Gear Up For the Ride of Your Life
400 miles on I-80 Nevada
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 via Lovelock
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.
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.
Quality Inn Winnemucca – Model T Casino
Old Pioneer Garden Country Inn
Scott Shady Court
Best Western Gold Country Inn – Winnemucca
Winners Hotel & Casino
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.
Winnemucca Sand Dunes
Main Street Art Park
Water Canyon Recreation Area
Unionville Ghost Town
Thunder Mountain Monument
Lovelock Cave & Backcountry Byway
Lovers Lock Plaza
Bloody Shins Trail
Nanny Joe’s Antiques, Retro & Vintage
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.
Louis’ Basque Corner
Mary & Moe’s Wigwam Restaurant & Casino
The Martin Hotel in Winnemucca
Gold Diggers Saloon & Grub House
Paradise Valley Saloon & Bar G
Bakarra Basque Bistro
Yvonne’s Hot Dogs
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.
Winnemucca to Elko via Battle Mountain
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
Red Lion Hotel & Casino
Stockmen’s Casino and Ramada Hotel
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.
California Trail Interpretive Center
Western Folklife Center
Lamoille Canyon & The Ruby Mountains
Battle Mountain Cookhouse Museum
Cowboy Arts & Gear Museum
Northeastern Nevada Museum
Ruby Crest National Recreation Trail
Elko Mural Tour
J.M. Capriola Co. and Garcia Bit and Spur Co.
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.
Duncan Littlecreek Gallery & the Gallery Bar
Owl Club Casino Restaurant & Motel
Machi’s Saloon & Grill
Ogi Deli Bar & Pintxos
El Aguila Real
Mama’s Pizza & Deli
The Star Hotel
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.
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.
Montego Bay Casino & Resort
Wendover Nugget Hotel & Casino
Rainbow Hotel Casino
West Wendover Peppermill Hotel Casino
Hampton Inn & Suites—Wells
Red Garter Hotel & Casino
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.
Historic Wendover Airfield Museum
Bonneville Salt Flats
Blue Lake Wildlife Management Area
Sun Tunnels & Bonneville Land Art
Peppermill Concert Hall
Hawkwatch International & the Goshute Raptor Migration Project
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
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.
Hitting the Road? Here’s the Map.
Our 10 Nevada Road Trips
Searching for road trip ideas? Look no further. Go ahead. Scroll around and click the road trip icons for the inside scoop on Nevada’s 10 best road trips, with detailed itineraries, maps, and tips for getting off the beaten track.
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True Tales & Travel Tips
Get our takes on must-experience attractions, excursions, restaurants, and lodging—as well as plenty of pro tips on visiting ghost towns, parks, historic sites, and far more—all curated by those who know this wild state by heart.