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Las Vegas, Nevada (South) Map and Railfan Info  

Las Vegas, Nevada (South)Map and Railfan Info
Created:  6-17-2001

 Mileage to major cities and other points of interest.  Los Angeles, CA (LAX) 280 miles;  Bakersfield, CA  283 miles;
 Salt Lake City, UT  421 miles;  Phoenix, AZ  301 miles; Reno, NV 425 miles.


     Who: Union Pacific. What to expect:  Las Vegas offers a unique railfanning experience. Where else can you go and get Class 1 railroading, as well as casinos in the same background! The trains running through Vegas are long and usually loaded with power. I.E. 3 engines or more up front. This stems from the many mountain passes that are encountered by the UP, between Salt Lake City and  LA, the two major hubs serviced by the line. You'll probably see 20 to 25 trains during a 24 hr period, with numerous locals to keep you busy. The train consists will be a mix of coal, auto, intermodal, grain, and general freight. There is also the occasional unit military train, and if you're real lucky a BNSF will pass through on trackage rights. A warning: Be aware that throughout Vegas, the tracks border the not so good parts of town. Notice your surroundings and "neighbors" and stay out of trouble. This is generally true from around Cheyenne Ave. to the north, until Russell Rd in the south, approx. 10 miles. Amenities: Well this is an easy one. There is absolutely no shortage of places to stay, eat, or whatever in Vegas. If you haven't heard about Vegas, then uhhh, never mind!  When to go: Well you'll need to decide on your tolerance level. The summers are pretty hot, and the winters can get really cold. Spring and fall are all right. I would suggest the spring, for much the same reason I always suggest spring. Longer days, fresh foliage in bloom, and nice temperatures. If you chose the summer, remember to bring plenty of water. Winter has a plus too, the sun's location in the sky really highlights the westbound trains without the harsh glare that you'll get during summer. Unfortunately, eastbound trains really suffer, except for the few places where the tracks zig zag off their normal SW to NE course. How to get there:  Airplane, Bus, Car, but ironically no trains! Las Vegas currently has no Amtrak service, but there are plans in the works to get some Talgo trains running between Las Vegas and LA. Anyhow, getting to Las Vegas is fairly easy. For the southern reaches of UP in Vegas, find I-15 and go south to Blue Diamond Rd, then head west, or continue on 1-15 to the Sloan exit further south. Tracks are obvious at either location. For info on locations north of Las Vegas go here.

Specific Sites

        Site A: Just outside of Arden. To get here take the Blue Diamond exit off I-15 and head west. (don't go back over the interstate, go away from it.) As you approach the tracks, about 3 miles, you'll see Jones Blvd. on the left. Turn here and follow until Cactus Dr., about 2.5 miles. Turn right on Cactus. From here until you arrive in Sloan it would be wise to have a truck. This dirt road can get fairly rough, although I have done it in a car--ughh!. What you'll find is a great series of locations along the mountain side. This is a great place to get those summer morning westbounds that would otherwise be nose dark. There is a fill here that is very high, probably 45 -50 feet and makes for an interesting angle. Explore with care the rocks and cliff edges. They are great for train pictures, but can be fairly treacherous.

        Site B:  This area, called Bard in the Delorme Street Atlas, is a wonderful location to frame in 2 of southern Nevada's most beautiful sites. Red Rock Canyon and Mt Charleston. ( The highest mt. in the entire area. at 11, 918' ) The spring offers the best time for this, as the winds are from a more northerly direction and bring clean, smogless air in almost daily. Also the mountain is usually still sporting a snow-capped peak, which is really neat. From Site B, you'll also see the entire Las Vegas valley laid out below, and on clear days will be able to see trains entering the north part of the valley with a pair of decent binoculars. ( that's over 27 miles away! )

        Site C:  Trains make a decidedly southern / northern turn here and the area allows for more sensational mountain and valley pictures. Westbound trains are favored here, but nice broadside shots of eastbounds are possible too.

        Site D:  The east end of Sloan begins at the old tunnel you'll see. Abandoned years ago, the line now trails back through a cut only 100 feet away. It is possible to get trains with the tunnel in the shot, but will require a little trailblazing. I like this area because of the deep brown rocks that are in this spot. they contrast nicely the armor yellow UP trains. To get here, continue following the dirt road, or follow I-15 south out of town to the Sloan exit, #25. Turn right , you'll see the mine at Sloan ahead and the tracks peeling out of the valley to the right. Just explore!

        Site E:  From site D to site E, the tracks make a wide sweeping curve viewable the entire way from anywhere along the road. No eastbound train will sneak up on you here. There is a dirt road that leads out between the crossing at Sloan and UP's small MOW storage enclosure. (signals, gates, crossbucks, etc.) It will lead around to site E , but I think the easier way is to go back toward the interstate and go under it to Rte 604, more commonly known as the "Strip". Turn right toward Jean and California and follow until you reach the tracks at Erie. This is actually site F. Follow the dirt road back under the interstate and you'll find several deep gorges that the trains must pass through. It is really awesome the The drawback here is the road quickly becomes impassable to any car. My truck struggles in some spots to get through. Where are those high-rail vehicles I saw at my local used dealer lot? If only.....

        Site F:  This is Erie siding and it is ok for pictures. The best thing here is the overpass to provide some relief from the sun in the summer months. Also UP likes to use this 8800' siding for frequent meets. The main reason I highlight this spot is because I boarded my first locomotive here, UP 8299, an SD 90 MAC. While waiting for a meet, the conductor invited me aboard to look around. My lain brain brother, who was sitting in the truck,  was too busy watching, well, whatever to even notice, and missed the chance. He felt dumb. I didn't get a picture inside as I was not wanting to press my luck. Maybe next time!

       Site G:  Continue down Rte 604 to this location, about 4 miles or so. There you'll find a large memorial in the shape of the state of Nevada. It commemorates the meeting of the Oregon Short Line (UP controlled), and the San Pedro, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake railroad, along with SP, in completing a rail line between LA and Salt Lake City, Ut. This occurred in January of 1905. You can't miss the sign, it is probably 10 feet tall and immediately adjacent to the rail line. Incorporating trains into a picture is a breeze and here again westbounds will be the favored direction to look for.

Technical stuff:  AAR # 27 - 160.515 (the only frequency you'll need.); Talking Detector found at MP 307

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