Camel Races, Chicken-Chasing, and the Old West

We spent the last day of our amazing trip in Virginia City, Nevada.  Virginia City is a great, wonderful Old West town about a half hour from Reno and nestled into the face of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  It got on the map as a mining town, and in fact is one of the most famous in the Old West for it’s silver strike in 1859.

Today, Virginia City has preserved it’s culture perfectly, and lives to show visitors all of its history through trolley rides, train trips, and a Visitors Center that’s so full of characater and information, you could learn all you need to know about Virginia City in one stop.  But the fun is in the experiencing, and experience we did!

51st Annual Virginia City International Camel Races

Yes, CAMEL RACES.  As in – jockeys gear up, jump on camels, and RACE them around a track.  Don’t believe me?  Check these photos out – camels are pretty fast!

The experience as a whole was something else.  We had banjo music and folk songs in between races and even witnessed other races with ostriches, emus, and chickens!  Ok, no one rode the chickens, but it was really cute watching the kids chase them around!

The Red Dog Experience

Naturally, we ate well in Virginia City.  We split a pineapple pizza at the Red Dog Saloon, and it’s everything you want a pizza shop to be.  Old fashioned cream sodas, big tall tables, and friendly pizza people.

We chatted with owner Loren for awhile and he explained the Red Dog’s connection with the history of psychadelic music.  For instance, The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane both played at the Red Dog early, early in their careers.

According to Wikipedia,

In April 1963, Chandler A. Laughlin III established a kind of tribal, family identity among approximately fifty people who attended a traditional, all-night Native American peyote ceremony in a rural setting. This ceremony combined a psychedelic experience with traditional Native American spiritual values; these people went on to sponsor a unique genre of musical expression and performance at the Red Dog Saloon.

Bed and Breakfast

We loved our three hotel nights at the Atlantis, but were thrilled to see this is where we’d be staying in Virginia City.  Our hosts cooked our lunch here, and then told us we’d have the bed-and-breakfast-esque place to ourselves for the afternoon and night.  See those swings on the porch in the picture below?  We spent quite a bit of time around and after sunset out there, sipping wine and taking in the amazing mountain-side views.

The City Itself

Other than wine-sipping, pizza-eating, and camel-watching, we spent a couple of hours late Friday afternoon wandering down C Street – Virginia City’s Main Street.  We stopped in at a casino, played our hand at Video Poker, and took in some of the history associated around casinos not only in Virginia City, but in Nevada as a whole state.

Virginia City’s shop-lined streets are adorable – there are candy shops, gift shops, family restaurants, casinos, fudge shops, bakeries, and more.

I’d love to have spent more time there, and will have to do that when we get back to the Reno area sometime.

The entire trip was a whirlwind of fun, wonderful people, delicious food, relaxing stays, and much to learn about Reno, Tahoe, Virginia City, balloons, camels, riverwalks, and history.  I can’t wait to get back!

Disclaimer, again: All thoughts, opinions, and photos not directly quoted or explicitly credited are those of my own.  Huge thanks to the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Bureau for the delicious and fun tour of the city.  While they footed the bill for our week there, it’s an honor to share the experience with my readers.


Doniree is based in Portland, Oregon, where she is pretty damn thrilled about the Pacific Northwest's focus on local and seasonal food and great wine. When she's not at home, she's on the hunt for the best brunch, the best happy hour, and the best whiskey bar a city has to offer.

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2 thoughts on “Camel Races, Chicken-Chasing, and the Old West

  1. terra

    Okay – the camel racing looks hilarious. And emus? I think I might have died laughing.

    There's also a Red Dog Saloon in Juneau, Alaska that's quite famous. Wonder if it's related?


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