When you think of Nevada, lush green fields full of wildflowers backed by snow-capped mountains probably doesn’t immediately come to mind — but in Northeastern Nevada, that’s just what you’ll find!
Lamoille Canyon (formed by glaciers) and the Ruby Mountains (a.k.a. The Swiss Alps of Nevada) is still largely untouched, with more than two dozen alpine lakes. One of my favorite parts about this area of Nevada was the lack of crowds — it often felt as if I had many of the trails all to myself.
This area’s rugged beauty will captivate any nature-lover’s heart. If you’re looking for solitude and awe-inspiring beauty, the Rubies Route should be high on your list!
Travel Guide to Nevada’s Rubies Route + Packing Tips
How to Get There
The Rubies route is located in Elko County. If you’re not road tripping through this area, you can fly into the small airport of Elko, which is situated along Hwy 80 in Northeastern Nevada. There are two flights a day with Delta Airlines, which connect in Salt Lake City.
Where to Stay
The town of Elko has plenty of accommodation options and it’s a good base camp for exploring this area. Elko is a 30-minute drive from the start of Lamoille Canyon and about 50 minutes away from the trailheads that lead to the Ruby Mountains.
It’s also only a 50-minute drive to the town of Wells, where you’ll find the best beer in Nevada (Ruby Mountain Brewing Company) and a natural hot spring (12-Mile Hot Spring).
The Red Lion Hotel & Casino is a 3-Star hotel with inexpensive rooms, two restaurants and an outdoor pool. Other highly-rated options include Hilton Garden Inn Elko and Ramada Elko Hotel.
You can also camp at Thomas Canyon — a gorgeous campground located inside Lamoille Canyon, close to the Ruby Mountain hiking trails.
Where to Eat
Pine Lodge: This restaurant/hotel in Lamoille is a unique experience for those who are looking for an intimate atmosphere, juicy steaks, and friendly service.
The Star Hotel: If you ask any of the locals where to eat, they will almost always recommend Star Hotel. This is a great option for those travelers looking for a high-end steakhouse right in Elko.
Aspen’s Bar & Grill: I personally loved Aspen’s for their variety of dishes — from fish to steak — and their lobster bisque is to die for.
Good Blends: A great choice for a quick breakfast if you’re looking for a healthier option. They have green smoothies, fruit smoothies and organic coffee.
Fresh Fare Bistro: Another healthy option in Elko that’s great for lunch.
Bella’s Restaurant & Espresso: Generous portions of homemade food is what you’ll find at this legendary restaurant in Wells.
Hike or Backpack in the Ruby Mountains: All of the Ruby Mountain Trails begin near the parking lot at the very end of Lamoille Canyon. Keep in mind that the hiking season depends on the snow pack for that year. I visited in early July and some of the trails were still a little difficult to follow because of some sections that were covered in snow.
Drive Lamoille Canyon: This glacier carved canyon is the gateway to the Rubies and the scenery is unlike any other place in Nevada! Stop along the way to take photos or go for a short hike; there’s plenty to see along this 12-mile scenic byway.
Soak in 12-Mile Hot Spring: This 4-mile round trip hike leads to a 102F natural hot pool. It’s located roughly 12 miles north of the town of Wells.
Fly Fishing: Bring your own pole or rent one once you get to Elko — this area is a fishing heaven.
Tour Ruby Mountain Brewing Company: Established in 1994, this microbrewery is located on a working ranch in Wells, Nevada. Call ahead to request a tour and sample some of Nevada’s best beers.
California Trail Interpretive Center: If you’re a history buff, this interpretive center is a unique place to learn the stories of the pioneers who endured the 2,000-mile trek to California in 1841.
Nevada Packing Essentials
Hiking Boots: I was thankful to have these hiking shoes for river crossings, muddy patches along the trail, and walking through patches of snow!
Swimwear: You’ll want this for the hot springs and to cool off after your long hike up to one of the many lakes in the Ruby Mountains.
Daypack: A good backpack is necessary if you’re doing any hiking in the area. I used this daypack which has a camelback pouch, an attached rain fly, padded straps, and enough space to pack snacks + camera gear.
Water Bottle and/or Camelback: I brought both a hydration bladder and an extra water bottle. Another option is to bring a mini water filtration system to fill up your water bottles in a stream or in one of the lakes.
Sunblock: You don’t want anything less than 45 SPF; some of the trails have very little shade. This is one of my favorite brands — it’s eco-friendly, not tested on animals, and comes in a TSA-friendly travel size tube.
Camera Gear: You’ll want to capture the beauty of this place! See our complete camera buying guide here.
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