The Wheel of Misfortune is the unofficial title for some old industrial-looking ruins turned graffiti playground just outside Lake Las Vegas.
I stumbled upon some pictures of Wheel of Misfortune several years ago and have been wanting to get out there ever since. With all the state and federal lands shut down during Covid-19, we finally made the trip out to find the Wheel of Misfortune and do some exploring.
It was funny that we went there during the Covid-19 shutdown because one of the first things we saw was this great piece of artwork.
How to Get There
Surprisingly, these ruins were incredibly easy to find and even easier to get to.
If you are coming from Las Vegas or Henderson, you simply head east on Lake Mead Parkway as if you were going to Lake Las Vegas. Shortly after you pass the turn for Lake Las Vegas (look for the big waterfall that is unexpected), there is a trailer storage park on the right side of the road.
After you pass the trailer storage park, you should see some ruins in the desert off to your right. There is a little turnout on the right side of the road where you can park. You will recognize it from the picture below.
From the parking area, it is an easy stroll out to the ruins. If you aren’t interesting in exploring and just want to see the Wheel of Misfortune, it happens to be the drum furthest from the parking area so don’t get bummed when you go to the first drum and don’t see it. We actually saw people go look in the first drum and then disappointingly walk back to their cars!
What Exactly is the Wheel of Misfortune?
The ruins at the Wheel of Misfortune are actually from an old mining complex. There are several big circular drum-type ruins intermixed with additional shafts going down into the earth with additional horizontal shafts going into the vertical ones.
What I refer to as drums were actually used as thickener pits that would leach a processing pulp in the process of manganese. Manganese was mined at this site, which operated as the Three Kids Mine from 1917 until 1961.
The old ruins got their start as an attraction in 2012 when graffiti artist Aware turned one of the big empty drums into a wheel-of-fortune style wheel. Since then, graffiti artists have covered nearly every available foot of the ruins. There were even a few artists out tagging when we visited.
You can actually see some footage of Aware and his crew creating the Wheel of Misfortune and what it looked like when it was completed back in 2012.
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Should you visit the Wheel of Misfortune?
If you are visiting Las Vegas and only have a limited about of time, I would skip the Wheel of Misfortune.
If you live in the area or are going to be spending lots of time in Las Vegas, it is worth checking out. It will take a couple hours once you factor in the drive time from Las Vegas.
If you are going to be in the Lake Las Vegas area, I would definitely stop by. You can get out and explore for 20-30 minutes without going out of the way at all and it is definitely something different and well worth it if you are going to be there anyways.
Should you take kids to the Wheel of Misfortune?
Unless you have older kids, I wouldn’t take them to the Wheel of Misfortune. We took our kids, which were 6, 5 and 1. The 6 and 5 year olds did okay, but didn’t really have much fun.
The kids had fun for a minute looking at the graffiti, but there really wasn’t much else for them to do. Because of the open shafts and broken glass all over, they couldn’t really climb or play anywhere.
As you would expect, the broken glass, open holes and empty spray paint cans made it a nightmare for trying to keep our 1 year old safe. He was ultimately the reason we left earlier than we probably would have otherwise.
The Wheel of Misfortune is definitely a one-of-a-kind attraction that even most locals don’t know about. It is a bit out of the way from Las Vegas, but worth the trip if your time in Las Vegas isn’t limited.
If you have any questions about the Wheel of Misfortune or want to share your experiences, check out our Facebook group, where we are happy to hear from you!