Cowboy Country Nevada

Cowboy life in Nevada is about men and women who ride horses and rope cows. They wear boots and hats because they’re useful to their work, not to make a statement – although they could tell the difference between round-toe and square-toe boots, and the real definition of a “buckaroo.” Horses are modes of transportation and members of the family. They take great pride in the ropin’ and ridin’ skills, and aren’t afraid to grab a guitar and pick a melody.


This is the lifestyle that created the art form known as cowboy poetry, and it’s what’s celebrated every January in Elko during the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. These poets can spin a yarn that will make your sides ache from laughter and your eyes shed tears you didn’t know you had.


Rodeos are a big part of the cowboy culture, and Nevada does them right. The Reno Rodeo is known as the wildest, richest rodeo in the West, and the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas is where the best of the best show their stuff in the arena. The Winnemucca Ranch Hand Rodeo is about as authentic as it gets, with working cowboys and cowgirls putting their daily chores on display in a test of skill.


Saddle up for this list of things to do and events to attend


Wrangler National Finals Rodeo

Each December for ten days the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo runs at the Thomas Mack Center in Las Vegas which is located at the University of Nevada. Each of the ten days you will see the top 15 money winners in each of the seven different events that they compete in: bull riding, bareback riding, calf roping, saddle bronc riding, team roping, steer wrestling, and barrel racing. The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is the largest prize money rodeo in the world. Last year it paid out more than $5.5 million to contestants and is also considered the most prestigious rodeo, deciding which cowboys will get to wear the gold buckle as world champion each year!

Event this year: Dec 7 – 16, 2017


Visit Elko to connect with the American West

Constantly ranked as one of the Best True Western Towns in the United States, Elko is complete with true cowboy charm.


This town is where Nevada’s real cowboys work and play, and the Wild West spirit is catching.....even the folks at True West have taken notice of Elko's authentic western heritage, and ranked the town as one of the Top True Western Towns.  Cowboys from across the nation flock to Elko every January for the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, a celebration of the cowboy lifestyle and the rural West. But the events in Elko go beyond its Western roots. Every July is the annual National Basque Festival, a nod to the rich Basque history and culture both in, Nevada and across the country. The festival is a raucous family event with traditional food and wine, dancing and even a ceremonial running of the bulls. And for Basque food anytime, Elko’s authentic Basque restaurants always hit the spot. Other much-anticipated events in Elko include the Silver State Stampede, Motorcycle Jamboree and the County Fair.


Today, visitors to Elko can explore Nevada’s roots in mining, ranching and native culture with a stop at the Northeastern, Nevada Museum, the Western Folk-life Center or the Sherman Station Visitor’s Center. And for a real treat, check out Capriola’s. It’s one the most famous saddle-making companies in the world and visitors can browse the array of rich leather goods and even watch saddle-makers at work.


The Western Folk-life Center: Located in the century-old Pioneer Hotel, the center is best known as ‘home-base’ for the annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering held each January, but also shines as an exemplary display of contemporary cowboy craftsmanship, ranch life and American Indian art. The Weigand Gallery at the center features western-themed exhibits, as well as a 20-seat black-box theater where visitors can watch a 16-minute video about why cowboys sing.


Northeastern Nevada Museum: Peruse the illustrations and writings of Western artist Will James, author of the Newbery Medal-winning children’s book “Smoky, The Cow Horse.” James, who lived in the American West in the early part of the 20th century, had a colorful life that included a stint in the Nevada State Prison for cattle rustling.


Luciano’s Bar & Restaurant: Exploring Cowboy Country can work up a painful hunger, and there’s no better place than Luciano's to cater to some hearty, culinary desires. Enjoy a variety of mouthwatering pastas, seafood, steaks and of course a full bar at Luciano's, all in the heart of downtown of Elko. One thing is for sure, if you’re craving a mighty fine steak in the city of Elko, you’ve certainly come to the right place. While a juicy filet is not hard to find around these parts, you might want to mix it up a bit and opt for a more exotic cuisine. With a place as good as Luciano’s Italian Bar & Restaurant, you won’t regret this decision any day of the week.


While you can certainly get your hands on some of the best pasta you’ve ever divulged in, Luciano’s also offers crispy green salads, savory homemade soups, an impressive variety of seafood like Ahi Tuna, King Salmon and Lobster Tail, and of course lamb chops and delicious steaks.  And don't forget to polish off an unforgettable dining experience with a big fat slice of homemade tiramisu or gelato!


After a snowy day on the range or in the Rubies, nothing tastes better than a comforting and hearty Italian meal. In the summer months, homemade bruschetta and a crisp white wine can’t be matched. Regardless the season or the occasion, visitors to Elko need to make sure a trip to Luciano’s is on the list.


California trail interpretive center: Eight miles west of Elko, the center tells the story of America’s Westward expansion in the mid-19th century. Around 225,000 emigrants traveled the California Trail, which roughly follows today’s Interstate 80, between 1841 and 1869; their stories are told here through interactive exhibits.


The Star Hotel: Sample Nevada’s Basque food at this historical restaurant. Opened in 1910, the Star specializes in hearty fare served family-style in large portions — the hallmark of Basque cuisine in the American West. The tradition dates back to the 19th century, when immigrants from the Basque Country — a region straddling France and Spain — came to the United States, often working as sheepherders. Hotels catering to those immigrants began to spring up, with dining rooms serving the substantial Basque meals that still can be enjoyed today.  


J.M. Capriola Co.: See how saddles are made at this longstanding western wear store. In business since 1929, Capriola sells boots, hats and other items essential to a cowboy. The retail section is on the first floor, but visitors can go upstairs to see where saddles are made and other leather work is done.


A visiting cowboy or cowgirl can find an endless variety of gear and accessories to fit right in on the range. Silver and turquoise – mined right here in Nevada – are staples in every boutique and gift shop. If you feel inclined to really step back in time, there’s no place like Virginia City. The main street is lined with wooden sidewalks, saloons, and gambling halls. Take a teeth-rattling ride in a stagecoach or climb aboard a vintage steam train. Capture the moment in sepia with your loved ones dressed up as gamblers, cowboys, saloon girls, or miners. On a warm summer day, you may just witness a bank robbery and ensuing shoot-out, but don’t worry, the sheriff always wins!


Go ahead and dust off your cowboy hat, and pull on your favorite pair of Levi’s. Life is about comfort here, and you’ll fit right in.

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