As the summer heats up you might find yourself dreaming of cooler temperatures up in the mountains. As luck would have it, there is a new guest ranch in Nevada that is ready to welcome you and your horse. The Martin Ranch itself is far from new. In fact, it is a designated centennial ranch, which means it’s been in continuous operation by the same family for more than 100 years. But now the family is branching out, inviting visitors to come and get a taste of ranch life.
The Martin Ranch is nestled in the east side of the Monitor Range of central Nevada, on the border of Nye and Eureka counties. It was founded in 1887 and is now in its sixth generation of operation. Today, Vickie Buchanan is the matriarch of the ranch family, operating it with her children and grandchildren. I spent a few days there with my horse to find out what it has to offer guests. If you’re looking to ride and relax in a beautiful setting you’ll definitely want to make this your next destination.
The Martin Ranch is not far from the exact center of the state – but that remoteness is what makes it a must-visit destination. Sitting at 7,500 feet in the Toiyabe National Forest, the ranch offers a respite from the heat of the high desert. As you arrive you’ll immediately notice how green it is! The property is surrounded by lush native meadows of grass and colorful wildflowers, tall aspens along a creek, willows, and hillsides thick with juniper and pinyon. You’ll see cows grazing in the lower pastures and may even spot a band or two of wild horses.
The main part of the ranch features several historic buildings, including the original adobe homestead cabin, a one-room schoolhouse, bunkhouse, modest ranch house, plus wooden corrals and barns. Old wagons are strewn about the property, along with vintage saddles and other ranching tools. The ranch is entirely off-the-grid, powered by solar, wind, and generator. There’s no cell service or wifi, so be prepared to leave civilization behind when you visit.
Guests have a number of options while visiting the Martin Ranch. There are several tent campsites available, each with picnic tables, a fire ring, and outhouses. The half-acre sites are all tucked away and private from the main part of the ranch, so you’ll feel like you have it all to yourself. Choose a campground with views of the meadows or hidden in the aspens along the creek. There is also a spot available for larger living quarter rigs or groups.
I camped at a lovely location alongside the meadow which was thick with wild irises in full bloom. Hummingbirds and butterflies visited often, as did a variety of songbirds. It was absolutely splendid – a beautiful and relaxing spot to lounge in front of the campfire and look at the stars. It was hard to leave!
If you don’t want to pitch your own tent, you can rent a wall tent or a cook tent. These come with a bed or cot, a wood stove, and a lantern. The cook tent includes a camp stove with all the basic culinary items for preparing meals, including a coffee pot, fry pan, and utensils.
For the next step up in comfort, visitors can stay in the historic bunkhouse located in the main part of the ranch. It has been renovated and can accommodate up to six people. It features beds, a living room, kitchen, and full bathroom with a shower. In the near future, the ranch plans to install a wood-fire hot tub outside the bunkhouse.
Equine visitors have accommodations as well! If you let the family know you are bringing a horse, they will be happy to set up a nice panel pen by your campsite. If you’re staying at the bunkhouse, your horse can stay in one of the historic wooden corrals. For safety reasons, the ranch does not allow guests to bring their own pens. You’ll need to provide your own hay, but there is water available.
For an additional fee, the ranch will provide catered meals upon request – which I highly recommend just so you can hear some of the captivating family stories. The Martin Ranch family are wonderful hosts.
The Monitor Range is up there for me as one of my favorite ranges for riding. The Martin Ranch offers access to 40,000+ acres of National Forest, so simply pick a direction and ride! Check out Horse Heaven Mountain, Whiterock Canyon, or Martin Ridge. The views are fabulous the higher you ride and the terrain is diverse with plenty of trees, open grassy plains, tall aromatic sage, dramatic canyons, and cliffs.
Choose from Forest Service roads, old two-tracks, or even mustang trails. You can ride as easy or as technical as you feel comfortable. Footing is good, but shoes and boots are recommended in the mountains. Keep an eye out for wild horses, pronghorn antelope, elk, deer, and other Nevada animals. There are several old homestead sites in the area and springs and stock ponds scattered in the hills, though not all flow year-round. Ask Vickie about trails and water locations before you head out.
Other Things to Do
This is still a working ranch. You can be involved as much or as little as you like. Feel free to sit back and watch the family move cattle and milk goats, or jump in and lend a hand! You can also explore the area on ATV, mountain bike, or take a drive and visit nearby hot springs or ghost towns. Rockhounds will find plenty of interesting things to pick up in the Monitor Range. The ranch is open to visitors year-round, so even in the winter visitors can ride, cross-country ski, or bring snowmobiles.
The Martin Ranch is about 60 miles southwest of Eureka, 150 miles from Elko, 250 miles from Reno, and 360 miles from Las Vegas. The road to the Martin Ranch is off Highway 50. It’s several miles on a good gravel road up to the ranch itself, with signs to guide you.
Learn More: www.martinranchnv.com
Story and Photos by Samantha Szesciorka
Story and Photos by Samantha Szesciorka