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Get away to Elko’s Ruby Mountains for hiking, wildlife viewing and more


By Chris Moran

On the eastern end of Nevada stands the Ruby Mountain range, a collection of peaks over 10,000 feet, crowned with dozens of alpine lakes. The Rubies, part of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, are definitely worth a look, and a good base to explore from is Elko, 289 miles east of Reno on Interstate 80.

Where to start?

“Lamoille Canyon is the entry point for the Ruby Mountain Range,” Katie Neddenriep, executive director for the Elko Convention & Visitors Authority, said. “Especially if you’re looking for day hikes.”

The Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway is a 12-mile long (one way) road climbing 8,800 feet through a verdant canyon. There are pull-outs along the road with trailheads, leading to hikes of various levels of difficulty. The Rubies also provide excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing — keep an eye out for bighorn sheep, deer and mountain goats — as well as fishing, especially in Lamoille Creek and Angel Lake.

From Elko proper, it’s about 20 miles to Lamoille Canyon Byway.

The Ruby 360 Lodge.
The Ruby 360 Lodge.

Those who want to stay a little closer to the mountains might want to consider Ruby 360 Lodge, a group rental property that recently opened to individual overnights with activity packages. Located in the community of Lamoille, Ruby 360 Lodge offers single and three-day all-inclusive packages that include such activities as boating, mountain biking or fly fishing. The Lodge also rents out two yurts: Conrad Creek Yurt and Ruby High Yurt, accessible via a 3- to 5-hour hike with 3,000-foot elevation gain.

Of course, Elko also offers a variety of lodging, as well as local attractions and events that have amended policies to follow Gov. Steve Sisolak’s directives to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. The Silver State Stampede, an annual event on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit, runs July 10-12 and the Ruby Mountain Balloon Festival is scheduled for July 23-25.

Backpacking in the Ruby Mountains
Backpacking in the Ruby Mountains. Image: Sydney Martinez/Travel Nevada

Throughout the year, visitors can check out the Cowboy Arts and Gear Museum, dedicated to the preservation of the vaquero and American Buckaroo culture; and the Northeastern Nevada Museum, featuring local history exhibits, art galleries and one of the largest collection of works by Western artist Will James. Be sure to check out J.M. Capriola, a Western wear store where saddles still are made by hand on the shop’s second floor.

For more Elko activities, including scenic drive routes and information on regional ghost towns, visit ExploreElko.com.  


Chris Moran is a public relations specialist at the Nevada Division of Tourism (Travel Nevada) and has lived in Reno since 1996. She is a former editor and writer at the Reno Gazette-Journal, and has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley. Her hobbies include skiing, hiking, reading, photography, coffee and coffeehouses, and exploring Nevada. Check out her blog at www.ChrisinNevada.wordpress.com.

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