In mid-March of 2019, after about 45 years of operation, Bonnie Springs Ranch and it’s Old Nevada replica mining town, just West of Red Rock Park, closed down. We feature Bonnie Springs Ranch here not because it is a hiking destination, but rather a long-time fixture in Red Rock Canyon.
The ranch was originally purchased by Bonnie McGaugh, daughter of western film actor Wilbur McGaugh, in 1952 and in its early years featured horseback riding and a restaurant. The Old Nevada mining town opened in 1974, carefully modeled to replicate an 1889s mining town. A miniature steam train was added along with a shootout show, followed by a hanging.
The petting zoo was added in the mid-1970s, populated largely by cats, dogs, chickens and rabbits that had been abandoned by their owners and left at the ranch. A few more exotic animals were included. A 50-room motel was constructed in 1979.
In its heyday in the first decade of the 21st century as many as 130,000 visitors experienced Old Nevada, the motel and the zoo. In 2018 the ranch was sold to a housing developer and had its last day of operation in mid-March 2019.