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Las Vegas, the state's most populous city, has been the county seat since its establishment. The county was formed by the Nevada Legislature by splitting off a portion of Lincoln County on February 5, 1909, and was organized on July 1, 1909. The Las Vegas Valley, a 600 sq mi (1,600 km2) basin, includes Las Vegas and other major cities and communities such as North Las Vegas, Henderson, and the unincorporated community of Paradise.
Originally part of the Mexican Territory of Alta California, the Clark County lands were first traversed by American beaver trappers. Word of their journeys inspired the New Mexican merchant Antonio Armijo in 1829 to establish the first route for mule trains and herds of livestock from Nuevo Mexico to Alta California through the area, along the Virgin and Colorado Rivers. Called the Armijo Route of the Old Spanish Trail, the route was later modified into the Main Route by the passing merchants, trappers, drovers, Ute raiders and settlers over the years by moving to a more direct route. In Clark County it was northward away from the Colorado to a series of creeks, waterholes and springs like those at Las Vegas, to which John C. Fr?mont added Fr?mont's Cutoff on his return from California to Utah in 1844.
What is now Clark County was acquired by the United States during the Mexican–American War, becoming part of the northwestern corner of New Mexico Territory. In 1847, Jefferson Hunt and other Mormon Battalion members returning to Salt Lake City from Los Angeles pioneered a wagon route through the County that became the Mormon Road. In 1849, this road became known as the "Southern Route", the winter route of the California Trail from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles during the California Gold Rush. By the mid 1850s, the route now known as the Salt Lake Road in California, and the California Road in Utah Territory, was a wagon trade route between the two. In the mid 1850s, Mormons established a settlement at Las Vegas. In the 1860s, Mormon colonies were established along the Virgin and Muddy Rivers.
All of the county was part of Mohave County, Arizona Territory, when that Territory was formed in 1863, before Nevada became a state. In 1865, it became part of Pah-Ute County, Arizona Territory. The part of Pah-Ute County north and west of the Colorado River was assigned to the new State of Nevada in 1866, however Arizona territory fought the division until 1871. Pah-Ute County became part of Lincoln County and the westernmost part, the southernmost part of Nye County.
Clark County was named for William A. Clark, a Montana copper magnate and Democratic U.S. Senator. Clark was largely responsible for construction of the Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad through the area, contributing to the region's early development. Clark County is a major tourist destination, with 150,000 hotel rooms. The Las Vegas Strip, home to most of the hotel-casinos known to many around the world, is not within the City of Las Vegas city limits, but in unincorporated Paradise. It is, however, in the Las Vegas Valley.
Clark County is coextensive with the Las Vegas MSA, a metropolitan statistical area designated by the Office of Management and Budget and used by the United States Census Bureau and other agencies for statistical purposes.
Kyle Canyon in the Mount Charleston Wilderness
The Colorado River forms the county's southeastern boundary, with Hoover Dam forming Lake Mead along much of its length. The lowest point in the state of Nevada is on the Colorado River just south of Laughlin in Clark County, where it flows out of Nevada into California and Arizona. Greater Las Vegas is a tectonic valley, surrounded by four mountain ranges, with nearby Mount Charleston being the highest elevation at 11,918 ft (3,633 m), located to the northwest. Other than the forests on Mount Charleston, the geography in Clark County is a desert. Creosote bushes are the main native vegetation, and the mountains are mostly rocky with little vegetation. The terrain slopes to the south and east. The county has an area of 8,061 square miles (20,880 km2), of which 7,891 square miles (20,440 km2) is land and 169 square miles (440 km2) (2.1%) is water.
Lincoln County – north
Mohave County, Arizona – east (observes Mountain Time)
San Bernardino County, California – south
Inyo County, California – southwest
Nye County – west
National protected areas
Calico basin in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Desert National Wildlife Refuge (part)
Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest (part)
Lake Mead National Recreation Area (part)
Moapa Valley National Wildlife Refuge
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area
Spring Mountains National Recreation Area (part)
Toiyabe National Forest (part)
Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument (part)
20 official wilderness areas in Clark County are part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. Many of these are in, or partially in, one of the preceding protected areas, as shown below. Many are separate entities that are managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM):
Arrow Canyon Wilderness (BLM)
Black Canyon Wilderness (Nevada) (Lake Mead NRA)
Bridge Canyon Wilderness (Lake Mead NRA)
Eldorado Wilderness (Lake Mead NRA / BLM)
Ireteba Peaks Wilderness (Lake Mead NRA / BLM)
Jimbilnan Wilderness (Lake Mead NRA)
Jumbo Springs Wilderness (BLM)
La Madre Mountain Wilderness (BLM / Toiyabe NF)
Lime Canyon Wilderness (BLM)
Meadow Valley Range Wilderness (BLM) mostly in Lincoln County, NV
Mormon Mountains Wilderness (BLM) mostly in Lincoln County, NV
Mount Charleston Wilderness (Toiyabe NF / BLM)
Muddy Mountains Wilderness (BLM / Lake Mead NRA)
Nellis Wash Wilderness (Lake Mead NRA)
North McCullough Wilderness (part of Sloan Canyon NCA, which is managed by BLM)
Pinto Valley Wilderness (Lake Mead NRA)
Rainbow Mountain Wilderness (BLM / Toiyabe NF)
South McCullough Wilderness (BLM)
Spirit Mountain Wilderness (Lake Mead NRA / BLM)
Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness (BLM)
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Clark County has a diverse desert flora and fauna, including higher elevation mountain areas, the desert floor and the Colorado River/Lake Mead ecosystems. Variations in diurnal temperature as well as seasonal swings in temperature create demanding adaptation elements on the species of this county. Population expansion, especially since 1970, has placed additional pressure on species in the area.
Correspondingly air quality levels prior to the 1960s were in a favorable range, but the proliferation of automobiles with the human population expansion created circumstances where some Federal Air Quality Standards began to be violated in the 1980s.
To plan for the wave of development forecast by 1980, Clark County embarked on a regional Environmental Impact Assessment funded by a Federal Section 208 program, with Sedway Cooke conducting the planning work and Earth Metrics performing environmental analysis. This endeavor projected population growth, land use changes and environmental impacts.
To prevent the loss of federal funds due to unacceptable dust levels in the Las Vegas valley, in 2003 the Nevada Air Quality Management division (under direction of Clark County officials) created the massive "Don't Be a Dusthole" campaign. The campaign successfully raised awareness of dust pollution in the Las Vegas valley, quantifiably reducing pollutants and preserving ongoing federal funding.
The Apex Landfill, at 2,200 acres (890 ha) is the nation's largest landfill. Republic Services owns and operates the landfill.
Nevada is the third most seismically active state in the U.S. (after Alaska and California); the United States Geological Survey has estimated that over the next 50 years, Clark County has a 10–20% chance of a M6.0 or greater earthquake occurring within 50 km (31 mi) of Las Vegas.
Census Pop. %±
1910 3,321 —
1920 4,859 46.3%
1930 8,532 75.6%
1940 16,414 92.4%
1950 48,289 194.2%
1960 127,016 163.0%
1970 273,288 115.2%
1980 463,087 69.5%
1990 741,459 60.1%
2000 1,375,765 85.5%
2010 1,951,269 41.8%
Est. 2019 2,266,715 16.2%
US Decennial Census
2015 income distribution by household in Las Vegas.
Population living below federal poverty line by census tracts covering Clark County.
Map of racial distribution in Las Vegas, 2010 U.S. Census. Each dot is 25 people: White, Black, Asian Hispanic, or Other (yellow)
In 2000 there were 512,253 households out of which 31.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.70% were married couples living together, 11.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.70% were non-families. 24.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.70% had someone living alone who was above age 64. The average household size was 2.65 and the average family size was 3.17.
The county population contained 25.60% under the age of 18, 9.20% from 18 to 24, 32.20% from 25 to 44, 22.30% from 45 to 64, and 10.70% who were over age 64. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 103.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.80 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $53,536, and the median income for a family was $59,485. Males had a median income of $35,243 versus $27,077 for females. The per capita income for the county was $21,785. About 7.90% of families and 10.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.10% of those under age 18 and 7.30% of those over age 64.
Large numbers of new residents in the state originate from California.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 1,951,269 people, 715,365 households, and 467,916 families in the county. The population density was 247.3 inhabitants per square mile (95.5/km2). There were 840,343 housing units at an average density of 106.5 per square mile (41.1/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 60.9% white, 10.5% black or African American, 8.7% Asian, 0.7% Pacific islander, 0.7% American Indian, 13.5% from other races, and 5.1% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 29.1% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 11.7% were German, 9.1% were Irish, 7.6% were English, 6.3% were Italian, and 2.7% were American.
Of the 715,365 households, 34.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.0% were married couples living together, 13.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 34.6% were non-families, and 25.3% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.70 and the average family size was 3.26. The median age was 35.5 years.
The median income for a household in the county was $56,258 and the median income for a family was $63,888. Males had a median income of $43,693 versus $35,324 for females. The per capita income for the county was $27,422. About 8.7% of families and 11.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.9% of those under age 18 and 7.6% of those age 65 or over.
The Las Vegas Strip looking South
The entrance to the affluent MacDonald Highlands in Henderson
Enterprise, Nevada as seen from neighboring Southern Highlands
The county is home to many gaming related companies. Station Casinos is headquartered in unincorporated Clark County, along with Golden Entertainment, American Casino & Entertainment Properties, Bally Technologies, Cannery Casino Resorts, The Majestic Star Casino, LLC, Ameristar Casinos, Archon Corporation, Boyd Gaming, Caesars Entertainment, Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts International, Wynn Resorts, DBT Online Inc., Gambler's Book Shop / GBC Press, Millennium Management Group, Navegante Group, Pinnacle Entertainment and Tropicana Entertainment
Regional Justice Center
According to data collected by the Research and Analysis Bureau of the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, Clark County's largest employers, both public and private employers, as reported in the fourth quarter of 2012:
30,000 to 39,999 Employees
Clark County School District
5,000 to 10,000 Employees
Clark County Government
Nellis Air Force Base
Wynn Las Vegas
MGM Grand Las Vegas
Aria Resort & Casino
Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
2,500 to 4,999
The Venetian Las Vegas
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
University Medical Center of Southern Nevada
Encore Las Vegas
Flamingo Las Vegas
City of Las Vegas Municipal Government
Paris Las Vegas
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority posts the historical numbers of visitors and hotel rooms in Clark County. The era of massive modern casino resorts began with the opening of the Mirage in November 1989.
The State of Nevada divides the state into several gaming districts. The reporting districts affecting Clark County are:
Boulder Strip: This region includes 33 casinos on Boulder Highway. Casinos within the Henderson city limits are included as well, such as Green Valley Ranch, Sunset Station, Fiesta, Eldorado, and Jokers Wild.
Downtown: There are 19 casinos in this reporting area.
LV Strip: This region is composed of all the casinos on Las Vegas Boulevard, from The Stratosphere at the north end to Mandalay Bay on the south end. Also included are resorts near this area, such as The Rio, South Point, and the Hard Rock; and McCarran Airport.
North Las Vegas: This region has 11 casinos and include the Fiesta Rancho, Texas Station, Jerry's Nugget, and the Santa Fe Station.
Laughlin: The casinos in Laughlin.
Mesquite: The casinos in Mesquite.
Balance of County: There are 66 casinos in this category that includes casinos at Lake Las Vegas, Jean, Primm, the Railroad Pass and Hacienda casinos, along with other casinos that don't fit any other category such as Arizona Charlie's Decatur, Gold Coast, The Orleans, The Palms, Suncoast, Rampart, and Red Rock Resort Spa and Casino
Parks and recreation
Main article: Las Vegas Valley § Parks and Attractions
The Clark County Detention Center
Clark County Government Center in Las Vegas with the World Market Center temporary buildings in background
The Clark County Commission consists of seven members who are elected to serve staggered four-year terms in biannual partisan elections. The commission members elect a chairman, who chairs their meetings. A hired county manager handles day-to-day operations under direction of the commission. The county's unincorporated towns also have appointed boards that provide advice to the commission.
The county operates out of the Clark County Government Center in the City of Las Vegas. The building is unusual in shape, and includes an outdoor amphitheater for concerts and other events.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department provides most law enforcement services in the county, including operation of the county's central jail, the Clark County Detention Center (CCDC). The present department was created in 1973 when the Clark County Sheriff's Department merged with the Las Vegas Police Department.
Other entities with police forces include University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the Clark County School District, and cities such as Henderson, Mesquite, Boulder City and North Las Vegas. The Clark County Park Police is responsible for all of the parks operated by the county and some selected special venues, such as the Clark County Amphitheater, Clark County Archery Range, and the Desert Rose Golf Course.
The Regional Justice Center replaced the Clark County Courthouse in 2005, and is about 3 blocks from downtown Fremont Street, at 200 Lewis Avenue.
The Clark County Justice Courts are divided into eleven townships. Each elects its own justices of the peace for limited jurisdiction cases and a constable. They do not correspond with city boundaries. The Las Vegas Justice Court Township the city of Las Vegas and the unincorporated towns of Blue Diamond, Cactus Springs, Enterprise, Indian Springs, Mount Charleston, Paradise, Spring Valley, Summerlin South, Sunrise Manor (partially in North Las Vegas Township), Whitney (partially in Henderson Township) and Winchester. The city of Las Vegas has a separate municipal court for traffic and criminal misdemeanor offenses that occur within the city's incorporated boundaries.
White Domes trail, Valley of Fire State Park, in NE Clark County
With nearly three-quarters of Nevada's population, Clark County plays a significant role in determining statewide Nevada elections as well the winner of the state's electoral votes in presidential elections. At the presidential level, the county has a strong Democratic lean, similar to many urban counties nationwide. This Democratic trend predates the county's explosive growth in the second half of the 20th century. Republican presidential candidates have only won the county six times from 1912 to the present day, all coming in national landslides where the Republican won over 400 electoral votes. The most recent of these wins was George H.W. Bush in 1988. At the statewide level however, the county is more of a swing county, with several Republican gubernatorial candidates & US Senators winning the county since then. The last Republican senator to win the county was John Ensign in his 2006 victory, even as Jim Gibbons lost it in his gubernatorial win over Dina Titus that year. Both Kenny Guinn and Brian Sandoval carried the county in both gubernatorial terms they won, however.
In recent years, Democratic strategy has centered around heavy turnout in Clark County, in hopes of building a large enough margin to overcome Republican votes in the rest of the state. For example, in 2018, Dean Heller carried 15 of Nevada's 17 county-level jurisdictions in his bid for a second full term. However, Democratic challenger Jacky Rosen swamped him in Clark by 92,000 votes, almost double her statewide margin of 48,500 votes. As well, since 2008, the Democratic presidential candidate has won Clark by more than enough votes to carry Nevada.
Presidential election results
The Clark County Regional Flood Control District (CCRFCD) was created in 1985 by the Nevada Legislature allowing Clark County to provide broad solutions to flooding problems.
The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada operates the RTC Transit system, and does planning for most major roadways.
The Southern Nevada Water Authority is a multi-agency group that manages the water distribution for the Las Vegas Valley.
The Las Vegas Wash Coordination Committee manages and protects the Las Vegas Wash.
Since 1999 the group has added more the 15,000 plants to stabilize the wash's banks and restore and expand the wetlands surrounding the wash. As part of the effort to restore the wash to a more natural state, they have removed more than 500,000 pounds (230,000 kg) of trash.
The Grant Sawyer State Office Building, which houses many branches of state government, is within the City of Las Vegas.
The Nevada Department of Corrections operates three prisons within Clark County. High Desert State Prison, a medium-maximum prison, and the Southern Desert Correctional Center, a medium security prison, are both near Indian Springs, Nevada.
The Florence McClure Women's Correctional Center, originally called Southern Nevada Women's Correctional Facility, opened in North Las Vegas on September 1, 1997. It was built and operated by Corrections Corporation of America. On October 1, 2004, the Department of Corrections took direct control of the facility. It houses the female death row.
The Clark County School District serves all of Clark County with 228 elementary schools, 59 middle schools, and 54 high schools being the fifth largest in the country. Student enrollment in 2014 was 324,093.
Colleges serving the area are University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), College of Southern Nevada, and Nevada State College.
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Bracketed number refers to location on map, right
Boulder City (21)
Las Vegas (10) (county seat)
North Las Vegas (9)
Blue Diamond (18)
Indian Springs (6)
Moapa Town (1)
Moapa Valley (3)
Mount Charleston (7)
Sandy Valley (16)
Spring Valley (13)
Summerlin South (12)
Sunrise Manor (11)
Whitney (formerly East Las Vegas) (26)
Air Force bases
Creech Air Force Base
Nellis Air Force Base
Other unincorporated communities
Arden (former CDP)
Coyote Springs (planned)
Crystal (former CDP)
Fort Mojave Indian Reservation (former CDP) (25)
Glendale (former CDP)
Las Vegas Indian Colony (8)
Moapa River Indian Reservation (2)
Vegas Creek (former CDP)
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