Las Vegas was discovered by Spanish explorers in 1829 when a 60-man party veered off the Spanish Trail on their way to Los Angeles. The group was led by Mexican trader Antonio Armijo, and they camped 100 miles northeast of what we now call Las Vegas. A scouting party left the group in search of water, and Rafael Rivera went into the desert to explore. There he discovered the Las Vegas Springs. This shortened the Spanish Trail and sped things up for gold seekers heading West.
“Las Vegas” means “The Meadows” in Spanish.