Our 2017 travel 'bucket list!'

I've lived in Las Vegas, off and on, for over a decade -- and my husband was born and raised here. However, there are so many amazing places that are just a stone's throw away from us, and we haven't seen any of them! That's why we've decided to create a yearly bucket list for all of the places we want to see, and the things we want to do. By the time 2017 "kicks the bucket," I hope to have visited the following places -- and it should be easy to do, since most of these destinations are close to home.

I put this place at the top of our list because it's super close, and it's super beautiful. Little Jamaica is a surprising little oasis in the middle of nowhere -- between Mesquite, Nevada and Littlefield, Arizona. While it connects to the Virgin River, that is not this sparkling pool's water source. In fact, a so-called "warm" spring flows from the mountain, filling the basin, which trickles into the Virgin River. 

It's called "Little Jamaica" because it looks absolutely tropical -- which is surprising in the middle of this desert region. This tropical oasis is also called Desert Spring or Littlefield Spring. It's long-been a popular hangout spot for locals of Mesquite, Littlefield and surrounding areas, which is why it's been trashed by litter and vandalism in the past. However, it's reportedly been cleaned up and restored back to it's original glory. 

Little Jamaica is going to be the first place I visit this year, as my husband and I tick off items from our 2017 bucket list!

Seven Magic Mountains (Las Vegas)
This is a traveling art exhibit that's expected to remain in the Las Vegas desert until sometime in 2018. Basically, it's a series of rainbow-colored rock sculptures, set against a desert backdrop. To learn more about this art installation, click here. I'll admit that I'm not as interested in this attraction, as I am many of the others on this list, but since it will be gone in 2018, I should at least give it a visit.

Valley of Fire State Park
Silly me didn't realize that this place is so close to where I live. I've seen numerous professional photos of this place, foolishly thinking it was somewhere in Utah. Color me surprised: It's just about an hour away! This probably isn't a really impressive place for many people, since it's a somewhat popular park, but I'm pretty jazzed about it after recently finding out about it.

Valley of Fire has multiple campgrounds, and multiple points of interest, but it's also in the middle of some pretty unforgiving desert terrain. I don't like the sun, or the heat, very much (which is odd since I insist on living in Nevada), so I intend on visiting Valley of Fire before summer is in full swing.

Zzyzx (California)
Once upon a time...
Many of you know the Stonesour song about the desolate Zzyzx road, but this place has a pretty freaky history, making it a worthwhile destination for a short road trip. This place is more than just a long, uneventful road in the Mojave Desert. It's actually a sort of town -- or at least it used to be. Formerly known as "Camp Soda," the land was acquired by Curtis Howe Springer in 1944. He renamed the place Zzyzx, and turned it into a health spa destination. Interesting story behind the name: He wanted it to be "the last place on Earth," meaning that the word Zzyzx is literally the last word on any world atlas. He used this as a marketing ploy to attract visitors to his so-called spa and resort.

Springer, a religious evangelist, lost rights to the land in a dispute with the federal government. The state of California seized the entirety of Zzyzx, and turned it into a desert research facility. The religious leader then took residence in Las Vegas, where he eventually died in 1985. 

It should be noted that Springer was a long-time conman. He was not only a medical quack and a tax evader, but he was a fraudster. He tried to pass off Zzyzx as a natural hot spring resort, but in reality he was heating the pools with boilers

This place is a creepy piece of history involving religious fanaticism and crime, but it's currently being put to positive use as a habitat for at least one endangered species. If we're able to visit what was formerly known as Zzyzx Mineral Springs Resort, I'll definitely write more about it.

Havasupai Falls
Havasupai Falls
This is another one of those surprising oasis destinations in the Arizona desert. Approximately five hours east of Las Vegas, this geographical oddity is frequently visited by hikers. It is quite a hike to get to it -- approximately 10 miles each way. I probably won't be trekking in that direction during this first half of 2017, but I do intend on seeing it before the year ends.

Do you have a "bucket list" for 2017? If so, what are some of the places you'd like to visit before this year kicks the bucket?