Bonnie Springs Ranch
Old West Town within View of Red Rock Canyon
A Natural Alternative to Gambling and Sleazy Strip Shows
Only 30 minutes west of Las Vegas and right beside Red Rock Canyon lies Bonnie Springs Ranch, an assortment of authentic old west buildings collected from various locations throughout the West and laid out here for your amusement. For a small admission fee, you will see Wild West shows (the actors are friendly, approachable and will talk your ear off if given the chance), belly up to a real old west bar that unfortunately only serves soft drinks, drink in an atmosphere that is surprisingly lush considering it's smack-dab in the middle of the Mojave Desert and trod over fake graves with amusing headstones.
More Amusing than a Real Graveyard
The Petting Zoo
In addition to the old west town, Bonnie Springs has a zoo of sorts, parts of which are a petting zoo. When she was alive, Bonnie herself could be found fraternizing with chickens that have a free run of the place; however, the zoo lives on and contains a number of pleasant surprises such as wolves, emus and a Canadian lynx. Try not to step on the chickens, peacocks and deer that roam the facility freely.
Watch Your Step!
Affordable Family Fun and Food
The restaurant serves up familiar fare at reasonable prices, but also includes a few items you'd be hard pressed to find in most restaurants, like bison and elk burgers and a basket of chicken livers and gizzards. It's also the only restaurant I've seen in ages where you can get a porterhouse steak for under $35 with all the fixings.
The drive from Vegas to Bonnie Springs is a lovely ride, taking you right past impressive Red Rock Canyon. Just outside of the Ranch's parking lot, you are likely to encounter wild burros, about the most adorable animals you will ever see in your life. If you bring carrots, they'll follow you anywhere.
The Ranch Has a Spooky Reputation
For those who enjoy stories of the supernatural, this ranch should be on your travel itinerary. Several guests have reported seeing apparitions, hearing voices in the empty Opera House, seeing the out of commission carousel spin on windless days and the employees had to nail down the figures in the wax museum to keep them from moving around on their own. While I never witnessed anything like this, I still strongly recommend a visit to the ranch. It's a whole day's worth of entertainment for cheap. And don't forget to tip the bartender: he keeps a loaded shotgun behind the bar and looks like the type who isn't afraid to use it.
Directions and Fees
To reach Bonnie Springs from Las Vegas, take Hwy 159 west, then south past Calico Basin and follow the signs. Admission is $10 for adults and $7 for children under 7 years of age and includes full access to the facilities mentioned above.