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Wild Thing

A San Diego equestrian unveils her luxury eco-resort and homage to wild horses in Nevada.

A hand-painted dinner tipi where Western fare is served. Rates start at $800 per night.

The tipis are hand-painted and appointed in Ralph Lauren decor with claw-foot bathtubs. The historic horse and buggies have been meticulously restored by Mennonites. Across 900 ruggedly beautiful square miles in Nevada, Madeleine Pickens has been working for the last decade on something monumental. Literally.

Her Mustang Monument is finally set to open this month, both as an eco-resort and a federal safe haven to thousands of wild mustangs. Here, guests can gallop into the protected heartland before settling into a moccasin-making class and a lavish tented dinner with local entertainment. “This is such an important project because we are trying to create a safari-like experience. Instead of going to Africa and traveling for 24 hours, you’re in America on a Western safari,” says Pickens, owner of the Del Mar Country Club and passionate animal activist. “It will be for the horses forever.”

is how the West is won. And it’s especially fitting for Pickens, a European émigré who was enchanted early on by Native Americans. “When I came to the States, I couldn’t find any of that culture. It was disappointing. This is an opportunity to save it,” says Pickens, whose personal style is head-to-toe Western chic. “Dressing up is part of the spirit here.”

The resort, which is open from June 1-Sept. 1, features 10 overnight tipi accommodations, a historic barn (attention, brides!), and a curated boutique stocked with artisan boots and jewelry.

Come evening, with stars blanketing the sky, there’s live entertainment with dancing and drumming from members of the local Shoshone Indian tribe. Says Pickens: “Dinner takes a long time because we have long days and lots of stories to tell.”

Talk about the American dream.