If the allure of spotting wild horses brings you to the great state of Nevada, you’re in the right place. Nevada is home to nearly half of all wild horses in the United States! These hardy horses live on public land protected by the government, so it’s easy to find them if you know where to look. Before we get into where the best places to see wild horses in Nevada are, let’s dig into the origin story of these awe-inspiring animals.
History of Nevada’s Wild Horses
Nevada’s wild horses and burros are protected species living on U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. They were brought out west during the 1800s gold rush by miners, ranchers, missionaries, and settlers.
The Nevada Wild Horse Range was the first established wild horse area in the U.S. It encompasses over 1.3 million acres of military land where between 300-500 wild horses live and roam. No visitors are allowed, but the history — dating back to 1962 — is important nonetheless.
How Many Wild Horses Are in Nevada?
Nevada ranks number one for the state with the highest population of wild horses. There are currently over 45,000 wild horses and about 4,500 burros living on BLM land in Nevada. This doesn’t even include animals in unprotected areas of the state!
Here’s where the problem lies: The ideal number of wild horses for the land is closer to 13,000. Overpopulation is contributing to habitat loss, water source degradation, and other issues not just for the horses but also for the ecosystem at large.
Controlling the Wild Horse Population in Nevada
The BLM conducts roundups, hosts adoption events, and exercises fertility control to keep population numbers across nearly 15.6 million managed acres down. Since 1971, the BLM has already removed nearly 137,000 wild horses from Nevada and has plans for a catch-treat-hold-and-release gather in 2023. This protects the horses as well as the environment and other wildlife that live there.
Is it Legal to Catch Wild Horses in Nevada?
It’s illegal for anyone other than BLM officials or designated wranglers to touch, let alone catch, wild horses. Routine roundups are used to control population numbers. Otherwise, the wild horses stay wild.
You can visit the planned location for roundups and watch it happen in observation areas though! But that’s not even close to the best place to see the wild horses in Nevada…
10 Best Spots to See the Wild Horses in Nevada
Coming to Nevada to see the wild horses? Here are 10 of the best places to visit to catch a glimpse of the wild horses in their natural habitat.
1. Virginia Range
The wild horses of the Virginia Range in northern Nevada are “wild horse free,” according to the BLM. They don’t live within herd management areas, which means they are completely feral. This is the prime area for viewing the state’s wild horses. The most famous herd in Nevada lives here!
If you have a sense of adventure, a hike on the Truckee Meadows Historic Trail is a good option for spotting the horses. Estimates say nearly 3,000 wild horses live in the Virginia Range, so your chances of seeing one are pretty high (but never guaranteed).
2. New Pass-Ravenswood Herd Management Area
Located 35 miles northwest of Austin, Nevada lies the New Pass-Ravenswood Herd Management Area. Wild horses roam the peaks and valleys, which offers an exciting backdrop to an already epic view. Beyond visiting the area itself, you can also often see the herds as you drive along US Highway 50 going east.
3. Red Rock Herd Management Area
Out in the Mojave desert in Red Rock Herd Management Area lies more of Nevada’s wild horse herds. Less than 30 horses live in this area, but you can spot them easily in the open county during the summer months. However, there are 157,443 acres of ground they can cover so be patient and stay vigilant.
4. Lake Mead
Located within the Muddy Mountains Herd Management Area, Lake Mead is home to some of Nevada’s wild horse population and over 500 burros. The horses here have draft bloodlines, which make them hardy and capable of living off the land. It’s a treat to see them, and you might if you visit the lake in the hot summer months!
5. Antelope Valley
About 50 miles south of Wells in the Great Basin lies Antelope Valley. Wild horses roam this area, so it’s worth a trip to see if you can spot one. Just be sure to keep your distance and don’t feed the horses — they are feral animals that can colic from any new food being introduced into their diet.
6. Mount Charleston
Nearby Mount Charleston is another place with plenty of wild horse sightings. Specifically, the 6.3-mile Bristlecone Loop Trail offers expansive views of the valley and the herds of wild horses. This area could also be worth a visit when you come to Nevada!
7. Wheeler Pass Herd Management Area
Located within the Spring Mountains, the Wheeler Pass Herd Management Area is a popular place to see wild horses in Nevada. Approximately 55 wild horses occupy the land along alongside about 30 wild burros. Cold Creek, a small community near Las Vegas, is a specific spot where you’re likely to see a wild horse. A 4WD vehicle is recommended to access the herds who live here.
8. Pine Nut Mountain Range
Spread across 90,000 acres, wild horses roam the Pine Nut Mountain Range outside of Carson City, NV. This is a common area to see wild horses who have Shetland bloodlines. Don’t be surprised when these animals are shorter than other wild horses around the state.
9. Fish Creek Herd Management Area
Just miles south of Eureka, NV you will find the Fish Creek Herd Management Area. The wild horses that live in this area of Nevada have Quarter Horse bloodlines, but you can also spot Curly Horses that live here. This unique breed was brought to Eureka by Tom Dixon in the late 1800s and is still seen in the wild today.
10. Palomino Valley Wild Horse and Burro Center
One place you’re guaranteed to see a wild horse in Nevada is at the largest BLM preparation and adaption facility in the U.S. The Palomino Valley Wild Horse and Burro Center is open to the public 6 days a week for viewing or adopting the wild horses captured during roundups.
Summary of the Best Places to See the Wild Horses in Nevada
Wild horses are well-known and loved by both locals and visitors of Nevada. If you ever have a chance to take a trip to the state to see the wild horses, here’s a recap of the 10 places you should go.
|New Pass-Ravenswood Herd Management Area
|Red Rock Herd Management Area
|Wheeler Pass Herd Management Area
|Pine Nut Mountain Range
|Fish Creek Herd Management Area
|Palomino Valley Wild Horse and Burro Center
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Jeanne Hatch/iStock via Getty Images
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