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Las Vegas Side Trip: Horseback Riding

Escape the Frenzy on a Friendly Horse

By Tony Conboy III

Horses at Sagebrush Ranch
Photo Courtesy of Tony Conboy III
Note: Guest writer Tony Conboy wrote the review of Sagebrush Ranch below, but not everyone agrees with him. Before you go, check the reviews at tripadvisor to get more input.

What: One- and two-hour horseback rides in the Nevada desert, followed by a meal.
Where: 30 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, about 30 miles away. The ranch provides free pickup service at several casinos on the Strip.
Who: Anyone over age 6 who is able to sit on a horse for one to two hours. Non-riders are welcome.
Tips: Advance reservations required. Wear comfortable clothing and closed-toed shoes. Dress for the season, and remember you're going into the hills. Summer is very hot and sunny, while fall and winter can be windy and chilly.

What are the top three activities that come to mind when you think of Las Vegas? Gambling, shows and horseback treks through the foothills? If you wouldn't include riding as one of the top three Las Vegas activities, you're not alone. But, believe it or not, just 30 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, you can ride through the desert, far from the bright lights, commotion and loud noises of the Las Vegas casinos.

At Sagebrush Ranch, you will find a slice of the Old West within view of the Las Vegas skyline. The rides take new and experienced "cowboys" through the desert for a close view of yucca, sagebrush and Joshua trees, not to mention the rattlesnakes that love this environment. It gives the visitor a quick, intimate glimpse of the sights, sounds and feel of the untamed Nevada outdoors.

Never ridden a horse? No problem! The trail guides help everyone feel at home, even those who have never been on a horse before. The rides are popular with foreign visitors, too. "We have a lot of Europeans going on our rides," said our guide Cody, who was a "real" cowboy hailing from Wyoming. "They don't have anything like this over there in Europe, so they really enjoy it."

The ride is also great for children, with youngsters as young as six years old riding their own horse. My six-year-old daughter, Chloe, whose only previous riding was experience was the ponies at the carnival, had a great time on a horse chosen for her because of its gentle temperament.

The ride itself is a very leisurely, organized event led by two guides who bring to mind old Western movies as they ride out accompanied by their trusty dog. The horses travel in single file along the rock-strewn trail. Safety is always stressed, and the guides check often to ensure those first-time cowboys are having a good time.

You choose your trip based on the meal that accompanies it, selecting the Breakfast Ride, Lunch Ride or Sunset Steak Ride. Riders eat at the conclusion of each ride, and can choose to sit inside, or outside next to the fire pit and just a few feet from their horses. I don't know if it was the mountain air, but lunch on our ride (hamburgers, chicken, potato salad, drinks and dessert) was great.

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