For the Real Dirt on Las Vegas, Try a Bulldozer

Who hasn't walked past an unoccupied bulldozer or excavator and felt the urge to rearrange some landscape?

Dig This

A heavy equipment playground allows Las Vegas visitors to leave behind a path of destruction.

Dig This opened in May near the Strip. The five-acre "sandbox for adults" came about after New Zealand-born Ed Mumm took a seat on a hydraulic excavator during a home construction project in Colorado.

"After two days of being on that machine, I thought, imagine all the people who might do this if they had the opportunity," Mumm said. "I'd say 99.9 percent say, 'We passed these construction site all the time and always wanted to try it.' The thing is, when people throttle up the engine you can see the whites of their eyes. A lot of us have never grown up."

Mumm, whose background is in farming, opened his business in Steamboat Springs, Colo., then moved operations to Las Vegas. Now, visitors from LA can operate one of Mumm's 15-ton Caterpillar 315CL excavators and feel the roar of an engine, the power of the hydraulic system and the satisfaction that comes with commanding a serious piece of equipment.

The fleet also includes two D5 10-ton bulldozers and heavier equipment -- like the 95,000-pound Caterpillar D7 dozer -- that's brought out on "Mega-Days."

The experience includes a safety lesson and equipment orientation. After the in-cab lesson, operators set out on their own, but communicate with an instructor via wireless headset.

There's a dirt excavation exercise and other activites that test your new skills, such as excavator basketball.

"If you have good hand-eye coordination, that typically helps," Mumm said. "Some people struggle, but we have the tools in place to get them up to speed.

"It's very empowering, just having that much power at your disposal. When people look back and see how much carnage they've caused, it's an achievement."

Running amok, intentionally or otherwise, is prevented with a supervisor's kill switch.

This might sound like a playground for young men who still get wide-eyed at the sight of a bright yellow Tonka truck, but Mumm said about 50 percent of his customers are women. Some are wives or girlfriends who purchased birthday presents for their husbands or boyfriends, then realized it actually looks like something they want to try.

"Women tend to pick it up faster because they listen," Mumm said. "Men tend to overthink it."

And, there's the "Excavate and Exfoliate" package. That's a half-day at the park, another half at the Trump hotel spa.

Dig This has team building events for corporations and three different digging experiences. The Big Dig, three hours on a bulldozer or excavator, costs $400.

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