Nevada’s Western heritage lives on at guest ranches

Scattered across Nevada’s vast outback, several working livestock ranches welcome vacationing guests. Nevada’s Western heritage comes to life through a variety of outdoor adventures and activities, often in historic settings and always featuring the Silver State’s wide-open spaces and wild, beautiful scenery.

The closest guest ranch to Las Vegas is 45 miles away in Sandy Valley west of old Goodsprings near the Nevada-California border. In operation since 2000, the Sandy Valley Ranch welcomes visitors year-round. Run by Las Vegas native Marilyn Kelch Gubler, Sandy Valley Ranch attracts mainly daytime visitors, including Las Vegas residents, tourists, conventioneers and corporate groups. It is a popular site for weddings and fundraisers and as a location for film crews.

A working cattle operation, the ranch provides training in cowboy skills such as cow penning and cattle herding and lessons for rodeo events such as bull riding. Its arenas are frequently used for both Western and Mexican-style rodeos. Many guests enjoy interaction with the livestock and poultry as they help with feeding, watering and egg gathering. Guided horseback trail rides into the surrounding desert and foothills are available for novice or more experienced riders 11 or older. Advanced booking will ensure a secluded experience at Sandy Valley Ranch. Check for details at

Located in the center of Nevada, Ike’s Canyon Ranch, formerly called the Horse-n-Fly Ranch, offers its guests outdoor adventures and tours to view wild horses or visit ghost towns, Indian sites, hot springs and Diana’s Punch Bowl (a very hot geothermal feature that created a 70-foot crater above an azure pool often called the Devil’s Cauldron). The ranch accommodates up to eight guests at a time, housed in a modern log cabin and a restored stone cabin. Guests explore on foot, in vehicles or on mountain bikes. Call 775-761-7777 for details and reservations.

The historic Soldier Meadows Guest Ranch is north of Gerlach in Humboldt County. It sits along the Lassen-Applegate Trail used by westward-bound wagon trains from the mid-1840s to the late 1860s. The oldest buildings on the ranch date to around 1866, a period of unrest and strife between native tribes and settlers. Cavalry soldiers from the California Volunteers built Camp McGarry at nearby Summit Lake to protect travelers but spent their winters at Soldier Meadows because of its lower elevation and numerous hot springs. Today, guests at Soldier Meadows may participate in ranch activities, as well as self-guided hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, wildlife watching, fishing and hunting, gold panning and gem hunting. Guests stay in the main lodge or a bunkhouse or in areas reserved for tents and RVs. Visit for details.

The Iveson Ranch near the Black Rock Desert is a privately owned wildlife preserve where guests can learn about conservation. It offers bed-and-breakfast lodgings and sites for tents or RVs. Activities include backcountry access by horse or on ATV trails. For information, visit

Elko County boasts several old ranches that welcome vacationers. The Tent Mountain Guest Ranch in Starr Valley offers ranch chores, fishing, hunting, target shooting, day trips and winter sports. Visit for details.

The Cottonwood Ranch, north of Wells, has a spacious lodge and offers summer livestock drives and winter sports. Explore online at

The 71 Ranch, near Deeth, has been raising cattle since 1879. It welcomes 15 guests at a time, housed in a lodge, cabins and an authentic sod house. They spend days on “City Slicker”-style trail drives April through November, among other activities. Visit for information.

Margo Bartlett Pesek’s Trip of the Week column appears on Sundays.

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