Abundance of Altitude
30 mi to 375 mi
2 to 5 days
Welcome to Nevada’s majestic, mountainous northeastern corner. With the cowboy-cool town of Elko as your hub, follow this route’s wild spokes to some of Nevada’s most coveted and surprising scenic treasures. Recreation opportunities are as vast and varied as this landscape of towering peaks, alpine lakes, flowing streams, and horizon-chasing valleys. Tackle trails in glacier-carved Lamoille Canyon. Watch wildlife at Angel Lake and Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Or venture north to remote, rugged Jarbidge—one of the last true frontier towns—by way of some wide-open, wondrous wilderness. Wherever you end up, keep your camera handy.
- Hike, fish, and find Kodak moments in spectacular Lamoille Canyon
- Birdwatch and kayak the labyrinthine waters of 370K-acre Ruby Lake
- Dirt-road it over 8,500-ft wilderness passes to the off-grid town of Jarbidge
Rock Out on the Rubies Route
Where On the Road Meets Off the Grid
All roads lead to splendor on the Rubies Route. Its centerpiece, Lamoille Canyon, is a glacier-sculpted sanctuary in the heart of the 11,000-ft Ruby Mountains, harboring some of the best hiking, camping, fishing, and off-grid alpine solace-seeking this side of the Rockies. A loop around the backside of the Rubies carries you to a pristine valley anchored by a protected lake home to hundreds of bird species and maze-like kayak trails, and then to Angel Lake, where wild critters cling to cliffs. And then there’s Jarbidge, a delightfully rough-and-tumble riverfront town with a handful or residents, two epic sagebrush saloons, and direct access to some of the most remote wilderness in the USA.
Prepare for Your Adventure
Get ready to come chase some horizons with this handy tool kit. Here, you’ll find all the Rubies Route road trip essentials, including downloadable directions, maps, and podcasts, and tunes to complement your upcoming adventure.
Adjust Your Altitude
Going All Out on the Rubies Route
Far from your normal “Point A to Point B” kind of road trip, the Rubies Route’s hub is Elko, with three main spokes all leading to scenic slices of recreation-packed paradise. Chase trails and trout in stunning Lamoille Canyon, wildlife and water at Ruby Lake and Angel Lake, or go wild on the way to Jarbidge, one of the West’s last true frontier towns.
Rubies-bound on Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway
Pack your boots, rod, and camera and head up to Lamoille Canyon, where trails carry you to stunning views, flowery meadows, and alpine lakes teeming with trout.
Angels, Animals & Ales
Stop for a sipper in Jiggs (Population: 2) en route to sweeping Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Loop back to Elko via a beer-brewing ranch and breathtaking Angel Lake.
Journey to Jarbidge
Romp north through wildflowery wilderness and over high-elevation dirt passes to rugged Jarbidge—one of the most isolated towns in the Lower 48—for pure, off-grid bliss.
Elko to Lamoille Canyon and the Ruby Mountains
60 miles out-and-back
Often compared to the Swiss Alps, the Ruby Mountains’ steep, craggy peaks rise nearly 5,000 feet above the valley below, capped by Ruby Dome at 11,387 feet. A 45-minute drive puts you at the top of Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway, where hikes range from couple-hour jaunts to multi-day thru-hikes on the Ruby Crest National Recreation Trail, all to beautiful, trout-packed alpine lakes. In winter the byway becomes a snowmobile superhighway to powdery paradise, where heli-skiers rejoice at more than 300 inches of annual snowfall.
Nevada is all about open-road adventures, but please brush up on travel restrictions and safety guidelines before heading for our horizons.
Elko’s hotels and motels offer all the amenities. Closer to the mountains are rustic Hotel Lamoille and two swanky wilderness yurts—one on top of a Ruby Mountain ridge, another tucked in the woods on a babbling brook.
Rodeway Inn Elko Downtown Area
Red Lion Hotel & Casino
Ruby 360 Lodge
Stockmen’s Casino and Ramada Hotel
Lamoille Canyon calls to hikers, backpackers, and trout bums with miles of trails along rushing creeks, craggy ridges, and alpine lakes. In winter, send it on a rented snowmobile or shred it on a guided heli-skiing tour.
Ruby Mountains Heli Experience
Northeastern Nevada Museum
LAMOILLE CANYON & THE RUBY MOUNTAINS
California Trail Interpretive Center
Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway
Ruby Crest National Recreation Trail
Grab a pre-hike breakfast at McAdoo’s or wraps to go at Ogi Deli. If you hike up an appetite, hearty steaks await at Lamoille’s Pine Lodge Dinner House, or in Elko at Machi’s and a couple classic Basque joints.
Machi’s Saloon & Grill
Duncan Littlecreek Gallery & the Gallery Bar
Pine Lodge Dinner House
Ogi Deli Bar & Pintxos
The Star Hotel
You deserve to see the Ruby Mountains. However, if you’d rather earn it, do so on foot in a relay race or on a mountain bike on a one-day gravel ride. It’s also not a bad backdrop for a heap of hot air balloons, either.
Elko to Ruby Lake NWR, Angel Lake, and back
115 to 210 miles
This spoke is all about liquid wonders. If mostly-dirt Harrison Pass is open, the friendly folks at remote Jiggs Bar will know; call ’em, then show up for a cold one on your way to Ruby Valley. (If it’s not, take paved Secret Pass / NV-229.) Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge offers a 370,000-acre panorama of watery grandeur, home to 220 species of birds and plenty of fish. Call to schedule a visit at Ruby Mountain Brewing Co. en route to photogenic Angel Lake, an aspen-cliffed gem where wildlife abound, hidden just 12 miles up from I-80.
Travel Nevada Pro Tip
If you don’t already have a comfy bed waiting for you in Elko, Wells has you covered. Or spring for an Uncommon Overnighter with teepee glamping at a wild horse refuge or a luxurious lodge on a working ranch.
Angel Creek Campground
Stockmen’s Casino and Ramada Hotel
Hampton Inn & Suites—Wells
Super 8 Motel – Wells
Red Lion Hotel & Casino
Mustang Monument Eco-Resort & Preserve
Rodeway Inn Elko Downtown Area
Enjoy panoramic Ruby Mountain views from South Fork. Check out Ruby Lake, one of 500 Globally Important Bird Areas on Earth. Then hike and wildlife-watch at Angel Lake, the jewel of the East Humboldt Range.
Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge
South Fork State Recreation Area
Stop in to Jiggs Bar, home to cold beers and great convos, often about their story-worthy taxidermy. Call Ruby Mountain Brewing Co. for a ranch-brewed beer tasting. In Wells, the menu at Bella’s is as long as it is tasty.
Ruby Mountain Brewing Company
Bella’s Restaurant & Espresso
Elko to Jarbidge
Summer Route: 105 miles (unpaved), one way. Highway Route: 195 miles, one way
It doesn’t get much more off-the-grid than Jarbidge. Site of the last American gold rush (and thus, stagecoach robbery), this no-BS Wild Western town (seasonal population: 11 to 100) draws anglers, off-roaders, shutterbugs, and nature-chasers, as a gateway to the picture-perfect Jarbidge Wilderness Area, one of the most remote corners of the state—and country. The dirt passes from Elko only get plowed once a year (around July 4) and get snowed in as early as October. Alternatively, there’s a paved route via Jackpot and… Idaho!
Locals love day-tripping to Jarbidge. And you can. But with all the splendor (and sagebrush saloon hospitality) waiting at the end of the trail, we recommend an overnighter. Luckily, the Outdoor Inn’s got you covered.
Tsawhawbitts Ranch Bed & Breakfast
Barton’s Club 93
Horseshu Hotel & Casino
Cactus Petes Resort Casino
Gear up for miles of dirt roads and trails, countless home-is-where-you-park-it camping spots, pristine rivers with fishing so hot it’s almost unfair, and a wilderness town brimming with history and frontier character.
Wild Horse State Recreation Area
Jackpot “National” Forest
Historic Jarbidge Jail
Jarbidge Community Hall
Jarbidge Wilderness Area
Nevada Glassworks LTD
Jarbidge may only have 11-ish year-round residents, but that doesn’t stop it from having TWO epic sagebrush saloons. The Outdoor Inn serves great food, pies, and milkshakes. If you dig Iron Maiden, say so at the Red Dog.
Red Dog Saloon – Virginia City
Jarbidge Trading Post
Care to share your absolutely gorgeous views with us? When you tag #RubiesRoute, we’ll be vicariously oohing and ahhing over all the scenic wonders you’re seeing.
Want a little more of the Weirdest, Wildest West?
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