West Wendover, Nevada
West Wendover is located on Interstate Highway 80 just across the border of Utah. The town of Wendover is within the Utah boundaries, while West Wendover is in Nevada. Most of the locals just refer to either of these metropolitan areas as Wendover, no matter which side of the state line they are standing on.
Wendover is a convenient stopover between Salt Lake City and Reno when traveling on I-80. This city is next to the Bonneville Salt Flats, so it attracts many fans that attend the World Of Speed event that takes place during the summer months. Bonneville Salt Flats is where all land speed records are set on a measured mile race strip. When the racing takes place at the Bonneville Salt Flats next door, Wendover is definitely the place to meet the drivers and crews that make the World Of Speed event happen!
I first visited Wendover while working at a ski lodge in Salt Lake City. Salt Lake City is a nice place to be, but the night life options are limited and gambling of any kind is taboo. After asking some co-workers about places to go in the area, they suggested that I check out Wendover, because they knew that I was from Las Vegas. Wendover is the closest destination to Salt Lake City that has full scale casino resort operations.
It is kind of funny, but on an average Friday night, the westbound traffic on Interstate 80 looks like a mass evacuation from Salt Lake City! Thousands of cars loaded with thrill seekers head to Wendover for the weekend and there are practically no cars traveling in the opposite direction. Wendover, Nevada, certainly has carved a place in modern Salt Lake City culture.
My first impression of Wendover was like a a sigh of relief! It was like stepping back in time to the golden age of Las Vegas. The prices were much lower than modern Vegas, the parking was free and the dining options were straight out of the good old days. Wendover offers an old fashioned level of comfort that has been cast aside by the modern corporate casino resorts in Las Vegas. The wild west theme also can also still be found in Wendover casinos.
After returning the next day to the ski resort job in Salt Lake City, I mentioned that I drove to Wendover and had a good time. One of the co-workers referred to this destination as “Bendover” because of the reputation that the casinos have for fleecing local gamblers. I just had to laugh, because I won more than enough money in Wendover to cover the cost of the entire trip! In fact, during the next few trips to Wendover while working in Salt Lake City, I never came back a loser. All I can say is that the slot machines and poker machines in Wendover seem to have a customer friendly payout schedule, when compared to Las Vegas.
The casino resorts in Wendover are all lined up on one section of road that can be likened to the Las Vegas Strip back in good old days. There is plenty of room to breathe and the pace is unhurried. The casino resorts offer all amenities and the entertainment venue caters to the taste of the locals. Top forty hits of the past and country western music play in the background. There was no gangster hip-hop or electro club music nightclub scene, which is okay in this conservative part of west. Wendover also hosts a major concert hall that books top performers each week.
Honestly, gambling was not the primary reason that I visited Wendover. I personally like casually dining at a good buffet and there are no good buffet dining options in Salt Lake City. The buffet food offerings at the Wendover casinos was like stepping back in time when Las Vegas was a bit more customer friendly. The prices were reasonable and old fashioned buffet favorites like prime rib and crab legs were on the menu even during lunch hours. There are plenty of fine dining options in Wendover and classic western steakhouse restaurants too.
Most of my dining ventures were at the Peppermill Casino and the Montego Bay Resort. The company that operates these two casinos has a Peppermill Restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip that is famous for great food and a lavish atmosphere. Lavish luxurious relaxed comfort is a good way to describe the Peppermill Casino Resort experience in Wendover. The Peppermill Casino is the place to dawn some fine threads and be treated like a VIP!
The Red Garter Casino, Wendover Nugget and the Rainbow Casino offer a little bit more down to earth atmosphere. The restaurants in these three casinos also offer great food and good dining value. I really had a good time chatting with the locals while playing blackjack at the Rainbow and they filled me in on upcoming local events.
West Wendover has come a long way since gaming was introduced in the 1930’s. West Wendover was basically an old rancher and mining community till the State Line Casino was built. The State Line Casino is long gone, but the big towering Wendover Will neon sign from this casino remains as a landmark attraction. When visiting West Wendover, one must simply stop and take a picture of the gigantic neon cowboy that lights up the sky!
West Wendover is not just a gambling destination that lies just across the border of Utah. This city is now a great resort destination in its own right and it is the base camp for adventures in the Bonneville Salt Flats. As far as a weekend escape from Salt Lake City is concerned, the big Wendover Will neon sign is a welcome sight to see!