About 24 miles W of Las Vegas, 5 miles past Red Rock Canyon
Bonnie Springs Ranch/Old Nevada is a kind of Wild West theme park with accommodations and a restaurant. If you're traveling with kids, a day trip to Bonnie Springs is recommended, but it is appealing for adults, too. It could even be a romantic getaway, as it offers horseback riding, gorgeous mountain vistas, proximity to Red Rock Canyon, and temperatures 5° to 10° cooler than on the Strip.
For additional information, you can call Bonnie Springs Ranch/Old Nevada at tel. 702/875-4191, or visit them on the Web at www.bonniesprings.com.
If you're driving, a trip to Bonnie Springs Ranch can be combined easily with a day trip to Red Rock Canyon; it is about 5 miles farther. But you can also stay overnight.
Jeep tours to and from Las Vegas are available through Action Tours. Call tel. 888/288-5200 or 702/566-7400 or visit www.actiontours.com for details.
What to See & Do in Old Nevada
Old Nevada (tel. 702/875-4191; www.bonniesprings.com) is a re-creation of an 1880s frontier town, built on the site of a very old ranch. As tourist sights go, this is a classic one, if a bit worn around the edges; it's a bit cheesy, but knowingly, perhaps even deliberately, so. It's terrific for kids up to about the age of 12 or so (before teenage cynicism kicks in), but not all that bad for adults fondly remembering similar places from their own childhoods. Many go expecting a tourist trap, only to come away saying that it really was rather cute and charming. Still others find it old in the bad way.
Old Nevada looks authentic, with rustic buildings made entirely of weathered wood. And the setting, right in front of beautiful mountains with layered red rock, couldn't be more perfect for a Western. They offer shoot-'em-up stunt shows, stage melodramas (complete with moustache twirling villains for you to hiss and boo at), and an Old West town that you can wander through for souvenir shopping and tourist attraction-type activities (dress up in a period costume and get your picture taken!).
Admission is $20 per car (for up to six people), or $3 per person for those who arrive by bus. From November through April, Old Nevada is open Wednesday through Friday from 11am until 5pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10:30am until 5pm (closed Mon-Tues). The rest of the year it is open from 10:30am until 6pm Wednesday through Sunday.
What to See & Do at Bonnie Springs Ranch
There are several things to do here free of charge, and it's right next door to Old Nevada. It's quite a pretty place, in a funky, ramshackle kind of way, and in season, there are tons of flowers everywhere, including honeysuckle and roses. The main attraction is the small zoo on the premises. Now, when we say "zoo," unfortunately we mean that in addition to a petting zoo with the usual suspects (deer, sheep, goats, and rabbits) and some unusual animals (potbelly pigs and snooty llamas) to caress and feed, there is also a mazelike enclosure with wire-mesh pens that contain a variety of livestock, some of which should not be penned up (though they are well taken care of), including wolves and bobcats. Still, it's more than diverting for kids.
Less politically and ecologically distressing is the aviary, which houses peacocks, Polish chickens, peachface and blackmask lovebirds, finches, parakeets, ravens, ducks, pheasants, and geese. Keep your eyes peeled for the peacocks roaming free; with luck, they will spread their tails for a photo op. With greater luck, some of the angelic, rare white peacocks will do the same. It may be worth dropping by just in the hopes of spotting one in full fan-tailed glory.
Riding stables offer guided hour-long trail rides into the mountain area on a continuous basis throughout the day (spring-fall 10:30am-5pm, summer until 6pm). Children must be at least 6 years old to participate. Cost is $55 per person. There are also breakfast, lunch, and dinner rides, which cost from $120 to $140 per person. For more information, call tel. 702/875-4191.
Where to Stay & Dine
In Old Nevada, the Miner's Restaurant is a snack bar that looks great thanks to Western-motif accessories. Inexpensive fare is served (sandwiches, decent burgers, pizza, and hot dogs), along with fresh-baked desserts. There are tables out on the porch. In summer, you can also get beer and soft drinks in a similarly old-fashioned Beer Parlor.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.