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Inspire visitors to explore city’s wonders

There’s nothing like some time away from the office to clear your mind and open it to new possibilities.

My vacation provided me with the opportunity to explore parts of the state I had never seen. And I’m hardly alone in being a first-time visitor to parts of the Silver State more than a few miles away from home.

According to the Nevada Division of Tourism, only about 8 percent of Nevadans vacation within the state, far below the U.S. average of 51 percent for in-state travel.

So we took the advice of the TravelNevada campaign and spent a week exploring the state.

We traveled along two of the routes suggested by the Discover Your Nevada campaign presented by tourism division. We drove the Great Basin Highway from Las Vegas to Ely, and then took the Loneliest Road in America, U.S. Highway 50 from Ely to Carson City.

While there were many stretches with nothing to see but rocks and scrub bushes, there were also glimpses into the state’s history and the hardiness of early settlers who created small oases of civilization in the middle of nowhere.

We were treated to open skies, where hundreds of stars twinkled at night. We toured Lehman Caves filled with its marvelous stalactites and stalagmites. We visited Sand Mountain, a 600-foot tall sand dune created thousands of years ago. We saw outposts where Pony Express riders would trade in their weary rides or quench their thirst.

Just by chance in Ely while looking at some brochures about nearby places to visit and maps I spotted a small booklet, the Official Highway 50 Survival Guide.

The survival guide featured pages filled with facts and interesting information about each of the eight stops along the route and places to visit to get the guide validated.

After visiting at least five of the stops, I was invited to send in the attached prepaid postcard that had been validated in return for Highway 50 Survivor souvenirs, including a certificate signed by the governor.

While it may seem like a silly idea for adults to get excited about getting stamps/validations in a freebie booklet, doing so made travel along the lonely, desolate 285-mile stretch of road much more interesting.

It also “forced” us to stop in places we might have otherwise just whizzed by, provided interesting tidbits about the towns we passed through and introduced us to some interesting people.

I’m sure that had it not been for my desire to get my survival guide validated I definitely would not have ventured into a small bar in Eureka where I met the nicest bartender who told me about a great place to get fish and chips and a short hike I should take when I arrived at my final destination.

Inspired by the people I met along the way, and with my mind open to new ideas, I began to think that perhaps Boulder City could create a similar guide highlighting important and interesting spots throughout town, including nearby attractions such as Railroad Pass casino and Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

This guide might help bring more visitors to our community and counterbalance some of the expected loss of tourism that will happen when Interstate 11 is completed.

Local businesses and restaurants could easily validate the guides as could places like the Boulder City-Hoover Dam Museum, Nevada Southern Railroad Museum and Boulder City Chamber of Commerce.

It probably wouldn’t be too costly to print up the guides and posters for participating locations as well as get the stamps made.

It’s an idea worth exploring — just as it inspired me to explore parts of our state that I probably would have otherwise missed.

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at hsaylor@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.

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