Ely, Nevada

At the eastern end of U.S. Highway 50 in, Nevada is the bustling town of Ely. What started as just a post office and stagecoach station grew rapidly with the discovery of copper in 1906. As the railroad steamed into town, Ely continued to grow, and today the community’s history is documented by a series of giant murals gracing the sides of buildings throughout town. For a closer look at Ely’s history, visitors can also tour the Renaissance Village to see homes and stores adorned as they would have been in the 1900s. Each home is furnished and decorated to represent the ethnicities that made up Ely’s early days, a mix of cultures that included Spanish, Italian, English, French, Slavic, Asian and Greek.

Another way for visitors to see Ely’s heritage is with a visit to the historic Hotel, Nevada and Gambling Hall. Once a popular resting place for the Hollywood crown en route to ski vacations in Sun Valley, Idaho, Hotel, Nevada famously opened its doors to the likes of Wayne Newtown, Gary Copper, Jimmy Stewart and Ann Rutherford. Today, many of these hotel rooms are decorated in honor of these famous guests. And impressive as Hotel, Nevada may be, arguably the most prized attraction in Ely is the Ghost Train, an authentic steam-engine train on the, Nevada Northern Railway. Visitors can trawl the rail yard and even hop aboard for a train ride. Special excursions are hosted regularly, including an exceptional transformation into a Polar Express with a very special red-suited guest. For a deeper look into the town’s rail history, stop by the East Ely Railroad Depot Museum, open weekdays.

The community also hosts interesting and anticipated annual events, including January’s Fire & Ice Show, an amazing mix of fireworks and an ice sculpture competition held at Cave Lake State Park, and the Arts in the Park Festival in August.

Other must-sees in the area are Garnet Hill, an area bursting with beautiful dark red garnets embedded in volcanic rock; the Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park, which hosts beehive-shaped brick ovens built in the 1870s as part of the region’s copper mining efforts and still standing today in near-perfect condition; and the amazingly-preserved McGill Drug Store Museum.

Finally, as one of the towns along “The Loneliest Road in America” (a nickname given Highway 50 by Life Magazine thanks to its long, isolated stretch through, Nevada), Ely offers visitors the chance to participate in a fun little diversion. Travelers heading along the Loneliest Road can download a Highway 50 Survival Guide here and get it stamped in each of the towns along the way to get an “I Survived” certificate signed by the governor.

Explore

Great Basin National Park with fall foliage
Ely, NV

Passing through two ghost towns and five state parks, this was the first route to be named a Nevada Scenic Byway.

Prospector marquee with elk statue
Ely, NV
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The Prospector Hotel Casino in East Ely offers a number of exciting lodging options. In addition to their pet-friendly sanctuary consisting of rooms with special, plush beds and treats for Fido and Fifi, they also have themed rooms including The Asian, The Hunter, The Miner, and The Risque!

Ward Charcoal State Park Ovens with Sign at Entrance
Ely, NV

When silver ore was discovered in the Willow Creek Basin area in the 1870s, the Ward Mining District was developed immediately after. By the mid 1870s, the Martin and White Company from San Francisco invested money to extract silver ore, purchased several small claims, and built smelters [furnaces for melting ores.]

Photo of Historic Hotel Nevada by Lora Robb
Ely, NV
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For many decades following its opening in 1929, the Hotel Nevada was a favorite stop-over for the rich and famous of Hollywood as they traveled between California and Sun Valley, Idaho. A dozen rooms at the hotel reflect the luxury and glamour of this bygone era. Ask to stay in the Gary Cooper or Mickey Rooney room! There are also rooms dedicated to Charlie Rich, Jimmy Stewart, Wayne Newton, Ann Rutherford, and others.

Blue Mass Scenic Area
Ely, NV

The unique area of strangely eroded granitic rock is nestled in the Kern Mountain range near the Nevada/Utah state line.