When you visit Las Vegas it is easy to forget that this area was once the wild wild west and this world-famous tourist attraction was once just a stopping-point on a journey to the west coast. Well, Bonnie Springs Ranch is a tiny taste of what frontier life was once like. Saloons and gunfights accent the experience and, while you may find it to be a little silly at times and the authenticity is suspect, it is a great place to take kids on a day trip outside of Vegas.
Bonnie Springs Ranch is a combination theme park and historical site visitors center. The town is a recreation of one of the old "tent cities" that sprang up in the late 1800s as settlers came west. The scene is set with the worn wood buildings and the swinging saloon doors, and the strolling townspeople and roaming cowboys (actors playing characters) sell the illusion.
Embrace the Kitsch
When you decide to visit a variety park like Bonnie Springs Ranch, try to remember that this is a tourist attraction aimed at kids and families, not history buffs. Accept the silliness and forget that the costumes may not be totally accurate. Enjoy the banter between characters and employees for what it is—a dramatization aimed at entertaining. Set your cynicism aside and just enjoy the show.
At Bonnie Springs Ranch, the kids will have some fun and you might just learn a little something about the old west. Younger children will love the petting zoo where they can feed the large ducks and turtles in the pond. There are also pony rides, simulated gunfights, and a wax museum for the whole family to enjoy. The ranch offers train rides, though it is recommended to call before you arrive to ensure the train is running.
Adults will appreciate the nature and scenery of the mountains adjacent to Red Rock Canyon, which is so different from the hectic mood of the Vegas strip. Bonnie Springs is also cooler in summer, offering a respite from the heat of the desert. Finally, there are shops and a cocktail lounge on the premises—a perfect way for the adults of the family to unwind.
Although Bonnie Springs Ranch is more of a family destination, for those who find romance in the wild west, there is a chapel where you can get married, pioneer style.
While you are at Bonnie Springs Ranch you can also visit Red Rock Canyon. The best way to experience this area is to make a day of it and include two attractions in one trip. The wide open spaces of Red Rock Canyon should be seen even if you just make the long drive around the loop inside the park. If you have the time and the budget choose the horseback ride and you'll be treated to a really impressive time in the nearby canyon and red rocks. This is worth the price of the excursion.
How to Get There and Where to Stay
1 Gunfighter lane (Off the Las Vegas strip)
Blue Diamond, NV
Check the website for up-to-date hours and admission prices.
Check out Red Rock Hotel and Casino nearby for lunch or dinner after your visit.