I80 cowboy
distance from reno to wendover

Cowboy Corridor

Gear Up For the Ride of Your Life

Route Distance

400 miles on I-80 Nevada

Suggested Time

2 to 4 days

Few road trips brim with as much Western heritage as Nevada’s Cowboy Corridor. And here’s the thing: I-80 Nevada may be a highway some motorists expect to blast down on their way to somewhere else. Their loss! Speed limits hit 80 mph out here, but when you hit a town, slow down. Beyond those off-ramps, you’ll discover lively communities full of history and right-now attractions, with museums, art galleries, poetry and music festivals, and even beers highlighting the confluence of buckaroo, Basque, and American Indian traditions that have shaped the Silver State. So pack your boots, hit the Cowboy Corridor, and become part of the story.

Highlights

  • Brush up on buckaroo culture at museums, heritage centers & Western shops
  • Dig into hearty, family-style Basque feasts at century-old dinner houses
  • Set your own land speed record at West Wendover’s Bonneville Salt Flats

Crossing Nevada on the Cowboy Corridor

Basques, Buckaroos & Ruby Mountain Views

Truckers and travelers have long been rocketing across I-80 Nevada from Reno to West Wendover. However, true Cowboy Corridor road trippers follow their temptations to a whole trove of just-off-the-interstate treasures in towns whose Western roots still proudly show. Institutions like the Western Folklife Center, Cowboy Arts & Gear Museum, and Buckaroo Hall of Fame offer a glimpse of Nevada’s rootin’-tootin’ past, while Basque restaurants, guest ranches, ghost town B&Bs, and Buckaroo Brew Pale Ales let you taste it. Along the way, discover other ways the Nevada’s West remains wild among the sky-scraping Ruby Mountains, breathtaking Angel Lake, hiking and biking trails galore, and beyond.

Glovebox Essentials

Prepare for Your Adventure

Get ready to come chase some horizons with this handy tool kit. Here, you’ll find all the Cowboy Corridor road trip essentials, including downloadable directions, maps, and podcasts, and tunes to complement your upcoming adventure.

Cowboy Corridor Playlist

Portraits of Nevada on the #CowboyCorridor

Embracing Wisdom & Tradition Along Nevada’s Cowboy Corridor | EP 1

Embracing Wisdom & Tradition Along Nevada’s Cowboy Corridor | EP 2

Embracing Wisdom & Tradition Along Nevada’s Cowboy Corridor | EP 3

Time to Boot Up

Earnin’ Your Spurs on the Cowboy Corridor

It ain’t all cowboys out here. Basque and American Indian traditions also shine bright, and modern-day recreationalists have roamed northern Nevada’s wild backcountry for generations. Altogether, few routes brim with as many of Nevada’s Western cultural legacies as noticeably as the one we call the Cowboy Corridor. Chompin’ at the bit yet? Explore more.

Leg 1

Tote Your Pack Down that Dusty Winnemucca Road

Start your trip like Johnny Cash started “I’ve Been Everywhere” and wind your way from Reno to Winnemucca for buckaroo history, Basque bites, and mountain bike trails.

Leg 2

History, Heritage, Art Appeal & Hearty Meals

Next up: Elko, which serves up hefty helpings of cultural history at museums, in 51 murals, and on your plate. Don your other boots for Ruby Mountain outdoor adventures.

Leg 3

Wild Herds, Migratory Birds & Land Speed Records

Watch for bighorn and mountain goats at Angel Lake, then head to West Wendover, where the Historic Wendover Airfield, the Bonneville Salt Flats, and a 63-ft neon cowboy await.

reno to winnemucca

Leg 1

Reno to Winnemucca via Lovelock

165 miles

The first two towns Johnny Cash references in “I’ve Been Everywhere” are Winnemucca and Reno. (He also mentions Charleston and Dayton, but we won’t argue he meant the Nevada ones.) Crank it up, head from Reno to Lovelock, and help the town live up to its name by “locking your love” to a never-ending chain. Then scope out the #WeirdNevada wonder that is Thunder Mountain Monument on your way to Winnemucca, where the artifact-packed Humboldt Museum and Buckaroo Hall of Fame await, along with decadent meals at the Martin.

Nevada is all about open-road adventures, but please brush up on travel restrictions and safety guidelines before heading for our horizons.

Travel Nevada Pro Tip

A night that’s anything but “Roughing It” awaits at the Old Pioneer Garden Country Inn on a short detour to Unionville, home of Mark Twain’s miner’s cabin.

In Winnemucca, choose from retro-chic (and neon-glowing) motels to familiar chains. For a historic night’s sleep, the charming Old Pioneer Garden Country Inn in Unionville is a stone’s throw from Mark Twain’s old miner’s cabin.

Winners Hotel & Casino

Winners Hotel & Casino

Winnemucca

Old Pioneer Garden Country Inn

Old Pioneer Garden Country Inn

Imlay

Quality Inn Winnemucca – Model T Casino

Quality Inn Winnemucca – Model T Casino

Winnemucca

Scott Shady Court

Scott Shady Court

Winnemucca

Best Western Gold Country Inn – Winnemucca

Best Western Gold Country Inn – Winnemucca

Winnemucca

Winnemucca Inn

Winnemucca Inn

Winnemucca

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Western buffs and history hounds should high-tail it to the Buckaroo Hall of Fame and the expansive Humboldt Museum. But there’s plenty here (and along the way) for off-roaders, mountain bikers, animal lovers, and more.

Thunder Mountain Monument

Thunder Mountain Monument

Imlay

Water Canyon Recreation Area

Water Canyon Recreation Area

Winnemucca

Nanny Joe’s Antiques, Retro & Vintage

Nanny Joe’s Antiques, Retro & Vintage

Lovelock

Lovers Lock Plaza

Lovers Lock Plaza

Lovelock

Winnemucca Sand Dunes

Winnemucca Sand Dunes

Winnemucca

Unionville Ghost Town

Unionville Ghost Town

Unionville

Humboldt Museum

Humboldt Museum

Winnemucca

Main Street Art Park

Main Street Art Park

Fernley

Lovelock Cave & Backcountry Byway

Lovelock Cave & Backcountry Byway

Lovelock

Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary

Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary

Lovelock

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Basque bites abound on the Cowboy Corridor. Get a first taste at Louis’ Basque Corner in Reno, at Winnemucca’s historic Martin Hotel, or up at the Paradise Valley Saloon. And if you’ve never tried a Picon, today’s your day.

The Martin Hotel in Winnemucca

The Martin Hotel in Winnemucca

Winnemucca

Gold Diggers Saloon & Grub House

Gold Diggers Saloon & Grub House

Lovelock

Paradise Valley Saloon & Bar G

Paradise Valley Saloon & Bar G

Paradise Valley

Bakarra Basque Bistro

Bakarra Basque Bistro

Winnemucca

Louis’ Basque Corner

Louis’ Basque Corner

Reno

The Griddle

The Griddle

Winnemucca

Mary & Moe’s Wigwam Restaurant & Casino

Mary & Moe’s Wigwam Restaurant & Casino

Fernley

Cowpoke Café

Cowpoke Café

Lovelock

Bakker’s Brew

Bakker’s Brew

Battle Mountain

Yvonne’s Hot Dogs

Yvonne’s Hot Dogs

Fernley

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Reno’s cowboy culture lives on at the century-old, weeklong, all-pro Reno Rodeo. Meanwhile, working ranches send their best hands to Winnemucca, a town that also celebrates bikers, horseshoe pitchers, and photographers.

Shooting the West Photography Symposium

Shooting the West Photography Symposium

Run-A-Mucca Motorcycle and Music Festival

Run-A-Mucca Motorcycle and Music Festival

Reno Rodeo: Wildest, Richest Rodeo in the West

Reno Rodeo: Wildest, Richest Rodeo in the West

Winnemucca Ranch Hand Rodeo Weekend

Winnemucca Ranch Hand Rodeo Weekend

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winnemucca to elko

Leg 2

Winnemucca to Elko via Battle Mountain

125 miles

Continue east from Winnemucca to Elko, stopping in Battle Mountain to scope out the ephemera-filled Battle Mountain Cookhouse Museum. Then cruise along the meandering Humboldt River to Elko, the heart of Nevada’s cowboy country, where western heritage thrives in four distinct museums, at legendary J.M. Capriola Co.’s leatherwork (and more) shop, on 70+ pieces of radiant public art, in traditional Basque restaurants, and beyond. Elko’s also the gateway to Alp-like Lamoille Canyon, where scenic drives and stunning hikes await.

Thanks to a mining boom, plenty of Elko hotels offer everything you need. Stay walking distance from all the action at old-school Stockmen’s or the clean, comfy Rodeway Inn. For a casino-resort feel, Red Lion’s your jam.

Rodeway Inn Elko Downtown Area

Rodeway Inn Elko Downtown Area

Elko

Stockmen’s Casino and Ramada Hotel

Stockmen’s Casino and Ramada Hotel

Elko

Red Lion Hotel & Casino

Red Lion Hotel & Casino

Elko

Peruse pioneer history at the California Trail Interpretive Center, admire Ansel Adams originals at the Northeastern Nevada Museum, and discover the rich world of cowboy poetry and music at the Western Folklife Center.

Northeastern Nevada Museum

Northeastern Nevada Museum

Elko

J.M. Capriola Co. and Garcia Bit and Spur Co.

J.M. Capriola Co. and Garcia Bit and Spur Co.

Elko

California Trail Interpretive Center

California Trail Interpretive Center

Elko

Western Folklife Center

Western Folklife Center

Elko

Cowboy Arts & Gear Museum

Cowboy Arts & Gear Museum

Elko

Battle Mountain Cookhouse Museum

Battle Mountain Cookhouse Museum

Battle Mountain

Lamoille Canyon & The Ruby Mountains

Lamoille Canyon & The Ruby Mountains

Lamoille

Elko Mural Tour

Elko Mural Tour

Elko

Ruby Crest National Recreation Trail

Ruby Crest National Recreation Trail

Lamoille

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Battle Mountain’s on-the-way eats include Mexican classics, gluten-free pizza, and diner delights. In Elko, it’s all about Basque-ing in steak sandwiches, lamb chops, multi-course dinners, tapas, and Picon punches, to boot.

Toki Ona

Toki Ona

Elko

The Star Hotel

The Star Hotel

Elko

Machi’s Saloon & Grill

Machi’s Saloon & Grill

Elko

Owl Club Casino Restaurant & Motel

Owl Club Casino Restaurant & Motel

Battle Mountain

Ogi Deli Bar & Pintxos

Ogi Deli Bar & Pintxos

Elko

Mama’s Pizza & Deli

Mama’s Pizza & Deli

Battle Mountain

Duncan Littlecreek Gallery & the Gallery Bar

Duncan Littlecreek Gallery & the Gallery Bar

Elko

El Aguila Real

El Aguila Real

Battle Mountain

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Thousands of revelers turn up for wild, town-wide celebrations of ranch life through verse and song; Basque heritage with dancing and woodchopping competitions; and buckaroo skills with bull riding, bronc riding, and more. 

National Cowboy Poetry Gathering 2022 – Cancelled

National Cowboy Poetry Gathering 2022 – Cancelled

Silver State Stampede

Silver State Stampede

World Human Powered Speed Challenge

World Human Powered Speed Challenge

National Basque Festival

National Basque Festival

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elko to wendover

Leg 3

Elko to West Wendover via Wells

110 to 130 miles

This ride ain’t over, and neither are its surprises. This last leg takes you to breathtaking, wildlife-abundant Angel Lake en route to West Wendover, home to military history at Historic Wendover Airfield, the famed Bonneville Salt Flats, and big-name live entertainment. The nearby Goshute Range hosts a migratory bird station, where you can help track and release wild hawks. On your way out, be sure to wave to Wendover Will, the 63-ft-tall neon cowboy, to officially wrap up your Cowboy Corridor excursion.

West Wendover does its Nevada border town duty, offering interstate travelers their very first (or last) casino-resorts, complete with 24-hour gaming, plush rooms, pools, live entertainment, and more.

Red Garter Hotel & Casino

Red Garter Hotel & Casino

West Wendover

Wendover Nugget Hotel & Casino

Wendover Nugget Hotel & Casino

West Wendover

West Wendover Peppermill Hotel Casino

West Wendover Peppermill Hotel Casino

West Wendover

Montego Bay Casino & Resort

Montego Bay Casino & Resort

West Wendover

Rainbow Hotel Casino

Rainbow Hotel Casino

West Wendover

Hampton Inn & Suites—Wells

Hampton Inn & Suites—Wells

Wells

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Spot bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and pronghorn at Angel Lake. Help track migratory raptors with Hawkwatch International. Check out a bootlegger party cave. Or investigate lofty history at Historic Wendover Airfield Museum.

Blue Lake Wildlife Management Area

Blue Lake Wildlife Management Area

West Wendover

Bonneville Salt Flats

Bonneville Salt Flats

Wendover

Wendover Will

Wendover Will

West Wendover

Peppermill Concert Hall

Peppermill Concert Hall

West Wendover

Hawkwatch International & the Goshute Raptor Migration Project

Hawkwatch International & the Goshute Raptor Migration Project

West Wendover

Angel Lake

Angel Lake

Wells

Sun Tunnels & Bonneville Land Art

Sun Tunnels & Bonneville Land Art

West Wendover

Historic Wendover Airfield Museum

Historic Wendover Airfield Museum

Wendover

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Forget touristy tasting rooms and seen-’em-all tours. Schedule a visit to the Saffords’ working ranch—a rustic beer lover’s oasis for over 20 years—and enjoy some award-winning beers ’til the cows literally come home.

Bella’s Restaurant & Espresso

Bella’s Restaurant & Espresso

Wells

Out here, it’s all about Bonneville, baby. Get ready for rocket launches and races across the salt flats with wild cars, motorcycles, and even bicycles at numerous events, held where some speedometers top out near 1000 mph.

Bonneville HellFire Rockets Launch

Bonneville HellFire Rockets Launch

Bonneville World Finals

Bonneville World Finals

Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials

Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials

Bonneville Speed Week

Bonneville Speed Week

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#CowboyCorridor

Lasso up some stellar shots cruising this heritage-packed highway? We’ll digitally tip our hats to ya when you share ‘em with #CowboyCorridor.

If you’ve ever traveled east from Reno, Fernley, or Lovelock to Winnemucca, you’ve driven by it. You might not have thought twice to look, and if you didn’t, you could easily have missed it, even though it abuts Interstate 80. “It” is Thunder Mountain Indian Monument, nominally a monument but also an enigmatic roadside curiosity, a colossal sculpture (or series of sculptures), a living quarters, a rock garden, an otherworldly place of silence and mystery, and the life’s work of one exceedingly unusual Nevadan.
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#DFMI 📷 of  by @kgsandi
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#TravelNevada #NVart #ThunderMountain #I80 #Interstate80 #Imlay #Nevada #NV #NVRoadsideAttraction #WeirdNevada #VisitTheUSA #BattleBorn #HomeMeansNevada #NVRoadTrip #beautifuldestinations#TravelStoke #USA #TravelPhotography #TravelDiary #MyTinyAtlas #EarthFocus #AwesomeGlobe #RoamThePlanet #WeLiveToExplore #GetOutside #NothingIsOrdinary #explorenevada #NevadaLife #wonderful_places
Blue skies with the little humans I made

#blueskies #maybesummer #butwhoknows .
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#hiking #forceofnature #rei1440project #trailmom #trailmothers #adventuremamas #womenwhoexplore #womenwhohike #trailchat #nevada #dfmi #naturalnevada #explorenevada #optoutside #travelnevada #mountains #desert #highdesert #watercanyon #winnemucca #sonomarange #publiclands #osprey #ospreypoco #ospreypacks #nature #naturetherapy
Bakarra Basque Bistro- Winnemucca, Nevada. Seriously good eats with mouthwatering lunch specials! #winnemuccanevada #winnemuccadining #travelnevada #goodeats #basqueamerican #bakarrabasquebistro
Saskatchewan’s colterwall on stage at the 35th annual cowboypoetrygathering in Elko, Nevada. We sent lizbeddall down to travelnevada to investigate the gathering, stay tuned for her story on CanGeoTravel.ca!
Picon punching in #elko with my new French friends. 🥃 🇫🇷 #travelnevada #dfmi
The ghost town of Paradise Valley is a photographer's dream. Just 50 miles north of present-day Winnemucca lies this stunning, panoramic valley filled with unique, ghost-towny buildings.
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#DFMI #TravelNevada #NVGhostTown #NVAdventure #NV #GhostTown #NVRoadTrip #RoadTripSeason
I'm so sorry your heart rate never got over 100 (probably) with my slowness, but I did carry two of your giant fat babies sooooooooooo #getoverit 
#mtb #husbands #mountainbiking #dateride #optoutside #bloodyshins #bloodyshinstrail #winnemucca #nevada #travelnevada #dfmi #naturalnevada #howtonevada #mountains #desert
Wandering...and wishing I could go inside. (Paradise Valley, NV)
“How can something as intangible as magic be explained? I will honor Elko in my heart and keep it all year round” was one of the best ways I’ve heard this feeling I get January after January described. Coming to Elko truly is the tuning fork for the year, and hot damn was it a good one. Thanks for the fill up Brigid and Hal 🖤 #howtonevada
Hwy 140, north of Winnemucca, NV. Lat. 41.3960423N, Long. -117.7887583W 📸photo by my  bro blacksheep_bbq #travel #explore #adventure #nevada #winnemucca #classic #vintage #explorenevada #desert #highway #seeker #liveferal
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