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A safari right out of the Old West

Getaway: Set your spirit free among wild horses at this luxury eco-resort in Nevada


by: MUSTANG MONUMENT - Mustang Monument guests enjoying the ranch.

Adventurers go on African safaris to experience the wild and see the animals firsthand. Starting in June, travelers will be able to experience a “Western safari” without leaving the North American continent.

Mustang Monument, a 900-square-mile ranch outside of Elko, Nev., is an eco-sanctuary for rescued wild mustangs. To date, the property has 600 wild mustangs that have been rescued from slaughter.

The property, purchased by Madeleine Pickens, is her dream development. “This place is so beautiful, it needs to be enjoyed by others,” she says.

With that in mind, Pickens has developed a luxury eco-resort on the property that gives well-heeled visitors a place to relax and enjoy the outdoors in a uniquely western setting. The resort is geared for wellness retreats, corporate team building and other adventurous getaways.

Herds of wild horses, elk and other wild animals roam freely on the turf, with the Spruce Mountains as a backdrop along with the endless blue sky that blankets the area. The setting has not changed for centuries — bunch grass, sage, water and freedom satisfy the wildlife. Visitors get a taste of what the Wild West was. The California Trail runs right through the property; the difference now is the accommodations and amenities guests enjoy while visiting “The Ranch.”

by: ANN TERRY HILL - Wild mustangs feeding.

Pickens has turned her 600,000 acres into her answer to save these wild mustangs: She will pasture them and allow them live out their days in peace. To accompany this plan, she has developed an ecotourism resort that she describes as something as close to an African safari as one can get in the States.

Mustang Monument has more than 50 luxury tipis spread out over a parcel of the land. These tipis, specially ordered for the resort and decorated with Western and native tribal designs, are furnished mainly with items from Pottery Barn and include 1,600-thread-count linens, deluxe beds, specialized bathtubs and shower facilities inside a separate tipi. A rain shower completes the bathroom, giving it a tranquil experience of truly being in the middle of the wilderness, yet with all the amenities of home, including high-end toiletries.

Each tipi is equipped with Internet access, a wood-burning stove, mini-bar, an overnight emergency kit and coffee/tea maker. Twenty-four-hour room service and a butler are at your fingertips.

Mustang Monument also has its own tipi/bar central to all the tipis. The bar offers any drink you could imagine, and is decorated in Western style with saddles as the bar stools.

Mustang Monument plans to serve three Western-style gourmet meals a day, while activities on the range are custom designed to fit specific needs and desires. No children under 12 are allowed unless by special arrangements prior to arrival. In-room spa and beauty treatments are available with two days’ prior notice.

Having spent an afternoon at the resort last September, I was impressed with the thoroughness and good planning already visible. The catered lunch served on the patio and lawn of the main ranch house was Tex-Mex and delicious. Served on garden furniture with pottery dishes, it fit the rugged landscape and outdoors.

It’s pricey, but remember, it is customized for guests, and is as upscale as it can be. A luxury tipi with double occupancy costs $1,200 per room per night, subject to change. Smaller tipis can be reserved for a smaller fee. Prices include all amenities and accommodations, with special rates on holidays. A premier selection of alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages is offered, and special dietary requests are accommodated.

This is an ideal escape from the bustle of city living as well as an exclusive education on the ways of wild mustangs, rural living and the native people who once inhabited the area.

Mustang Monument will arrange transfers for you from Elko Regional Airport and Salt Lake City International Airport. There is also a private airport available with a 55-foot runway in Wells, Nev., for charter service. Make arrangements two days prior to your stay. Pricing varies based on vehicles required and the number of people transferred.

Reservations can be made through a travel agency or directly at the Mustang Monument website: www.mustangmonument.com.