have been wanting to hike the trails in this park for more than three years, and half just kept putting it off for some reason. So today, Blake Smith and I finally decided to turn the park it into a morning hike. As you can see from the Trail Legends in (Fig. 03), there are more than 3.5 miles of trails, including the trail that surrounds the pond. From the parking area and our trailhead (Fig. 04), we ended south and hiked the outer boarder. I estimated that we walked more than 1.5 miles. Just as we started our hike we were surprised by an extremely share sight, a rainbow (Fig. 05). As it achieved nearly 100 degrees by mid morning, we decided to call it an early day. As a result, we only covered about half of the available trails. We didn’t even walk around the pond nor the trails in the northeast corner of the park. As we walked the trails, we were surprised by several things. First, I noticed that nearly 90% of the trails are paved, making it for very easy walking. Next, I was impressed by how well the surrounding areas were landscaped. This now-rare habitat area was covered by sand dunes mixed with Honey Mesquite thickets and saltbush thickets and other native vegetation (Figs. 06 & 07). Lastly, I was amazed at the abundance of wildlife sightings; there were dozens of birds (Fig. 08), cottontail rabbits (Fig. 09), long-tailed jackrabbits, round-tailed ground squirrels (Fig. 10), numerous quails (Fig. 11), and several greater roadrunners (Figs. 12-14).
                                              
EFP-P1120405
(Fig. 05)
EFP-Sunset Park High Point
(Fig. 06)
EFP-Sunset Park Landscape
(Fig. 07)
EFP2-P1120408
(Fig. 08)
EFP-P1120412
(Fig. 09)
EFP-P1120409
(Fig. 10)
EFP-P1120426
(Fig. 11)
EFP-P1120442
(Fig. 12)
EFP-P1120447
(Fig. 13)
EFP-P1120448
(Fig. 14)