Whether you need a place to stop on your way in or out of Nevada, are craving some civilization before a backcountry adventure, or are simply hungry for some good grub with a side of blackjack, the Idaho/Nevada border town of Jackpot Nevada has you covered. If you're taking the highway route to Jarbidge along the Rubies Route road trip, this is the place to tank up and stock up on supplies.
Jackpot Nevada: Bustling on the Border
Jackpot is one of Nevada’s truest-to-form gambling towns. In the early 1950s when neighboring Idaho kicked out all gaming operations, the town of Jackpot sprang up almost immediately as a direct rebuttal, establishing itself inches across the Idaho border in—shall we say—the slightly more lenient Silver State. While legal casinos are the aptly named town’s main attraction, Jackpot is also a perfect place to stock up for or unwind from all sorts of recreational pursuits, especially in the nearby Jarbidge Wilderness Area—crown jewel of Nevada’s Rubies Route road trip—home to unparalleled fishing, hiking, hunting, and backcountry exploration. For those in search of civilization, Jackpot offers comfortable accommodations, belly-filling dining options, a golf course open year-round, and, of course, all the casino games your heart desires.
History of Jackpot, Nevada
After Idaho outlawed all forms of casino gaming in 1954, Pete Piersanti and Don French moved their slot machine operations south of the Idaho border to this spot, opening Cactus Petes and the Horseshu Club.
In May of 1958, Elko County recognized the unincorporated town of “Horse Shu,” population: 65. However, due to “Cactus Pete” Piersanti’s protests, county commissioners renamed it one month later as “Unincorporated Town No. 1.” Eventually, the clubs compromised on the mutually beneficial name of Jackpot.
The small clubs eventually grew from slot machine dens into full-on casinos, which now cater to—and employ—south Idahoans, all while providing hospitality, sustenance, and conveniences to road trippers all year long.
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Things To Do in Jackpot
While road trippers, truckers, and gaming-starved Idahoans love the allure of Jackpot’s array of slot machines and table games, the town is also a sure bet as a jumping-off point for some seriously memorable outdoor action. If you’re heading onto hundreds of miles of off-road trails, taking a dip at Nat-Soo-Pah Hot Springs (located just a half-hour north of the Idaho border), or venturing out on a bucket list-crushing Jarbidge, Nevada adventure, Jackpot is your undisputed launchpad—and, afterwords, landing zone.
While Jarbidge, the last true frontier town in the Lower 48 and the gateway to the unparalleled Jarbidge Wilderness, can be reached from Elko—via a section of 60+ miles of dirt road over multiple passes topping 9,000 feet from late summer until whenever the snow falls—the “year-round,” far more (but not entirely) paved route, which dips into a small portion of Idaho, starts here. Those who make the trip are rewarded with pristine wilderness, fishing so good it’s almost unfair, trails galore, and one badass little town with not one but two Sagebrush Saloons.
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However, regardless of where you’re headed, if your sense of adventure is calibrated to that of your humor, don’t leave town before a foray into the Jackpot “National” Forest—or at least a picnic or pet pee stop. Although it’s nearly impossible to verify, urban legend has it that Cactus Petes donated a chunk of land to the U.S. Forest Service to halt the town’s development, then wished to expand there themselves, but now couldn’t. All we really do know about this small, tree-shrouded chunk of town is that you’ll never snap selfies in a smaller “forest.” #WeirdNevada at its finest.
Jackpot, Nevada Restaurants
Whether you’re sitting down for your last pre-backcountry restaurant meal on the Rubies Route or are simply a road-weary cruiser along US-93, Jackpot has your taste buds covered.
At Cactus Petes, chow down on everything from classic diner delights like chicken fried steak to dinner delicacies like shrimp and lobster mac in the Desert Room; cut into a juicy ribeye topped with shrimp at 36 Steak & Seafood; and grab late-night pizza at NOSH. Or bring your appetite for breakfast, lunch, or dinner—24 hours a day—to Barton’s Club 93 Restaurant, especially on weekends, when Mexican specialties reign supreme.
If you’re looking to get a good night’s sleep, pre- or post-adventure, in this corner of the Silver State, Jackpot offers plenty of cozy options. Cactus Petes Resort Casino, the Horseshu Hotel & Casino, and Barton’s Club 93 all offer full-amenity operations, each with their own on-site dining. Meanwhile, those looking to park—and fully hook up—their rolling home for the night will find pull-through sites and everything else at Cactus Petes Saguaro RV Park. Meanwhile, Western vibe vestiges can still be found at Cottonwood Ranch, a working horse and cattle ranch that gives guests a chance to fish, mountain bike, birdwatch, take guided snowmobile tours, and relax in a truly beautiful setting.
Whether you’re sippin’ cocktails, munchin’ lobster tails, or rippin’ around on some of Nevada’s most rugged backcountry trails, tag your pics with #TravelNevada for the chance to be featured right here or in Nevada Magazine & Visitor Guide!