Sandy Valley is a sleepy little hamlet on the Nevada-California border of Clark County. About 2,000 people live in the unincorporated community about 45 minutes from Las Vegas. Sandy Valley isn’t on any major routes. It’s not on the way to or from anywhere else. And you won’t find much there in way of services. It is a quiet corner of the state – a far cry from its boisterous big-city neighbor. But if you leave the neon lights behind and head out into the desert you’ll find a great escape for equestrians.
The Sandy Valley Ranch is a sprawling 160-acre guest ranch that welcomes visitors year-round to have an authentic cowboy adventure. Here you’ll find comfortable lodging, good food, and plenty of riding. Sandy Valley Ranch is unique for its mission to preserve charro (Mexican cowboy) tradition and it holds the biggest charreadas (Mexican rodeos) in the state. The ranch also hosts weddings, corporate events, and is a filming location for television shows, movies, and music videos.
Ranch owner (and Boss Lady) Marilyn Kelch Gubler is a native Nevadan with a fascinating family legacy. Her parents were pioneers of early Las Vegas who made an enormous impact on the city’s tourism and cultural development. Marilyn has a long history in state politics and philanthropy. She purchased the Sandy Valley property in 1997 when there was nothing there but open desert. She started building and the ranch officially opened in February of 2000.
Lodging and Accommodations
Equine guests are welcome at Sandy Valley Ranch. They’ll stay in the mare motel, which features roomy covered runs, feeders, and water tanks. The ranch staff will feed your horse and clean your pens unless you request otherwise. You can use the ranch’s feed (hay cubes) or bring your own. You’ll also have access to the ranch’s arenas, round pen, hot walker, and wash racks.
For human guests, the ranch has RV hookups, but you’ll want to stay in one of their unique Airbnb options. Choose between a covered wagon, two tiny houses, a restored vintage trailer, or a tipi. Each one is utterly charming and cozy in its own way. The tipi has its own deck with a sitting area, fire pit, camp kitchen, and outdoor shower. One of the tiny houses has a rooftop sitting area that offers great views of the ranch and the valley.
All the spaces include heating and air conditioning, thoughtful decor and furnishings, comfy beds, games, snacks, and more. Drink your coffee watching the sunrise and in the evening get a campfire going, sit back, and enjoy incredible night skies. Despite the proximity to Las Vegas, you can see the Milky Way from the ranch on a clear night.
All the lodging is within walking distance to the ranch amenities, including the main ranch house. That’s where you’ll find a huge kitchen, a gift store, and the offices. The ranch staff cooks and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner for guests. No one will go hungry here – the portions are hearty and everything is delicious. The kitchen can accommodate some dietary restrictions with advance notice.
In the gift store, visitors can pick up a Sandy Valley Ranch t-shirt or bandana, cowboy hat, or some jewelry. Be sure to check out some of the historic photos of the ranch on the walls throughout the ranch house. Well-behaved dogs are welcome too, but the ranch has its own pack that roams the grounds along with other farm animals.
The ranch offers guided trail rides for guests on and off the property. Unlike a lot of trail operations, these rides are not nose-to-tail on a set track. Riders are free to pick their path through the desert and even trot, lope, and gallop if they are comfortable. Guided rides range from 1.5 to 3 hours long with skilled wranglers who are chatty and knowledgeable. The ranch horses are all in great shape and lively enough to give even experienced riders a good time.
If you bring your own horse, you are free to ride with or without the wranglers. The ranch has its own trail system that winds through mesquite groves along easy sandy trails. These are a great way to settle in and get to know the property. Once you are warmed up, head out and blaze a trail on nearly 200,000 acres of BLM land adjacent to the property. You can ride out right from the ranch in almost all directions. Be sure to ask staff for recommendations on where to go.
From mountains to sand dunes, there is plenty of terrain diversity and the views are always interesting. The Mojave Desert terrain never fails to impress. You’ll ride through creosote, Joshua trees, yucca, cholla, and barrel cactus. Keep an eye open for wild burros which occasionally roam these parts, along with roadrunners, desert tortoises, and other southern Nevada wildlife.
Remember to pack water. Temps can reach over 100 degrees by late spring. Your horse may need shoes or boots if you choose to ride into the mountains. Keep your horse away from the cholla, unless you want to discover how much bucking power he has.
Other Things to Do
Back on the ranch, there are plenty of activities to keep guests entertained. You can try out team penning and sorting under the tutelage of the ranch cowboys. Ride one of the ranch’s horses or use your own. The cowboys will bring out a small herd of some of their cows (big ones, with horns!) and teach you the ways. If you’ve never tried it, do not pass up the chance while you are here. It is so much fun and is sure to leave everyone with big smiles.
Sandy Valley Ranch also is the only place in Nevada where you can learn how to ride a bull. The experience begins with several hours of instruction, viewing and critiquing videos of champion bull riders, and practice on a bucking barrel. After you are outfitted in a vest, helmet, chaps, and spurs, you’ll get your chance to ride a real steer. Can you make it 8 seconds? Few guests do, but no matter how long you stay on, it is sure to be an experience you will never forget.
The ranch also offers surrey rides (yes, with a fringe on top), cattle drives, campfire cookouts, cowboy games, and overnight rides. Or, you are free to just wander the ranch and take in all the sights at your leisure. Visitors will love meeting the resident cattle, goats, chickens, and Pig Newton, the ranch’s wandering pot belly pig.
You can do as much or as little as you like at Sandy Valley Ranch. Relax and enjoy the solitude of the desert or dive into the ranch activities. All the staff
If You Go
Sandy Valley Ranch hosts several large rodeo events throughout the year. Check their schedule for those. Setup your visit through the reservation office. Staff will help you put together a package that includes lodging and activities.
We do not recommend trailering in on the road from Pahrump. Follow I-15 south of Las Vegas and take Highway 161. Just before you reach Goodsprings, turn off onto Sandy Valley Road. The ranch is three miles over the state line in California.
Learn More: http://sandyvalleyranch.com/