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Lifelong animal lover and philanthropist Madeleine Pickens has created a paradise for some 750 wild horses in northeastern Nevada. Known as Mustang Monument, Pickens’ 900-square-mile resort — nearly the size of Rhode Island — gives guests a chance to spend time with these beautiful animals and also experience a bit of the Wild West, where just 100 years ago some two million wild mustangs roamed free. Mustang Monument, opened in 2014, truly functions as an animal sanctuary fueled by Pickens’ vision, passion and commitment to animal welfare.
Pickens first felt compelled to take action when she saw videos and photos of stranded cats and dogs on the rooftops of New Orleans’ homes during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Incredibly, she was able to arrange for many of the animals to be airlifted and found homes for them throughout the West. Soon thereafter, she worked to rescue 1,000 wild horses destined for slaughter, create the Saving America’s Mustangs foundation and even testify before Congress. (A debate rages on as the number of wild horses grazing on public lands designated for cattle is more than the government can manage.)
While Pickens’ efforts are ongoing, one thing is for sure: Guests who spend time with wild horses at Mustang Monument come away with a powerful experience. Learning about and caring for the animals can bring and shape change. From horseback riding and feeding the horses hay grown onsite to hiking and archery, families come away with an immersive ranch experience combined with luxury accommodations and farm-to-table meals.
A: Mustang Monument is an opportunity for families to come and stay and learn about the history of the West, including cowboys, Indians and horses. It’s important for us to share it so our children don’t lose this rich heritage. We welcome families and kids of all ages. We recommend kids be at least 6 for some of the more adventurous activities, though each family differs on what they can handle, so we are flexible as long as everyone stays safe.
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A: We have 10 cottages and 10 custom-made tipis, all of which are double occupancy, but we can add rollaway beds to any room as well. There are also dining tipis; a tipi we used for spa treatments like massages and facials; and then a play area with kids’ tipis. Each tipi has its own dedicated bathroom and they are just as luxurious as the bathrooms that we have in the private cottage rooms. All of our cottages and tipis have air conditioning and heat to make for a comfortable stay throughout the day and night. The decor is a luxury take on the old Western style and we highlight this by using authentic barn wood throughout the premises.
A: Because we are in the high desert of northeastern Nevada, we don’t get the uncomfortable weather that Las Vegas and Reno get. We are more reminiscent of Park City, Deer Valley, Salt Lake City and Montana. July is a high of 85 with a low of 49, and our Base Camp is at 5,800 feet, so we have more dry mountain weather.
A: The horses are incredibly kind and gentle. They are vegetarian and not predatory in any way. It is truly spiritual being around them, especially when you’re surrounded by 750 wild mustangs during feeding time in the morning. Guests can wake up and start with a light breakfast, then head out on the wagon for a 2-hour activity of feeding the wild mustangs. This activity is one of the most popular and meaningful we have because you’re directly engaging with [the horses], which directly benefits them to continue to survive. Then in the afternoon, guests can ride a different group of our highly trained mustangs who are just as kind and endearing.
A: We have a wonderful James Beard Award-winning chef who is committed to fresh, organic vegetables and fruits. We even offer cooking classes from pizza making to mastering the barbecue.
A: It’s all part of the foundation to maintain this eco-resort. We are a sustainable location that grows our own hay, which we feed to the horses, and [we grow] fruits and vegetables too. When I first started in this venture I had saved a thousand mustangs and then thought, well, now I need a way to have people come see these amazing creatures and make it a self sustaining endeavor. I created Mustang Monument Eco-Resort as a place to stay and see these beautiful animals in their natural habitat. I realized tourism is how I could … get the story out, by sharing it with guests who will then spread the word of the American West’s history and the mustangs that helped form it.
Editor’s Note: Photos courtesy of Mustang Monument and Saving America’s Mustangs.
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