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Southeastern Nevada border town blends small-town serenity and big-city luxury.
Photo: PR (CasaBlanca Resort)
Geraldine Zarate is a walking, talking Mesquite history book.
She’ll start by telling you the story of two failed attempts to permanently settle the area before a small group of resilient families finally got their irrigation dams to hold in 1894. “The river kept flooding their predecessors out,” Zarate says. “They built rock and brush dams, but nothing would hold back the headwaters from Zion [Utah].” The young families were spillovers from the farming region of Bunkerville, across the river, which was settled in 1877.
Zarate has more than a basic interest in this southeastern Nevada border town’s history. For one, she’s working on a book about Mesquite for Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series, due out later this year. During the town’s annual Mesquite Days, traditionally at the end of April, she leads tours of the town’s historic gem—a circa-1880 rock house, a remnant of the first attempt to settle the area.
She has lived in Mesquite all of her 63 years, and her lineage can be traced to the Johnson and Pulsipher families, which moved to Mesquite in 1897 and 1900, respectively. Her mother and grandmother never called anywhere but Mesquite home. “My 91-year-old mother lives with me,” Zarate says. “She was born in a tent on a farm where there’s a golf course now.”
Her mention of the golf course is her segue into the subject of the town’s rapid growth in the past quarter century from about 1,000 residents to more than 20,000 today. “Growing up, it was always small,” says Zarate, chairman of the Virgin Valley Historical Committee. “It didn’t boom until Mesquite was incorporated in 1984. Then the golf courses and casinos came in.”
Now, Mesquite is known as a bang-for-your-buck retreat if you want the type of gaming, golf, and luxurious spas offered in Las Vegas without the big-city hubbub. Like its Southern Nevada neighbor, Laughlin, with its warmer fall and winter climate Mesquite has become a favorite retreat for snowbirds.
There are seven area golf courses, with a site dedicated to all things golf in Mesquite—golfmesquitenevada.com. Golf Mesquite Nevada, which holds tournaments and hosts golf-themed events, makes booking a golf vacation online a snap.
CasaBlanca Resort even blends golf into the gaming/spa experience. In addition to its resident 18-hole championship course, guests will find a co-ed spa and salon to rival any big city in Nevada, three restaurants, and a showroom featuring top-notch entertainment such as Wynonna Judd and Trace Adkins.
Eureka Casino Resort features remodeled rooms and a new resort swimming pool, replete with poolside cabanas and palm trees. Not to be outdone, Virgin River Hotel Casino impresses with its 24-hour Cosmic Bowling Center Complex. On Friday and Saturday nights, the lanes, pins, and balls glow in the dark.
Residents laud the City of Mesquite’s Recreation Center, which includes two full-size gymnasiums, two racquetball courts, an indoor heated pool, a climbing wall, and outdoor basketball courts. During the summer, guests can enjoy the outdoor pool. Sharp shooters can test their skills at Oasis Gun Club’s trap, skeet, and sporting clay fields, which feature ponds, fields, and cliffs on a 10-station course. Zarate says she often utilizes the city’s network of walking trails, some of which go along the Virgin River.
If you’re a history buff and can’t wait for the nearly 200 black-and-white photos that will grace the pages of the aforementioned Images of America book, the Virgin Valley Heritage Museum contains the first slot machine brought to the valley, early examples of technology, and more. The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and admission is free. The City of Mesquite offers a self-guided walking tour brochure that lists 24 historically significant downtown buildings, including four structures that date to the 1800s.
The Mesquite Fine Arts Gallery & Center promotes arts and culture in the community through various ongoing and permanent exhibits. Gallery hours are Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Within a day’s drive of Mesquite are Cathedral Gorge State Park—plus Lincoln County’s other four state parks—Valley of Fire State Park, and Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area in Arizona. On June 14, tune into the Outdoor Channel’s “Destination Polaris,” as the show for ATV enthusiasts tours the Mesquite area.
Bill Lilienthal, who has lived in Mesquite since 1989, was recently named the city’s Citizen of the Year. A retired Navy officer and dedicated volunteer who works at Mesquite’s Nevada Welcome Center, Lilienthal says—despite its growth—Mesquite hasn’t lost its small-town feel or sense of openness. “The people here are friendly, and the amount of volunteers are unbelievable,” he says. “From where I’m sitting now, I can see the Virgin Mountains, and they’re covered with snow. It’s the most beautiful scene.”
MEET NEVADA MAGAZINE
On April 23-25, we will meet and greet visitors and Mesquite citizens at Mesquite Days. We invite you to visit our booth.
COMING TO MESQUITE
Desert Falls Sports Resort will develop and operate the world’s most comprehensive tournament, training, practice, and championship facility for indoor and outdoor sports. The resort is planned for the foothills of Flat Top Mesa on the west side of Mesquite. desertfallssportsresort.com
TOUR AROUND NEVADA
*Nevada Magazine is proud to partner with Virginia City etching company Botcha-Caloop’s in the production of the Tour Around Nevada plaque.
City of Mesquite
10 E. Mesquite Blvd.,
Mesquite, NV 89027