Madeleine Pickens
Michael Partenio
I grew up in New Orleans, where cowboy boots and hats were costumes for Mardi Gras and Halloween. I remember the white fringe skirt and boots I got for Christmas when I was 8. Wanting to be a cowgirl, I would practice lassoing various objects. (An animal lover and rescuer myself, I never tried to lasso the dog.)

Mustang Monument is how I imagined the West to be: big and wide with mountains and grassland. It’s not like Dallas/Fort Worth, where I currently live. It’s also not like Phoenix; Denver; Santa Fe, N.M.; or any Western town I’ve visited. In fact, if Fort Worth’s motto is “where the West begins,” northeast Nevada’s should be “you’re smack dab in the middle.” Here, I get to wear my turquoise cowboy boots and straw cowboy hat for function; I get to be a cowgirl. Pickens knows the spirit this place elicits in its guests. “I didn’t start this for tourism,” she says, “but why not share it?”

Indeed, Mustang Monument will be open to the public June through September. Beyond vacationing, one-day trips are available too. Your adventure is limited only by your mind’s imagination. And keeping in step with the resort’s surroundings, guests sleep in tepees perched in scenic vistas at the foothills of the Goshute Mountains, much like Native Americans did in the 1800s. Except these are luxury tepees, each painted in a different motif and outfitted with king-size beds, lush linens, hardwood floors with wool rugs, dressers and more beautiful antiques and Western decor from a variety of high-end vendors and retailers. Each tepee has its own adjacent bathroom with a toilet and a shower. In and around your accommodations, you can relax while watching wildlife, play horseshoes or bocce ball, practice archery or even swing in a hammock.


To learn more about Madeleine
Pickens and her horses, visit
www.mustangmonument.com

There are also organized activities, like wagon rides and cooking lessons. And though most people — myself included — might imagine beans heated over a fire and coffee you have to chew when thinking of cuisine of the Wild West, Mustang Monument takes cowboy chow to a whole new level. The five-star menu includes delicacies like smoked rainbow trout, black pepper duck confit and seared scallops. Guests eat in the dining-room tepee, which is charmingly decorated with sunflowers, American flags and tabletop lanterns that give the canvas walls a soft glow. Following dinner, guests can relax in the game-room tepee, which has card tables and a bar.

Of course, 19th-century settlers didn’t have it this good, and the resort’s historians will be all too happy to educate you on what life was like for those pioneers. Landscape architects and environmental scientists are also on hand to teach you about your surroundings, while astronomers will help you navigate the night sky. By the end of your stay, you’d be well versed enough to lead a cattle drive across the desert on your own. That is, if your digs weren’t so temptingly comfortable.