Experience a Rodeo Cattle Drive in Reno

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Reno Cattle Drive photo credit Louie Basso

Have you ever wanted to fully immerse yourself in the Western lifestyle? I’m not talking about a luxury dude ranch vacation in Montana. I’m talking about a five day, eight hours daily in the saddle, sleep on the ground type of horseback riding vacation in Reno, Nevada. If this authentic cowboy way of life appeals to your inner cowgirl, then you might want to participate in the Reno Rodeo Cattle Drive.

The horseback ride starts out in Doyle, California and ends in Reno, Nevada. I have not yet participated in this cattle drive, so please don’t expect a first-hand review in this blog post. I’m sharing details on how to participate in the Reno Rodeo Cattle Drive in the hopes that you’ll join me out on the trail. This is not a bring your own horse type of ride and you’ll need to leave your pets at home. Instead, be open to an authentic look back at Western life and how cowboys, vaqueros and cowgirls moved cattle from one destination to another. In the few cattle drives that I have experienced, I have learned that it’s not about how fast you can move cattle; it’s more about the journey and living the cowboy way of life.

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Cowgirls rule on the streets of Reno

What to expect on a cattle drive

It appears this cattle drive accepts those with little horseback riding experience to the avid equestrian. The all-volunteer organization supplies the horses and prepares your meals during the entire vacation. You’ll be responsible for your travel apparel and travel gear, so read up on what to expect on a cattle drive and download their helpful what to wear, what to pack for a horseback riding vacation like this.

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Riding to Reno photo credit Kevin Bell

Be honest with your horse experience

In all my years of reviewing dude and guest ranches, I’m always amazed when novice riders consider themselves expert equestrians. On the Reno Rodeo application, the organizers playfully ask you to asses your riding ability. Are you comfortable riding 8 hours in the saddle? Do you know how to change leads and the difference between a cantor, lope and a trot? Do you understand the basic commands of moving a horse forward, stopping a horse and most importantly, are you able to stay in the saddle? They also list the option, “I have never ridden a horse, but am looking forward to a new experience and a great horseback riding vacation.” I love this organization’s enthusiasm to introduce people to the cowboy way of life!

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Back in the saddle

Personally, after getting back in the saddle after two hip replacements, I hope that I’m up to the challenge of five days in the saddle and sleeping on the ground at night after a long day in the saddle. My career as a professional travel writer had me staying at a luxury guest ranch for a cowgirl spring roundup where I was greeted with gourmet cuisine and a massage at the end of the day. The question for me will be how long will I last out on the trail? So what do you think? Are you up for hitting the trail with a good horse and joining in on the festivities at the Reno Rodeo?

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Head em up, move em out. Photo credit Louie Basso

Need to Know:
Download the Reno Rodeo Cattle Drive application online and send in your completed application to the Reno Rodeo Association. The cost for the five day cattle drive is $2,000. There is a $1,000 processing fee if the organization receives a written request for a refund before the deadline. You’ll need to make hotel and airline reservations by early February.

The last day to request a refund is mid-March (less $1,000 processing fee.) Please check the Reno Rodeo Association website for current pricing, as rates and dates change yearly. Please note, I DO NOT have any affiliation with the Reno Rodeo nor the Reno Rodeo Cattle Drive. Please do not ask me to make a reservation on your behalf.

Billed as the wildest, richest rodeo in the west, the Reno Rodeo takes place annually in June. The 10 day event is a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) sanctioned event. In addition to the cattle drive leading up to the start of the event, there are plenty of family-friendly rodeo activities.


Reno Rodeo Cattle Drive
Reno Rodeo Association
P.O. Box 12335
Reno, Nevada 89510

Photos provided.

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