Reno’s Pretty Horses: Mustangs and Trail Rides

Photo by Georgia Fisher

Paying homage to the American West's living icons in Reno

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Reno is home to all sorts of horses — a fact that will appeal to at least 90 percent of kids in your family. We made that number up, actually, but we’ll stand behind it.

You’ll find a couple of storybook, white-fence neighborhoods here full of traditional equestrians and imported steeds, and a few more areas with working ranch animals and cowboys and cowgirls apt to laugh inwardly at the sight of an English saddle. Wild mustangs are another iconic part of Nevada culture, albeit a sadly controversial one that’s drawn the ire of ranchers, great concern from animal-rights groups and rather hinky attempts at compromise from the Bureau of Land Management.

Where to See or Ride Horses in Reno

At least one outfit in town, Sonny Boys, offers mustang-sighting tours by car, but many folks chart their own paths on undeveloped land, especially a few exits past the Outlets at Legends on Interstate-80.

Do know you won’t always see the horses when you try — they’re wild, after all — you may inadvertently find yourself on private property, and feeding these creatures is illegal. For a guaranteed sighting, full legality, probable nose-petting and the chance to adopt of a hayburner of your own, though, you can attend a family-friendly prison auction in nearby Carson City, or visit the National Wild Horse and Burro Center at Palomino Valley en route to stunning Pyramid Lake.

Another horsey option — one that’s time-dependent but arguably the most adrenaline-packed — is the Reno Rodeo in June. The especially brave and deep-pocketed visitor can even sign up to be part of a working cattle drive.

Meanwhile, if you’re game for a mellow guided ride, try Verdi Trails West — a no-frills outfit on a massive, rolling piece of state-line property less than 20 minutes from downtown Reno. The summer skies are transcendent, the horses are dopey and friendly, and if you use your imagination, you can pretend you’re back in time, trekking somewhere unsettled.

Giddy up.

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