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What goes better with an old gold mining town than a herd of friendly wild burros? The unofficial welcoming committee and purveyors of Beatty culture, your trip to the historic Bullfrog Mining District is incomplete without crossing paths with at least one of the dozens of wild donkeys—or in Nevada, we like to call them burros—roaming the streets in and around downtown Beatty. 

An emblem of the Old West and the Silver State’s rich mining history, there’s no better way to get to know Beatty, Rhyolite Ghost Town, and the gateway to Death Valley National Park than a welcoming committee that’s been part of it all since the very beginning.

As mineral discoveries were being made in all corners of Nevada, these trusted companions were brought to the Silver State by 19th century prospectors to help with carrying loads of ore, riding, underground mining, and other reliable support for mining endeavors. Originally from Mexico, the wild burro made for such trusted companions because they were not only already acclimated to hot, dry climates found in and around the Beatty region, but also because of their impeccable work ethic, hauling everything from gold rich ore, to water and other supplies for quickly developing mining camps, and more. Once Beatty and the Bullfrog Mining District boom days were over, many burros were out of a job and set free into the Nevada desert.

Travel Nevada Pro Tip

Feeding the burros or wildlife of any kind is not only extremely uncool, it’s also illegal. Human food is not healthy for wild animals, and they do not need food from humans to survive. Wild animals have specialized diets, and they can become malnourished or die if fed or become dependent on human food. The good news in Beatty is this: the burros are so used to people in the area they will naturally approach you for a good ol’ head scratch (and selfie!), even without the allure of snacks.

While you can see many other burro bands roaming around Nevada’s Great Basin Desert (looking at you Marietta and Hickison Burro Herds), the most reliably spottable crew is the Beatty Burros, who are almost always seen throughout the downtown. Wild burros were recently removed from Death Valley National Park (officials made the call they were not endemic creatures and are no longer allowed in national park boundaries), so populations in and around Beatty have rapidly increased, meaning your chances of spotting one is higher than ever. Officials estimate there are more than 800 wild burros in the Beatty area, staying in and around town thanks to its close proximity to the headwaters of the Amargosa River—or their main drinking water source in an otherwise very arid Mojave Desert. Spot these friendly creatures (and keep your camera handy!) at Rhyolite Ghost Town, Happy Burro Chili & Beer, at the gas stations, outside your hotel, and roaming around just about every other street in between.

This Location:

Central, Nevada