In a region famous for wagon trains and cattle drives, you’ll have a much easier time that trailblazing settlers did on this 13-mile route.
Follow SR 227 southeast from Elko toward Lamoille. Before Lamoille, turn right on Lamoille Canyon Road. This is the state byway, which proceeds southeast into the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and ends at aptly named Road’s End Picnic Area near the Ruby Mountain Scenic Area. The route makes its way through Lamoille Canyon, formed by glaciers, and heads toward the base of the 11,249-foot Ruby Dome. The Ruby Mountains are Nevada’s wettest, providing a verdant and lush landscape, a refreshing contrast to the surrounding area’s desert ecosystem. The Ruby Crest Trail, a 40-mile route across the Ruby Mountain Ridge, is known worldwide, and Lamoille Canyon hosts the northern trailhead. The trail ends at Harrison Pass. Looking spots along the Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway offer spectacular views of the canyon’s seasonal foliage and waterfalls. Interpretive signs explain how hot the valley was formed.
For camping, the Thomas Canyon Campground on the south end of the byway offers 40 sites in a wide-open area with Lamoille Creek running through and aspen and cottonwood trees surrounding it. Natural terraces abound at the campground, offering perfect picnicking spots. Along the byway, you’ll find a developed, self-guided car tour with interpretive signs describing the geology of the canyon. At the culmination of the paved road, the parking lot sits at 8,800 feet, and trailheads begin for short and long hikes. This area offers more than 100 miles of hiking trails. Island Lake is an easy two-mile hike, and numerous alpine lakes can be found in the area.
Although Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway closes for driving in the winter, the canyon is alive with snowmobiles and cross-country skiers who access the area from the parking lot at the entrance.