Las Vegas, Nevada, April 27-30, 2018

Registration for this meeting is limited to members (or family members) of the American Penstemon Society or the Nevada Native Plant Society.  If you are not a member consider becoming one.

 The Venue

Our base of operations will be Bonnie Springs Ranch. This is where we will have registrant sign in, the board meeting, and our evening dinners and speakers on Friday April 27 and Saturday, April 28. There is easy highway access to the venue for those traveling by motor vehicles or flying to Las Vegas. There is direct highway access from there to and from the field trip locations.  Las Vegas has a ring road or beltway which borders the city on the north, west and south sides, called the 215 Beltway (also known as the Bruce Woodbury Beltway or Clark County 215).

Bonnie Springs Ranch is located 11 miles west of the beltway on the west side of the Las Vegas metro area on Highway 159. Highway 159is a w estward extension of Charleston Blvd., a city street that, if you follow it east from Bonnie Springs across the beltway, runs directly to downtown Las Vegas (the Fremont Street area) and the north end of the Las Vegas strip. One of the reasons for choosing Bonnie Springs Ranch as our meeting venue (along with its interesting attractions and excellent food) is that it gives us the best of both worlds in terms of access. We can get to and from the venue for the Friday and Saturday events and for the field trips without having to be involved in city traffic.

Venue Rules

Bonnie Springs Ranch does not allow dogs on the property. No smoking is allowed in the restaurant or motel rooms or the old town buildings or attraction areas. Smoking is permitted in outdoor areas.

The Meeting Schedule

Friday, April 27Our four day gathering starts at noon on Friday, April 27 for registrant sign in at the booth to be set up for that purpose at Bonnie Springs Ranch near the main entrance to the Old Town.  Each registrant will receive a package containing detailed field trip descriptions and directions. Other information will be included about the local area, along with a pictorial key as an aid to identifying the penstemons we will see, tickets for the Friday and Saturday dinners, and a wristband allowing entrance into the attractions and shows at the Bonnie Springs facility. Registrants will need to sign the liability waiver at that time in order to participate in the meeting events.

The APS Board Members will meet from 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm in the Bristlecone Room in the Old Town Saloon. All members are cordially invited to attend.

Registrants can, after signing in, enjoy the venue grounds and facilities, have an informal meet and greet in the restaurant or one of the many pleasant sitting areas at the venue until dinner which will take place at 6:00 pm in the Gold Room, also located in the Old Town Saloon.

The Friday dinner menu is:

  • • BBQ pork ribs and chicken
  • • Mixed greens salad and homemade ranch dressing
  • • Cowboy style baked beans
  • • Corn niblets
  • • Buttermilk biscuits
  • • Assorted cookies for dessert
  • • Beverages – coffee, bottled water, and soda, both regular and diet

The Friday dinner will be followed by speakers who will provide orientation information for the area, the field trips, and the penstemons we will see.

Saturday, April 28: We will have Field Trips 1 and 2 on Saturday, followed by dinner at 6 pm in the Gold Room in the Old Town Saloon at Bonnie Springs.

The Saturday dinner menu is:

  • • BBQ steak and chicken
  • • Mixed greens salad with homemade ranch dressing
  • • Ranch potatoes
  • • Seasonal vegetables
  • • Buttermilk biscuits
  • • Brownies for dessert
  • • Beverages – coffee, bottled water, and soda, both regular and diet.

Saturday dinner will be followed by the APS general membership meeting and then we will hear from our featured speaker, Jim Boone, Ph.D. (Ecology).  See a brief bio of Dr. Boone below.

Sunday April 29: We will have Field Trip 3 or 4 on Sunday. There are no evening events scheduled; you are on your own for dinner.

Monday April 30: Optional last day, getaway day.  Field Trips 5, 6 and 7 will be offered on Monday.  No other events are scheduled after the field trips. 

Featured Speaker

Jim Boone, Ph.D. (Ecology) – Jim will be speaking to us on Saturday evening. He is a well known ecologist who spends a lot of time in the deserts and mountains around Las Vegas observing and recording. Jim will speak about plant and animal diversity in the southwestern deserts using Gold Butte National Monument as an example, nd organizing biotic diversity following the Concept of Life Zones introduced by C. Hart Merriam, a pioneering naturalist in this field, in the 1890s.

An outdoorsman since before birth, Jim camped and backpacked throughout the western U.S. with family and did month-long summer backpacking trips with friends when 15 and 16 years old.  He worked a dozen seasons in western national parks, and with his wife Liz, attended Humboldt State University (B.S. in Wildlife Management, 1987) and the University of Georgia (M.S. in Forest Resources; Ph.D. in Ecology, 1995). Jim’s dissertation involved the morphology and genetics of rapid evolution in field mice, which required months of time hiking and camping in Southeastern U.S. hardwood swamps.

Arriving in Las Vegas in 1995, Jim did ecological research on the Nevada Test Site, spending 11 years with the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Project. In 2002, he began authoring, a website helping people find peace and solitude in wild places and thereby encouraging public support for protecting these places. In 2006, Jim started an environmental consulting company primarily engaged in desert tortoise surveys and environmental inspections on construction sites.  When work ran out at the bottom of the Great Recession, Jim quit working for pay.  He and Liz now hike, camp, watch birds, work on the website, and advocate for land conservation.  He is a board member with Friends of Gold Butte National Monument, co-leader of the Basin Rangers (Friends of Basin and Range National Monument), and the self-appointed Head of Citizens Efforts in the Illegal, Bird-Killing Mining Claim Marker Removal Project. Jim received the 2015 Advocate of the Year Award from the Friends of Nevada Wilderness and the 2016 Trailblazer Award (Lifetime Achievement Award) from the Southern Nevada Conservation Community. 

The Field Trips – Saturday, Sunday and Monday

For all of the Field Trips (except Field Trip 2) we will meet up and car pool at locations on the highways leading to the field trip destinations.  Those staying at the Bonnie Springs Ranch Motel will get together and car pool from there, proceeding to the Field Trip meet-up locations where those whose accommodations are elsewhere will join us. 

For Field Trips 1,3,5 and 7 to the north of Las Vegas, we will meet at the Kyle Canyon/Hwy 157 Park and Ride lot near the intersection of Hwy 95 and Hwy 157 (also called Kyle Canyon Road, and informally the road to Mt. Charleston). 

For Field Trips 4 and 6 to the south of Las Vegas, we will meet at the northeast corner of the surface parking lot at South Point Casino, just south of the city on I-15. Both meet-up locations are easy to find (directions and GPS coordinates will be provided), and we will do further car-pooling there. 

For Field Trip 2, the meet-up location will be Bonnie Springs Ranch. The Saturday and Sunday field trips are part of the regular program and the Monday field trips traditionally have been considered optional, but in the last few years most registrants seem to have attended and enjoyed them as well.

You will note that P. palmeri appears in many, if not all of the field trips. It is by far the most common penstemon in the 3,500 to 6,000 foot elevation range in the Las Vegas area.  A check of bloom states during the week prior to the start of our event may result in some changes to the order of the field trips. The field trips planned follow.

Saturday, April 28

Trip 1. Peek-a-Boo Canyon in the Sheep Range

P. palmeri, a small lower elevation population  of P. petiolatus in Yucca Gap, and the main population of P. petiolatus, hundreds of plants, are found in Peek-a-Boo Canyon. There are many interesting desert wildflowers along with yuccas, agaves and cacti along the way. There also is a small population of mutant P. palmeri (some with 5 stamens and no staminode, others with 5 stamens and one staminode) along the road. We will take shifts for the visit to Peek-a-Boo Canyon itself, which is a narrow area with limited parking. 

Half the group will “hold” outside the canyon to enjoy the areas of desert in the Joshua tree scrub, or take a convenient side trip to Pine Nut Camp. There are many interesting plants along Pine Nut Road and P. palmeri and P. eatonii can be seen at Pine Nut Camp. Then the two groups will trade off locations.  Trip leaders: Doyle Wayman and Bob Cosburn

Trip 2. Red Rock National Conservation Area

This is an alternate trip near Bonnie Springs to see P. bicolor subsp. roseus, P. bicolor subsp.bicolor, P. eatonii and P. utahensis, continuing on to Red Spring, First Creek or Spring Mt. State Park, all near Bonnie Springs to see P. ambiguus.  Trip leaders: Lonny Holmes, Jan Barry.  Directions to the penstemons on Field Trip 2 will be available so that those who have taken Field Trip 1 can see them on their own at a convenient time.

Return to Bonnie Springs for dinner at 6 pm, followed by the APS general membership meeting and the presentation by our featured speaker.

Sunday April 29

There are two available locations to see P. albomarginatus, one on the north side of Las Vegas and the other to the south towards the California state line. We will select one or the other depending on which populations have the best blooms.

Trip 3. Hwy 95 P. albomarginatus sites; then Ash Meadows NWR or Cold Creek.

There are three sites to choose from near Hwy 95, about 60 miles northwest of the city. Our visit to the P. albomarginatus site(s) will be followed by a stop at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge or a side trip to Cold Creek on the way back to Las Vegas. There are no penstemons in the Ash Meadows N.W.R., but it is an area of significant botanical and ecological interest. The area has 27 endemic species of plants and animals, including the endangered Devil’s Hole pupfish. The Cold Creek area has penstemons including P. eatonii, P. palmeri and P. utahensis, plus wild horses are commonly seen there.  Trip leaders to be determined, Larry Lodwick will lead the Ash Meadows segment.  OR depending on bloom states in the two P. albomarginatus locations ...

Trip 4. Jean/Primm dry lake area P. Albomarginatussites; Goodsprings area; Tecopa Pass

Three sites in the Jean/Primm dry lake area, another aeolian sand habitat, to see P. albomarginatus. These sites are south of Las Vegas just east of I-15. We will follow up the visit here with a short trip across I-15 to the Goodsprings area nearby where P. palmeri can be found in profusion, and if time allows to Tecopa Pass where more P. palmeri can be seen, along with the unusual and spectacular Nolina parryi.  Trip leader(s) – to be determined.

There are no APS-organized evening events on Sunday evening; dinner to be arranged on your own.

Monday April 30

Trip 5. Gold Butte National Monument

Gold Butte National Monument is located off I-15 about 90 miles north of Las Vegas. This trip will be led by Jim Boone, an ecologist with much experience in the Gold Butte area. You will see some penstemons, many interesting plants plus topographical, anthropological and geological highlights. And as an alternate trip: 

Trip 6. Goodsprings then on to Excelsior Mine Road and Kingston Range

You will see many P. palmeri plants along the roadsides and in wash and canyon settings near Goodsprings and along the road to Sandy Valley, all of which are located off I-15 south of Las Vegas near the CA state line.. Nolina parryi is an interesting plant that many people wish to see when in this area near Tecopa Pass on Excelsior Mine Road.  Trip leader(s) – to be determined.  And as another alternate trip: 

Trip 7. Dead Horse Road

Dead Horse Road heads up into the Sheep Range about 25 miles north from Corn Creek Visitor Center in the Desert National WildlifeRange.  We will see the extensive stand of very large P. palmeri plants, and P. petiolatus (the only site like this we know of) growing in wash gravels. We have scheduled a possible extension, time allowing, to visit Sheep Pass for two more P. petiolatus sites (in crevices on solid limestone) with more P. palmeri and other interesting cacti and other plants along the way, along with visible fossil-bearing rocks. Trip leader(s) – to be determined.

Vehicle requirements

High clearance vehicles (any SUV, pickup, Jeep, Subaru) are required for Field Trips 1, 5 and 7, and recommended, but not strictly necessary for Field Trips 3, and 4. Field Trips 2 and 6 are fine for regularvehicles. Four-wheel drive is not required for any of the field trips.  Field Trips 1, 5 and 7 are mostly on unpaved roads after highway travel to get to the area. Trips 3 and 4 have some short stretches of unpaved road to reach most of the destination sites. We will be carpooling to reduce the impact of multiple vehicles on the field trip areas, so those with low-clearance vehicles or who are not comfortable driving on unpaved roads can ride with others.