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282 Part VI: The Part of Tens

Bonus Bargains

Excellent alternatives not quite making the top ten include the Mac King

Comedy Magic Show at Harrah’s, 3475 Las Vegas Blvd S., which is

priced well at $25 but also offers entry with a coupon for $9.95; the $7.77

off-the-menu steak and shrimp in Mr. Lucky’s 24-7 at the Hard Rock,

4455 Paradise Rd.; 24-hour $1.25 draft beer and $2 bottled imports at

Slots-A-Fun, 2890 Las Vegas Blvd. S. (% 800-354-1232 or 702-734-0410);

and, of course, room rates citywide in July and December. Finally, one of

our favorite restaurants, Todd English P.U.B., 3720 Las Vegas Blvd. S., in

Crystals at CityCenter (% 702-489-8080; see Chapter 10 for a full

review), is rapidly becoming famous — or infamous depending on your

viewpoint — for its Nickel Beer Night. Tuesdays you get draft Pabst Blue

Ribbon for only 5¢.

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Chapter 21

Nevada’s Top Ten

Desert Denizens

In This Chapter

▶ Discovering Nevada’s desert dwellers

▶ Getting to know the good, the bad, the ugly, and the creepy-crawly


he Great Basin Desert and the Mojave Desert, both of which spread

across Nevada, are home to all kinds of creatures that love the dry climate or have adapted over the years to live here. This chapter presents

ten of the more exotic critters you’re likely to encounter — although not

necessarily up close and personally and almost definitely not in your

hotel room.

Want to know more? One of the best places to learn about local animal

life is Valley of Fire State Park (55 miles northeast of Las Vegas at exit

75 on I-15; see Chapter 15 for details), where you can view the desert —

and if you’re lucky — some of the creatures described here in their



The coyote — a type of wild dog roughly the size of a German shepherd —

is the speedster of the canid species: It can sprint up to 40 mph and cover

several hundred miles in a single night. Coyotes are social, often traveling

in packs, and they’re domestic: They mate for life, and the pups often hang

out with their folks for more than a year. In addition, the coyote is very

intelligent and has a larger, more sophisticated vocabulary than that of any

other type of dog, communicating through growls, whines, yips, barks, and

howls, as well as such body language as tail wagging, lip curling, and mock

fighting. The most distinctive of the coyote’s calls — a series of barks and

yelps followed by a drawn-out howl and a few short, sharp yaps — is used

to gather group members together before or after a hunt. Its verbal nature

has earned the coyote the name “song dog” in several Native American


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284 Part VI: The Part of Tens

These animals keep to themselves during the day, so you may not see

any, but you’re very likely to hear them at night. And, no, coyotes don’t

wear bandanas.

Desert Tortoise

At just 10 to 14 inches long, these guys are surprisingly hard-core. They

can live 80 to 100 years, all the while surviving temperatures ranging

from freezing to more than 140°F by digging burrows into the desert

floor. They can go more than a year without water, getting all the moisture they need from the plants they eat. Despite their long lives, it is

thought that they rarely venture more than 2 miles from where they

were born.

Touching, harming, or collecting wild desert tortoises is illegal.


These adorable birds flit and hover, helicopter-like, around flowers —

but what they’re actually doing is pigging out. With the highest metabolic rate of any warm-blooded vertebrate, hummingbirds eat all day

long to keep from starving.

Jackrabbits and Desert Cottontails

You’re most likely to see jackrabbits and their cousins, desert cottontails (the latter’s ears are smaller, and they have cute, fluffy tails), hopping around at dawn or dusk. Both types are constant noshers — they

nibble voraciously on a variety of plants, including cacti.


Small, pinkish, and delicate geckos are notable for the round pads on

their fingers and toes — helpful in climbing the walls, literally. These lizards are far more common — you may be relieved to hear — than the

2-foot-long, black-and-orange-striped Gila monster. The largest native

lizard in the United States, the Gila monster is the only venomous animal

protected by state law.

Don’t be deceived by its placid, sluggish demeanor; Gila monsters can

bite with a viselike grip. Pick one up, and you may need to pry it off with

a screwdriver — and then head for the nearest emergency room. Gila

monsters aren’t considered deadly to humans, but you don’t really want

to test that theory.

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Chapter 21: Nevada’s Top Ten Desert Denizens



These chubby, plumed birds tend to cross the road together in family

groups called coveys. The mother quail shepherds her babies on outings. These birds also may turn up on your dinner plate — but I won’t

discuss that here.


Public-relations people throughout the Southwest like to point out that

rattlers are present in nearly every state in the United States. However,

said PR people aren’t likely to mention the fact that the Southwest has

more species of rattlesnakes than does any other single region in the

Americas. The good news: Rattlers don’t really want to tussle with you —

that rattling sound means “go away.” Nor do they want to waste venom on

you — you’re too large to kill and eat. If you do get bitten, chances are

50/50 that the bite is dry (nonpoisonous). The bottom line: Watch where

you step in the wild, but don’t make yourself miserable with worry. You’re

20 times more likely to be struck by lightning than to be bitten by a



Members of the cuckoo family, these 2-foot-long crested birds live

throughout the Southwest. Although they prefer sprinting (at 15 mph) to

flying, they will take flight to avoid fast predators, such as coyotes.

Roadrunners eat insects, lizards, and snakes. They’ll even devour rattlesnakes whole.


These miniature lobsters like to hang out in dark, dry spots. All varieties

are nearly invisible in the dark (although they glow under ultraviolet

light). The scorpion’s bite is painful, but not dangerous. Their sting is

venomous, but they sting humans only in self-defense, and most species’

stings just cause a painful swelling.

If your shoes have been under your bed all night, shake them out before

sticking your feet back into them.


Big, hairy tarantulas are the most conspicuous of the desert spiders, but

they’re harmless — honest. Some people even keep them as pets.

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286 Part VI: The Part of Tens

The spiders you really want to give a wide berth are the much smaller,

but far more poisonous, black widows. A black widow spider’s bite can

be deadly, but, fortunately, black widows aren’t aggressive — just don’t

go poking your fingers in their faces or into dark corners. You can recognize the venomous females by the bright red, hourglass-shaped markings on their chests.

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Quick Concierge


his handy section is where we condense all the practical and pertinent

information — from airline phone numbers to mailbox locations — you

need to make sure that you have a successful and stress-free Las Vegas

vacation. And in case you believe in being really prepared, we also give you

some additional resources to check out.

Fast Facts


The nearest regional office for the nationwide auto club is located at 3312 W.

Charleston Blvd. (% 702-415-2200).

American Express

If you lose your American Express

Travelers Cheques, dial % 800-221-7282

anytime, 24 hours a day. There’s an

American Express Travel Services office at

the Fashion Show Mall (% 702-739-8474).

Area Code

The area code for Las Vegas is 702.


ATMs are everywhere, because casinos

want you to have easy access to your

money. Remember that each ATM will

charge you a fee, as will your bank (probably), adding up to as much as a $5 surcharge on your withdrawal.

Baby Sitters

Most major hotels can provide you with

referrals to licensed and bonded baby sitters or child-care specialists. Around the

Clock Babysitters (% 800-798-6768 or 702365-1040) have been in business for 30

years and not only screen all their sitters

with the sheriff and the FBI, but also check

references. Office hours are 10 a.m. to

3 p.m., and sitters are available 24 hours a

day, seven days a week.

Camera Repair

You can find photo and camera service in

the main gift shop of most major hotels.

Check with your hotel’s concierge or

guest-services desk.

Convention Centers

Las Vegas is one of America’s top convention destinations. Much of the action takes

place at the Las Vegas Convention Center,

3150 Paradise Rd. (% 877-847-4858 or 702892-0711), which is the largest single-level

convention center in the world. Its 3.2 million square feet includes 144 meeting

rooms. This immense facility is augmented

by the Cashman Field Center, 850 Las Vegas

Blvd. N. (% 702-892-0711). Under the same

auspices, Cashman provides another

483,000 square feet of convention space.

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288 Las Vegas For Dummies, 6th Edition

Credit Cards

If your credit card is lost or stolen, call

these emergency numbers: Citicorp Visa

(% 800-847-2911), American Express

(% 800-221-7282), or MasterCard (% 800622-7747).

Doctors and Dentists

Most major hotels have physician-referral

services, but you also can call the free service at Desert Springs Hospital (% 702388-4888) Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to

8 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For a

dental referral, call the Southern Nevada

Dental Society (% 702-733-8700) weekdays 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m., or visit

its Web site at www.sndsonline.org.

Dry Cleaners

Most major hotels offer laundry and drycleaning services or can direct you to the

nearest cleaners, if you don’t want to pay

the sometimes exorbitant rates they charge.


Dial % 911 to contact the police or paramedics. You can get emergency service at

any time, day or night, at Sunrise Hospital

and Medical Center, 3186 Maryland Pkwy.,

between Desert Inn Road and Sahara

Avenue (% 702-731-8057). For less-critical

emergencies, try the Harmon Medical

Center, 150 E. Harmon Ave. (% 702-7961116), the closest urgent-care facility to

the Strip. It’s open 24 hours a day.

Gambling Laws

You must be 21 years old to enter a casino


Highway Conditions

For recorded local information, call

% 702-486-3116.


See “Emergencies,” earlier in this section.

Hot Lines

In a crisis, you can contact the Rape Crisis

Center (% 702-366-1640), the Suicide

Prevention Hot Line (% 702-731-2990), or

Poison Emergencies (% 800-446-6179).


All the major hotels have tour and show

desks, but you can get additional information from the Las Vegas Visitor Information

Center, 3150 Paradise Rd. (% 877-847-4858

or 702-892-7575), or from the Las Vegas

Chamber of Commerce, 6671 Las Vegas

Blvd. S. (% 702-735-1616). The LVCVA is

open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; the LVCC is

open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

See also “Where to Get More Information,”

later in this chapter.

Liquor Laws

You must be 21 to buy alcohol — period.

You can buy liquor at bars and stores

24 hours a day, including Sunday. You can

even drink from open containers as long as

you’re on the Strip or at the Fremont Street

Experience — a practice that is banned in

most other cities — but don’t try it anywhere else in town.


All major hotels have basic city maps

available to hotel guests. You can buy

more-detailed maps at any hotel gift shop.


Las Vegas has two major newspapers that

you can buy in the city: The Las Vegas

Review-Journal and the Las Vegas Sun.

Both are available at almost every hotel

gift shop. In addition, a variety of free local

publications have information on local

happenings. The most prominent is What’s

On, The Las Vegas Guide, available in

hotels and restaurants throughout the city.

For a totally unbiased and more hip,

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Appendix: Quick Concierge

alternative opinion, try the free weekly

papers Las Vegas Weekly and Las Vegas

City Life, both of which are available at

various record and used-clothing stores

and the like around town.


CVS, 1360 E. Flamingo Rd. at Maryland

Parkway (% 702-731-5373), is part of a

large national pharmacy chain and is open

24 hours. You can find a Walgreens at 3339

Las Vegas Blvd. S., next to the Venetian

(% 702-369-8166). If you want to patronize

an independent store that’s not part of a

chain, try White Cross Drugs, 1700 Las Vegas

Blvd. S., just north of the Stratosphere Tower

(% 702-382-1733); it will deliver to your hotel

if you so desire.


can be a problem. Men should keep wallets well concealed, and women should

keep purses in sight and secure at all

times. Be warned — thieves tend to be

particularly bold during outdoor shows

such as the Volcano at the Mirage or the

Fountains of Bellagio. Many hotel rooms

have safes for cash or valuables. If yours

does not, the front desk can offer you a

safe-deposit box.


Smoking is permitted only in designated

areas, which is limited to the gambling areas

of casinos, bars that don’t serve food, and

some hotel rooms. Smoking is not permitted

in any other indoor public place including

malls, restaurants, theaters, or hallways.


For emergencies, dial % 911; for nonemergencies, dial % 702-795-3111.


Clark County hotel room tax is 12 percent

to13 percent, and sales tax is 8.1 percent.

Post Office

The most convenient post office is near

Circus Circus, at 3100 Industrial Rd.,

between Sahara Avenue and Spring

Mountain Road (% 800-297-5543). It’s

open Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to

5 p.m. You can mail letters and packages

at your hotel, and there’s a full-service

post office in the Forum Shops in Caesars



Basic fare is $3.30 at the meter drop and

$2.40 for each additional mile, with time

penalties for sitting still and additional

charges for airport runs. Major operators

include Ace (% 702-736-8383), Checker

(% 702-873-2000), Desert (% 702-3869102), Henderson (% 702-384-6111), Star

(% 702-873-2000), Western (% 702-7368000), Whittlesea (% 702-384-6111), and

Yellow (% 702-873-2000).


All the major hotels have public restroom

facilities. They are, for the most part, clean

and safe. Remember not to leave your children unattended.


As long as you stick to well-lit tourist

areas, crime usually isn’t a major concern.

However, pickpockets who target people

coming out of casinos (or people in the

casinos who are entranced by gambling)

Time Zone

Las Vegas is in the Pacific time zone, three

hours earlier than the East Coast (New

York, Florida), two hours earlier than the

Midwest (Iowa, Texas), and one hour earlier than the Mountain states (Colorado,


Transit Information

Call Citizen’s Area Transit (CAT) at % 702228-7433.

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290 Las Vegas For Dummies, 6th Edition


If you want to get hitched in the state of

Nevada, you don’t need a blood test, and

you don’t have to withstand a waiting

period. Get your license downtown at Clark

County Marriage License Bureau, 201

Clark Ave. (% 702-671-0600), for $60. It’s

open 8 a.m. to midnight daily. For more

information, see Chapter 12.

Toll-Free Numbers and Web Sites



% 800-237-6639


Air Canada

% 888-247-2262


Alaska Airlines

% 800-426-0333



% 702-505-8888



% 800-433-7300


British Airways

% 800-247-9297



% 800-525-0280



% 800-221-1212



% 800-538-2583



% 800-531-7921


Midwest Airlines

% 800-452-2022



% 800-435-9792


Sun Country

% 866-359-6786



% 800-241-6522


US Airways

% 800-428-4322


Virgin Atlantic

% 800-862-8621


Car-rental agencies


% 800-432-1359



% 800-777-9377


Hawaiian Airlines

% 800-367-5320



% 877-227-8367


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Appendix: Quick Concierge


% 800-230-4898 in continental United


% 800-272-5871 in Canada



% 800-527-0700



% 800-800-3665



% 800-736-8227



% 800-654-3131



% 800-227-7368



% 800-729-5377



% 800-847-4389



Days Inn

% 800-329-7466



% 800-222-8733



% 877-424-6423


Fairfield Inn by Marriott

% 800-228-2800



% 800-426-7866



% 800-445-8667


Holiday Inn

% 800-465-4329


Howard Johnson

% 800-446-4656


Major hotel and motel chains


% 800-233-1234


Best Western

% 800-780-7234


La Quinta

% 866-725-1661



% 877-424-6423



% 888-236-2427


Comfort Inn

% 877-424-6423


Motel 6

% 800-466-8356


Courtyard by Marriott

% 800-321-2211



% 877-424-6423


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292 Las Vegas For Dummies, 6th Edition


% 888-201-1718


Rodeway Inn

% 877-424-6423



% 800-272-6232



% 888-625-5144


Red Carpet Inn

% 800-251-1962


Super 8 Motel

% 800-800-8000


Red Lion Hotel

% 800-733-5466



% 800-578-7878


Red Roof Inn

% 800-733-7663


Vagabond Inn

% 800-522-1555


Residence Inn by Marriott

% 800-331-3131


Where to Get More Information

If you want more detailed information on attractions, accommodations,

or just about anything else in Las Vegas, you won’t find it difficult to

come by. Check out the following list for some excellent sources for

tourist information, maps, and brochures:

✓ The Las Vegas Visitor Information Center, 3150 Paradise Rd.

(% 877-847-4858 or 702-892-7575; www.visitlasvegas.com),

can answer any questions you have and send you a comprehensive

packet of brochures, a map, a show guide, an events calendar, and

an attractions list. It also can help you find a hotel that suits your

needs and assist you in making a reservation.

✓ The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, 6671 Las Vegas Blvd. S.

(% 702-735-1616; www.lvchamber.com), another great source of

local information, offers the Visitor’s Guide, which contains extensive information about accommodations, attractions, excursions,

children’s activities, and more. The Chamber of Commerce can

answer all your Las Vegas questions, including those about weddings and divorces.

✓ The Las Vegas Review-Journal (www.lvrj.com) is the largest

paper in town. Its Neon section has numerous listings for entertainment, dining, and nightlife. Head to its Web site for detailed

descriptions of places of interest, such as the best romantic restaurant, best blackjack tables, best wedding chapel, and best roller

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