Winnemucca, NV

Buckaroo Capital of the World

Natural wonders, Old West charm, and friendly locals await all who come to the quaint city of Winnemucca. The city's fewer than 7,000 residents live in a high desert valley nestled in among a variety of expansive mountain ranges, including the Black Forest and Pine Forest ranges, and the sprawling sage prairies of northwestern Nevada.

Here, cowboys - and not the drugstore variety - really do exist in the "Buckaroo Capital of the World". Running alongside Winnemucca and serving as a reminder of the area's rich history is the Humboldt River. This river cuts through the rugged mountain ranges and continues to carve a route for travelers even today, as both the railroad and Interstate 80 follow its winding course. Each year hundreds of thousands of visitors follow the interstate to Winnemucca, an oasis in the middle of northern Nevada's desert highlands.

In the heart of cowboy country, newcomers will find buckaroos everywhere they turn. Rodeos, roping competitions, and roundups are all part of everyday life in Winnemucca. Even the Old West architecture is reminiscent of a simpler time. For example, George Nixon's First National Bank (once robbed by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) still stands. Celebrate a traditional Basque dinner, a hickory pit smoked barbecue, or any of the other entertaining dining options Winnemucca offers.

Each day Winnemucca residents can look to the south of town and see what the first settlers saw: the majestic Sonoma Mountain Range. Other natural attractions include the eerie Black Rock Desert and the Santa Rosa Mountain Range. Winnemucca locals love to explore the area's natural beauty, and camping, hiking, fishing, and four-wheeling are all favorite pastimes. While Winnemucca is far from being a large city, and even though most who settle here are intent on "getting away from it all", larger-scale amenities are not so far away. The cultural, recreational, and educational opportunities of the Reno area are only 160 miles from town.

Winnemucca, NV At-A-Glance

Population: 7,400

Avg. July high: 92

Avg. January low: 17

Avg. Annual Precipitation: 8

Avg. Annual Snowfall: 24

Closest Big City: 167 miles to Reno

Health Care: 1 hospital with 52 beds

Cost of Living: 5-10% below the national average

Housing Costs: 149,000


The moderate climate in Winnemucca is an open invitation to enjoy the great outdoors. Sunshine and perpetually blue skies keep locals outdoors all year long. This semi-arid desert town experiences little rain, with approximately eight inches falling each year. During summer afternoons the temperature can reach into the 90s, but the dry desert air makes the temperatures feel considerably cooler. Just make sure to wear sunglasses and sunscreen. Because temperatures fluctuate dramatically between day and night, locals are always prepared with light jackets, even in the summer. In the Santa Rosa Mountain Range, there are many hiking and biking trails to explore. The glorious weather helps to create a perfect environment just about every single day.

In the winter, there are usually about five snowfalls a year, totaling 22 inches of accumulation annually. The light, powdery snowfall provides locals with the feeling of a traditional holiday season without ever having to endure severe snowstorms or long-lasting accumulations. The snow melts in a day or two, and local travel is rarely inconvenienced.

Art & Culture

George Nixon's First National Bank, once robbed by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, still stands, adding to the town's ambiance with its distinctive architecture and historic, Old West flair.

It is not surprising to find that, as the "Buckaroo Capital of the World", Winnemucca houses the Buckaroo Hall of Fame & Western Heritage Museum. This historical treasure trove preserves the heritage of Winnemucca's first cowboys. See their old-fashioned gear firsthand and learn more about the buckaroos who have earned a place in the Buckaroo Hall of Fame.

Visit the various historical homes and buildings of Winnemucca on a quiet afternoon. Many of these landmarks can easily be seen while on a relaxing stroll through town. George Nixon's First National Bank looks a bit different today than it did when Butch Cassidy saw it years ago, but it still possesses the frontier spirit. The Cumley/Richardson House was built in 1899 and is another excellent example of Victorian architecture.

For an artistic experience and to check out some excellent, local art, visit the Winnemucca Fine Art Gallery. The ever-changing collection of photographs, paintings, and handmade items always offers something new. Winnemucca also facilitates a wide variety of festivals and annual events, which celebrate its history and present-day glory. As a tribute to the Basque sheepherders that settled in the region, Winnemucca holds a yearly Basque Festival. This celebration offers a parade, games, dances, and traditional food.

Rodeos are the most popular summertime excursions for locals. Championships, roping competitions, and roundups are regular events, and the entire town gets involved somehow. Whether a spectator or a competitor, the events and festivals in town are great fun for the whole family.

City Recreation

Winnemucca lies in Humboldt County's more than 9,700 square miles of mountain and high desert terrain. More than 80% of the county is actually administered by the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service.

Opportunities for outdoor exploration abound. Residents can find everything from large campgrounds for family gatherings to remote niches for those who just want to get away for a weekend escape into a breathtaking, pristine environment. The Santa Rosa Range is a popular destination partially because it is the home to Lye Creek, Dutch John Creek, and the Lower Indian Creek campgrounds.

Both fly and bait fishers find Winnemucca to be one of Nevada's fishing meccas. Seasonal fishing opportunities include rainbow trout, brook, and German brown in the Humboldt and Little Humboldt rivers. Other great fishing locales include Blue Lake and the Chimney Creek Reservoir. Between Paradise Valley and Orovada in the Santa Rosas, there are numerous hiking and biking trails. From June to October the trails are in excellent condition, welcoming everyone from hardy mountain bikers to those interested in a quiet nature walk. Hunters also find plenty to do in these protected areas. Well-established upland game bird populations and plenty of migratory birds and waterfowl provide the good marksman with plenty of meat for the winter.

Closer to town, there are also various parks available. Spend a leisurely day at one of the city's nearly a half-dozen parks. Take in a game of softball, Little League, or soccer at the Winnemucca Sports Complex, a great place for the community to gather and cheer for the home teams. Swimming pools and a nine-hole golf course are also available for active locals.

At the Winnemucca Event Center, the county's largest and most well-equipped fairgrounds complex, residents will find a year-round range of indoor recreational activities. Rodeos and livestock-related events are popular, of course, but there are also plenty of motor sports competitions, sporting events, as well as dances and community-oriented events.

Last but not least are the casinos. Gambling is legal in Nevada, and the hotel casinos that cater to tourists passing through Winnemucca also give locals a thrill on occasion.


Winnemucca is surrounded by spectacular camping spots. In the Santa Rosa Range and Humboldt National Forest, residents can land rainbow and brook trout.

Winnemucca students benefit from a well-rounded curriculum, dedicated teachers, and a half-dozen, well-equipped schools. Winnemucca is a member of the Humboldt County School District, which maintains more than a half-dozen additional elementary, junior high, and high schools. Students are taught a comprehensive program, and the district believes in preparing students fully for the challenges ahead in life. On the ACT, for instance, students in the district garner higher scores than the national average, demonstrating that hard work and quality programs really do pay off.

For post-secondary education, students may take courses from Great Basin College (GBC), a two-year community college at Winnemucca's off-campus site. With the main campus located about 120 miles to the east in Elko, GBC is well aware that many students are unable to make the long commute. As a result, GBC has developed off-campus programs in 15 towns. Winnemucca benefits from this goodwill, and students take full advantage of their good fortune. Schedules are coordinated to each student's needs, and workloads can be as flexible as needed. Another option is the University of Nevada's campus at Reno.

Housing & Cost of Living

Money magazine has named Winnemucca as one of the small town in America for great jobs. Gold mining employs a quarter of residents.

Considering its distance from larger commercial and manufacturing centers, Winnemucca's cost of living is surprisingly reasonable. Even with the increased transportation costs, the overall cost of living is 5- 10% below the national average. Winnemucca's residents are happy knowing their town offers benefits that are simply unavailable in a big city. Child care costs here are as reasonable as other costs, although prices vary fairly widely depending on amenities offered. Parents will likely pay a yearly fee of around $5,500 for preschoolers and a bit more than $7,000 for infants at an accredited center.

In Winnemucca, newcomers will find a wide range of housing prices, anywhere from $70,000 to $300,000. The average home price is about $171,000, tens of thousands below the national average. Homes in outlying areas of town commonly come with several acres of land, meaning that the dream of a ranch home in the West is still a reality in Winnemucca. For the one-quarter of residents who rent, monthly payments are just $500.

Crime & Safety

One of the primary goals of Winnemucca is to preserve its hometown appeal. Its citizens feel comfortable and safe on the streets, in their homes, and wherever in the outdoors they choose to enjoy recreational pursuits. To keep this sense of community and order, both the Winnemucca Police Department and the Humboldt County Sheriff 's Department maintain various programs to keep in touch with local neighborhoods and to offer even more effective policing.

Subsequently, Winnemucca's overall crime rate has fallen significantly in recent years and is currently well below the national average. Even more impressive is the amazingly low violent crime rate. Murders and reported rapes are very rare in this quiet, Western town.

Earning a Living

Thousands of rubber ducks are thrown into the Humboldt River and float to the finish line at this town's Great Winneducka Duck Race...

Money magazine named Winnemucca as a top small town in America for great jobs. This is quite an impressive accomplishment on its own and even more notable when considering both the town's remote location and the area's ranching heritage.

The main industries in the area are mining, agriculture and agricultural services, construction, and tourism. Gold mining is still a successful industry in Humboldt County, alone employing more than a quarter of the labor force. Agriculture is also very important to this area, with its vast tracts of cattle ranch land and more than 100,000 acres under cultivation. This is the home of the largest potato field in the country. It is also home to the world's largest potato dehydration plant.

Each year, competitors from across the nation make the trek to Winnemucca to participate in the town's rodeos and championships. These events also bring in tourists who are interested in seeing some good old-fashioned buckaroos. Such crowds lend to Winnemucca's thriving tourist industry, which also benefits from beautiful scenery, casinos, and an allaround hometown appeal.

The average weekly wage in Winnemucca consistently rates above the national average. Combine this with a consistently low unemployment rate, and this town's prospects look very bright well into the future.

Health Care

Humboldt General Hospital is Winnemucca's main health care facility. Winnemucca residents find that Humboldt General's extensive range of services meets most of their medical needs. Services offered include physical therapy, radiology, intensive care, inpatient surgery, and 24-hour emergency care. Many outpatient programs, such as alcohol and drug abuse recovery, are available as well. Humbolt General's mission is to provide residents with the best and widest ranging care as possible and psychiatric counseling, nutritional assistance, and dental care can also be found in Humboldt General.

Senior citizens have access to nursing services at Beehive Homes Of Winnemucca and Harmony Manor Senior Facilities.