ruby mountains elko nevada
ruby mountains nevada

Rubies Route

Abundance of Altitude

Route Distance

30 mi to 375 mi

Suggested Time

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. 

Highlights

  • 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.

COMMUNITIES ON THIS TRIP

Elko, Lamoille, Wells, Jarbidge, Jackpot

Glovebox Essentials

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.

Rubies Route Playlist

Getting Into the Blank Spot on the Map Along the Rubies Route | EP 1

Getting Into the Blank Spot on the Map Along the Rubies Route | EP 1

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.

Spoke 1

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.

Spoke 2

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.

Spoke 3

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.

lamoille canyon elko

Spoke 1

Elko to Lamoille Canyon and the Ruby Mountains

60 miles out-and-back

  • Hike to alpine lakes, glacial cirques, and epic vistas in the Ruby Mountains
  • Angle for brook, rainbow, lake, tiger, and even Lahontan cutthroat trout
  • Hike or helicopter in to stay at glamped-out, 9,700-ft Ruby High Yurt

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

Rodeway Inn Elko Downtown Area

Elko

Red Lion Hotel & Casino

Red Lion Hotel & Casino

ELKO

Hotel Lamoille

Hotel Lamoille

Lamoille

Ruby Yurt

Ruby Yurt

LAMOILLE

Ruby 360 Lodge

Ruby 360 Lodge

LAMOILLE

Stockmen’s Casino and Ramada Hotel

Stockmen’s Casino and Ramada Hotel

Elko

View All

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

Ruby Mountains Heli Experience

Lamoille

SledNV

SledNV

ELKO

Northeastern Nevada Museum

Northeastern Nevada Museum

Elko

LAMOILLE CANYON & THE RUBY MOUNTAINS

LAMOILLE CANYON & THE RUBY MOUNTAINS

Spring Creek

California Trail Interpretive Center

California Trail Interpretive Center

ELKO

Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway

Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway

LAMOILLE

Ruby Crest National Recreation Trail

Ruby Crest National Recreation Trail

Lamoille

View All

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

Machi’s Saloon & Grill

Elko

Duncan Littlecreek Gallery & the Gallery Bar

Duncan Littlecreek Gallery & the Gallery Bar

Elko

Pine Lodge Dinner House

Pine Lodge Dinner House

Lamoille

Toki Ona

Toki Ona

ELKO

Ogi Deli Bar & Pintxos

Ogi Deli Bar & Pintxos

ELKO

The Star Hotel

The Star Hotel

Elko

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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.

National Cowboy Poetry Gathering 2022

National Cowboy Poetry Gathering 2022

Ruby Mountain Balloon Festival

Ruby Mountain Balloon Festival

Ruby Roubaix: Gravel Fondo

Ruby Roubaix: Gravel Fondo

ruby mountains range

Spoke 2

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

Ruby Mountain Brewing Co. is on a busy working ranch. Call ahead to schedule any visit. And be sure to watch for it on tap en route!

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

Angel Creek Campground

Wells

Stockmen’s Casino and Ramada Hotel

Stockmen’s Casino and Ramada Hotel

Elko

Hampton Inn & Suites—Wells

Hampton Inn & Suites—Wells

Wells

Super 8 Motel – Wells

Super 8 Motel – Wells

Wells

Cottonwood Ranch

Cottonwood Ranch

WELLS

Red Lion Hotel & Casino

Red Lion Hotel & Casino

ELKO

Mustang Monument Eco-Resort & Preserve

Mustang Monument Eco-Resort & Preserve

Wells

Rodeway Inn Elko Downtown Area

Rodeway Inn Elko Downtown Area

Elko

View All

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

Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge

RUBY VALLEY

Angel Lake

Angel Lake

WELLS

South Fork State Recreation Area

South Fork State Recreation Area

SPRING CREEK

Harrison Pass

Harrison Pass

Jiggs

View All

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

Ruby Mountain Brewing Company

Clover Valley

Jiggs Bar

Jiggs Bar

JIGGS

Bella’s Restaurant & Espresso

Bella’s Restaurant & Espresso

WELLS

northeastern nevada

Spoke 3

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

Tsawhawbitts Ranch Bed & Breakfast

Jarbidge

Outdoor Inn

Outdoor Inn

JARBIDGE

Barton’s Club 93

Barton’s Club 93

Jackpot

Horseshu Hotel & Casino

Horseshu Hotel & Casino

JACKPOT

Cactus Petes Resort Casino

Cactus Petes Resort Casino

Jackpot

Jarbidge Campgrounds

Jarbidge Campgrounds

Jarbidge

View All

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

Wild Horse State Recreation Area

ELKO

Jackpot “National” Forest

Jackpot “National” Forest

Jackpot

Jarbidge River

Jarbidge River

Jarbidge

Historic Jarbidge Jail

Historic Jarbidge Jail

Jarbidge

Jarbidge Community Hall

Jarbidge Community Hall

Jarbidge

Jarbidge Wilderness Area

Jarbidge Wilderness Area

JARBIDGE

Nevada Glassworks LTD

Nevada Glassworks LTD

Jarbidge

View All

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

Red Dog Saloon – Virginia City

VIRGINIA CITY

Jarbidge Trading Post

Jarbidge Trading Post

Jarbidge

Outdoor Inn

Outdoor Inn

JARBIDGE

#RubiesRoute

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.

If you're looking for your next backcountry adventure while also searching a one-of-a-kind #NVGhostTown look no further than Jarbidge.
•••
This tiny town is just about as far north in Nevada as you can get without crossing into Idaho, and comes with quite the colorful history to boot. Jarbidge prides itself on being the last legit gold rush of the American West after gold was discovered in this breathtakingly beautiful, modern-day wilderness area in 1909.
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When visiting Jarbidge, make time to wander down Main Street, where you can check out old miner’s stables and huts, Pioneer Park, and even former brothels.
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#DFMI #TravelNevada #NVAdventure #CowboyCountry #NV #Nevada #VisitTheUSA #NVRoadTrip
The Ruby Crest Trail is a beautiful scenic trail near Elko, NV in the Ruby Mountains. Looks like jordandnorthrop had a great experience backpacking it! Have you completed the entire trail, or just section-hiked some of them? Let us know! Thanks for the submission. Tag us or use #naturalnevada to be featured! 
#naturalnevada #mothernature #naturelovers #nature #instanature #naturephotography #travel #hiking #lifestyle #explore #adventure #nevada #travelnevada #explorenevada #nevadaliving #NVStateParks #onlyinNV #TravelNevada #HappyTrails #onlyinnevada #NevadaArt #nvmag #sierranevada #greatbasin #homemeansnevada #nationalparks
Getting ready for a whole lot more of this! This weekend I'll be picking up where a adventure left off a few years back. Heading north from the NVBDR to the IDBDR. Stay tuned!
“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
The neon lights of downtown #elko #nevada commercialhotelcasino .
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#homemeansnv #travelnevada #explorenevada #cowboycountry #battleborn #silverstate #naturalnevada #neon #neonlights #downtown #vintage #vintagesigns #wanderlust #travel #explore #traveldeeper 
#instagood #sonya7rii #sonyworldclub #bealpha #travelphotographer #cowboypoetry #commercialcasino #motel #nightphotography #nightphotoshoot #lighttrails
Picon punching in #elko with my new French friends. 🥃 🇫🇷 #travelnevada #dfmi
Have you checked out our latest road trip feature on the Rubies Route? Watch the featured story on our page for more road trip deets.
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The Rubies Route is also home to the California Trail Interpretive Center, just off Interstate 80 on the western edge of Elko. Here, visitors can learn the stories of pioneers who endured this 2,000-mile trek.
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#DFMI #TravelNevada #DiscoverNV #RubiesRoute #Elko #NV #Nevada #NVRoadTrip #ExploreCulture
Do what we can, summer will have its flies. -Ralph Waldo Emerson
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(The water was kinda shallow, to be honest)
#travelnevada #nevada #nv #optoutside #recreateresponsibly #homemeansnevada #silverstate #dontfencemein #letscamp #roam
Paddle boarding and taking pictures in the mountains are getting closer every day!
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#westbysouthwest #nvmag #travelnevada #dfmi #silverstate #homemeansnevada #lamoille #mountains #dollarlakes #rubymountains #rubies #nevada #northernnevada #photography #photooftheday #landscape #landscapephotography #lake #summertime #summer #elko #highdesert
Feeling calmness
📍South Fork Reservoir, Nevada
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#roykero #nature_brilliance #wonderlust #naturephoto #nature_lovers #natureonly #thephotosociety #naturegram #naturelover #earthpix #naturephotography #natureshots  #theimaged #travelblogger #travels #moodygrams #nevada #nevadadesert #elko #elkonevada #wilderness_culture #wildernesslife #mountain_world #mountaineers #mountainpeak #lakeview #lakeliving #naturegeography #natures_hub #shotoniphone
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