Bonnie Springs Ranch is the place for some simple, uncomplicated ole' West fun. Whether it's adults only or adults on vacation with the kids, it's a cool little place everyone gets a kick out of.
It features 3 main spots to enjoy. The main attraction is Old Nevada, a replica of an authentic 1880's mining town. Also there's the little Zoo that's misunderstood, which I'll explain more about in that section.
The last spot is their Western themed Restaurant and Bar which isn't part of Old Nevada. It's located right next to it so it's accessible to anyone who comes out to Red Rock.
Bonnie Springs Ranch is the third stop along SR 159, one mile past Spring Mountain Ranch and you'll clearly see signs letting you know to look for the entrance.
When driving in to Bonnie Springs Ranch you'll wind along its small 2 lane road with the richly red banded and dappled portion of the Wilson Cliffs in front of you as you're coming in.
In the evening as the sun is setting, many of these mountains look exactly as the mountains Maxfield Parrish often worked into his paintings.
Chances are good you've seen them too and didn't know who the artist was.
Being a fan of his work, I was amazed with the sight of this my first month out here.
As you go along a little further in you'll see a little train depot, overflow parking area and a Motel.
The western feel of Old Nevada begins in the dirt lot that is the main parking area in front of it, to your right. As it's been for a long time, it looks more like a place where you would tie up your horse rather than park a Mustang.
Out front at Old Nevada you'll see a neat looking little train that runs a short route out to the overflow parking area depot and around. It's a natural for the photo op's it provides and kids get a big kick out of riding it.
Outside of a movie set in Hollywood, there aren't too many places like this and its appeal is to the kid in us all.... as well as kids of all ages.
It makes them feel like they're in a big ole' movie set playground.
The backdrop of Red Rock right behind the town also gives this place a sense of time and realness. With little imagination, you can get a feel for what it may of looked and seemed like back in the days of the American West.
The shows here have Cowboy actors doing program skits like gunfights, bank robbery, hangings, melodramas, and it's all done with a tongue in cheek attitude.
On my recent visit I hung out in the Saloon until the start of the hangin... which featured a villain in black, a not so bright deputy (goofy fun for the kids), a sheriff who runs the show, and a little helpful participation from those in the audience.
It's lighthearted, easygoing fun with an occasional double entendre grown-ups will catch if they're paying attention.
They have a little wax museum, gift shop and a few other kid friendly spots such as the shooting gallery.
Inside the venue is where you'll access the entrance to the zoo, (which I cover in a separate section) and it's included with the admission price to Old Nevada. which is presently $10.00
The main menu of events play out on the weekends with a few not running during weekdays, such as the Posse show and musical entertainment, but this can vary depending on holidays and special events.
Check out the Bonnie Springs Ranch website to know what is or isn't going on the day you plan to visit.
Bonnie Springs Ranch also has horseback riding available as well as pony rides for the kids.
If you're visiting Bonnie Springs Ranch during October you'll enjoy a special treat as they deck the place out for Halloween and call it Bonnie Screams.
The whole town is for rent for corporate events, film and other commercial events, and if you're hankering for an Ole' West theme for your wedding you can git'er done here also.
No matter what age, you'll enjoy its feel and relaxing simple fun.
You'll also take home some great photo's and memories one can only get within the unique settings of Old Nevada.
The little Zoo at Bonnie Springs Ranch is included in your admission to Old Nevada and the entrance for it is through the Gift shop there.
The Zoo features some of our native Nevadan desert animals, along with a few that aren't.
As you walk around you'll also be among some of their domesticated animals which is where the 'petting zoo' part comes in.
You'll get to take pictures with deer, miniature horses, a variety of goats and rams and very colorful roosters.
Having read some of the reviews and comments about Bonnie Springs Ranch, as you probably have, I'd like to address a few things to give you as reliable and accurate picture of the place as possible.
First and foremost is that it's a small Non-Profit Organization. If you’ve ever been acquainted with any small business that is a non-profit, a common thing you’ll often notice is a ‘no frills’ edge with them out of financial necessity.
Funds and dedicated personnel are challenges, yet there are people who love this place that donate and volunteer their time and services, but generally speaking, any small non-profit has its challenges.
In those reviews it was commonly pointed out the animals seemed well fed and cared for, which is good considering it's a true outdoors Zoo.
That has also been my experience with Bonnie Springs Ranch Zoo the dozens of times I come out here throughout the last 38 years. It was at this little Zoo that I saw my first real buffalo up close in person ... and I was stunned at how immense this creature was.
Until then I had only seen it on TV but in real life?.... Wow. That was many years ago but I’ll never forget that wonder struck feeling of being so close to such a massive and unique beast.
It's obvious some reviewers expected something along the lines of a for-profit city Zoo, which in every way, Bonnie Springs Ranch Zoo is not.
It’s a small, quaint little Zoo residing in a Western setting.
Without someone pointing that out, it's natural that many people felt deceived thinking it's a 'regular' city Zoo.
The big plus to its smallness is that you still get to see some of these beautiful creatures up closer and more personal than you could in a big city Zoo.
Others commented that the zoo smelled, and I couldn't help but laugh at this but again, this stems from the expectation of a sanitized big city Zoo.
Bonnie Springs Ranch Zoo is closer to the real deal you would of found in the old West.
It’s outdoors so it's more like a working ranch or farm and like those, it too has its natural musky smells.
Considering the expectations of a larger city Zoo, I can fully understand why the reviews and comments on the Zoo were negative and reflected various levels of disappointments.
I considered using animal habitat, little animal exhibit, etc., to better describe it, but none of those seem to do that any better, so it became important for me to address this so you don't get the same 'city Zoo' expectations.
Also, it would be a shame to not see this little Zoo based solely on the comments or reviews because all of this is honest misunderstandings. That's why I call it the 'little Zoo that's misunderstood'.
To be clear, it's a little Zoo with some cool animals you don't get a chance to see up close very often, in an outdoors setting that will have natural animal scents and sounds.
A place like this is even better for kids because often for their first time, they get closer to these creatures than they normally would ever get the chance to.
Considering you get Old Nevada and this little Zoo for $10.00, this much I can guarantee. You absolutely won't get this much bang for your 10 bucks no wheres else!
Whether you spend your time doing the Scenic Loop, spend a peaceful lazy day at Spring Mountain Ranch or get your appetite running around Old Nevada and the Zoo, when it comes chow time, the Restaurant and Bar at Bonnie Springs is where you want go.
It's the only full service restaurant in Red Rock and sits outside of and next to Old Nevada, so it's free to access.
If you're coming from other parts of Red Rock, catch the Bonnie Springs Ranch entrance and simply follow it all the way in.
The Restaurant and Bar has a pond out front where you'll see different kinds of ducks wading around.
In the past I've seen Geese and Swans and I've been meaning to ask where they've gone because the last 3-4 times out here I haven't seen any of them hanging out.
Out front by the pond they have the old gumball machines with goodies for the critters, but bring some quarters if you or the kids would like to feed them. If the restaurant is low on coin, they may not be able to give you any.
If you take a walk around the grounds by the pond, you'll see Peacocks strolling around the walkways and buildings there.
There's lots of them and if you set it up right you can get a good pic with one since they're pretty used to people.
They still have some large pens where you may see a bull, horses or other large animals. In the past, these areas were part of the Zoo before it got incorporated with Old Nevada.
In the restaurant and bar, you'll find a natural warmth and coziness from its wood and amber lit Western themed interior.
Its centerpiece flag-stoned fireplace has often been my favorite spot there after a busy afternoon in Red Rock, especially during winter. Nothing like a cocktail by the fireplace, feet up and enjoying good times with good company.
The chow is good, reasonably priced and if you're in the mood to try a little different western grub, they have bison burgers on the menu.
Even if just for cocktails, this little bar is a great place to unwind a little before moving on to your next destination. One thing to know is that the western theme plays all throughout the place, which includes the restrooms. You'll see what I mean if the occasion calls.
If you want a keepsake to take home with you, they normally have logo T-shirts, jackets, hats and hoodies along with other items.
If you want to leave your own little keepsake in the place, you can stick a dollar up on the money vine by the bar.
If you're around after nightfall with little or no moon in sight, you'll see one of my favorite things out here. Stars ... stars ... and more stars all across the night sky ... as well as the plane of the Milky Way.
For me, this place has always been a great way to top off my day at Red Rock. When you get the chance to do the same, I think you'll agree.
To check out times, shows and events at Bonnie Springs Ranch, visit the Bonnie Springs Ranch website and get the latest to find out what's going on the day you plan to visit.