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The Ultimate Travel Guide To Nevada’s Rubies Route


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Emmy Carmody



Welcome to Nevada’s Rubies Route, an exhilarating road trip through some of the most picturesque landscapes that the state has to offer. This scenic route spans nearly 160 miles, winding its way through the stunning Ruby Mountains in northeastern Nevada. From majestic peaks to crystal clear lakes, this journey is a paradise for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.


As you embark on this road trip, you will be captivated by the rugged beauty of the Ruby Mountains, which are part of the larger Great Basin Range. The route takes you through quaint towns, historic sites, and provides ample opportunities for outdoor activities to satisfy your sense of adventure.


Throughout the journey, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of alpine meadows, towering peaks, and dense forests. The rich biodiversity and pristine landscapes along the Rubies Route make it a haven for wildlife lovers and nature photographers. Whether you’re seeking solitude or craving adrenaline-pumping adventures, this road trip has something for everyone.


From exploring the wilderness to immersing yourself in local culture and traditions, the Rubies Route is an ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. So fasten your seatbelts, roll down the windows, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through Nevada’s Rubies Route.


Overview of Nevada’s Rubies Route

The Nevada’s Rubies Route is a scenic road trip that meanders through the breathtaking Ruby Mountains in northeastern Nevada. This picturesque route spans approximately 160 miles, taking you on an unforgettable journey through diverse landscapes, charming towns, and historic sites.


As you travel along the Rubies Route, you’ll be mesmerized by the dramatic beauty of the Ruby Mountains, which are renowned for their rugged peaks, alpine meadows, and pristine lakes. The route starts in the charming town of Wells and continues through Elko, Spring Creek, and Lamoille before ending in the small town of Ruby Valley.


One of the highlights of this road trip is the opportunity to explore the Ruby Mountains Wilderness, a protected area that offers endless opportunities for outdoor adventure. Hiking enthusiasts can tackle scenic trails that lead to stunning viewpoints, sparkling lakes, and hidden waterfalls. The Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway, known as the “Nevada’s Yosemite,” is a must-visit attraction along the route, offering panoramic vistas of towering cliffs and cascading streams.


In addition to its natural attractions, the Rubies Route is steeped in history and culture. Along the way, you can discover the heritage of the region by visiting historical sites such as the Western Folklife Center in Elko and the Northeastern Nevada Museum in Elko, which showcases the rich history of the area.


Whether you’re an avid outdoor enthusiast, a history buff, or simply seeking a scenic road trip, the Rubies Route is an adventure worth embarking on. With its breathtaking landscapes, charming towns, and a wealth of recreational activities, this road trip offers a unique glimpse into the untamed beauty of northeastern Nevada.


Best Time to Visit

The best time to embark on the Nevada’s Rubies Route is during the late spring, summer, and early fall months. From May to October, the weather is generally pleasant, with mild temperatures and minimal chances of precipitation.


During the springtime, visitors are treated to vibrant wildflowers blooming in the meadows, creating a stunning backdrop against the snow-capped peaks of the Ruby Mountains. The temperatures are mild, making it an ideal time for hiking and exploring the wilderness. However, be prepared for occasional showers and be sure to check the weather forecast before heading out.


Summer is a popular time to visit the Rubies Route, as the weather is warm and the days are long. This is the perfect season for outdoor activities such as fishing, boating, and camping around the pristine lakes and streams. However, it can get hot during the day, so it’s advisable to bring sunscreen, hats, and plenty of water to stay hydrated.


In the fall, the landscape transforms into a magnificent display of colors as the leaves of the aspen and cottonwood trees change to vibrant hues of yellow and orange. The weather remains pleasant, with cooler temperatures and a crispness in the air. This is a great time for scenic drives, hiking, and wildlife spotting as the animals prepare for the winter months.


It’s important to note that the Rubies Route is located at higher elevations, and the weather can change quickly. It’s always recommended to check the weather forecast and road conditions before you embark on your journey. It’s also advisable to pack layers of clothing to accommodate temperature fluctuations and be prepared for cooler temperatures in the higher elevations.


Overall, the late spring, summer, and early fall months provide the best weather conditions and an abundance of outdoor activities to enjoy along the Nevada’s Rubies Route. Whether you’re seeking blooming wildflowers, sunny days by the lakes, or the vibrant fall foliage, plan your visit during these months to make the most of your road trip adventure.


Getting There

Reaching the starting point of the Nevada’s Rubies Route is relatively straightforward, with several transportation options available depending on your preferences.


By Car: The most convenient way to explore the Rubies Route is by car. If you’re coming from outside the region, you can fly into major airports such as Salt Lake City International Airport or Reno-Tahoe International Airport. Renting a car from the airport will give you the freedom to navigate the route at your own pace. The Rubies Route begins in the town of Wells, which is easily accessible via Interstate 80.


By Bus: For those who prefer public transportation, there are bus services available that connect major cities in Nevada. Greyhound operates bus routes to and from Elko, which is one of the towns along the Rubies Route. From Elko, you can arrange for local transportation, such as taxis or rental cars, to reach Wells and start your journey.


By Train: Another unique way to reach the Rubies Route is by train. Amtrak’s California Zephyr route stops in Elko, making it a scenic and leisurely option for travelers. From Elko, you can rent a car or arrange for local transportation to begin your road trip.


Whichever mode of transportation you choose, it’s important to plan ahead and make any necessary reservations. Ensure that you have a reliable GPS device or map to navigate the route, as some areas may have limited cellular reception. It’s also a good idea to have a backup plan in case of any unforeseen circumstances.


Once you’ve reached the starting point in Wells, you’ll embark on a journey filled with breathtaking landscapes, captivating towns, and adventurous activities. Take your time to soak in the beauty of the Ruby Mountains and explore the attractions along the route, making memories to last a lifetime.


Attractions Along the Rubies Route

The Nevada’s Rubies Route is filled with an array of attractions that will leave you awe-inspired and immersed in the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the region. From stunning outdoor landscapes to historical sites, here are some of the must-visit attractions along the route:


1. Lamoille Canyon: Known as the “Nevada’s Yosemite,” Lamoille Canyon is a gem along the Rubies Route. This picturesque canyon offers stunning vistas of towering cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and vibrant wildflowers. Explore the numerous hiking trails that range from easy strolls to more challenging treks, and don’t forget to have a picnic by the serene streams.


2. Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge: Located near the town of Ruby Valley, this wildlife refuge is a paradise for birdwatchers and nature lovers. Marvel at the diverse bird species that call this area home, including sandhill cranes and ducks. Take a leisurely stroll along the refuge’s trails and enjoy the tranquil beauty of the wetlands and marshes.


3. Western Folklife Center: Head to Elko to experience the cowboy culture of northeastern Nevada at the Western Folklife Center. This center showcases traditional western music, arts and crafts, and cowboy poetry. Immerse yourself in the rich heritage of the region through exhibits, live performances, and workshops.


4. California Trail Interpretive Center: Learn about the history of the California Trail and the pioneers who traversed this historic route at the California Trail Interpretive Center in Elko. Interactive exhibits, multimedia displays, and guided tours provide a captivating insight into the hardships and triumphs of the early settlers.


5. Wells City Park: Enjoy a peaceful break in the town of Wells at the Wells City Park. This charming park is perfect for a picnic or a leisurely stroll. Admire the beautiful landscaping, play some recreational games, or simply relax in the serene ambiance of this community park.


These are just a few of the many attractions along the Rubies Route. Be sure to take your time, explore the surrounding areas, and embrace the natural and cultural wonders that await you at every turn. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a history buff, or simply seeking a tranquil escape, the Rubies Route offers something for everyone.


Outdoor Activities

The Nevada’s Rubies Route is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a wide range of activities that allow you to immerse yourself in the stunning natural landscapes of the Ruby Mountains and its surrounding areas. Here are some of the top outdoor activities to enjoy along the Route:


1. Hiking and Backpacking: Lace up your boots and hit the trails in the Ruby Mountains Wilderness. With a network of scenic trails of varying difficulties, hikers and backpackers can explore the rugged beauty of the mountains. The Angel Lake Trail, Liberty Lake Trail, and Lamoille Lake Trail are popular choices, offering breathtaking views and opportunities for wildlife spotting.


2. Fishing and Boating: The lakes and streams along the Rubies Route provide excellent fishing opportunities. Cast your line into the clear waters and try your luck at catching trout or other native fish species. Ruby Lake, Angel Lake, and Lamoille Creek are well-known fishing spots. If you prefer a more leisurely experience, rent a boat and enjoy a peaceful day on the water.


3. Wildlife Viewing: The Ruby Mountains are home to a diverse array of wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep, and numerous bird species as you explore the area. Wildlife viewing platforms and designated areas offer prime opportunities for observing and photographing these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.


4. Camping: Set up camp amidst the scenic beauty of the Ruby Mountains and enjoy a night under the stars. There are several campgrounds along the route, including Angel Lake Campground, Thomas Canyon Campground, and Lamoille Canyon Campground. Fall asleep to the soothing sounds of nature and wake up to breathtaking mountain views.


5. Scenic Drives: If you prefer a more relaxed outdoor experience, take a leisurely drive along the Rubies Route. The Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway is a highlight, offering stunning views of cliffs, waterfalls, and alpine meadows from the comfort of your car. Be sure to stop at the designated viewpoints and soak in the beauty of the surroundings.


These are just a few of the outdoor activities that await you along the Nevada’s Rubies Route. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a chance to connect with nature, this road trip offers endless opportunities to make lifelong memories in the great outdoors.


Wildlife and Nature

The Nevada’s Rubies Route is a treasure trove of wildlife and natural beauty, showcasing the diverse ecosystems and species that call the Ruby Mountains and its surroundings home. From majestic mammals to rare bird species, here’s a glimpse into the wildlife and nature you can encounter along the route:


1. Mammals: The Ruby Mountains are home to a variety of mammal species. Keep an eye out for majestic mule deer grazing in the meadows, elusive mountain lions stalking their prey, and bighorn sheep gracefully navigating steep cliffs. You may also spot coyotes, badgers, and numerous smaller mammals as you explore the area.


2. Birds: The Ruby Mountains and the nearby wetlands provide important habitats for a wide range of bird species. Birdwatchers will have the opportunity to spot sandhill cranes, yellow warblers, white-faced ibises, and a variety of waterfowl species. The Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge is particularly popular for birdwatching, offering prime opportunities to glimpse rare and migratory bird species.


3. Flora: The Ruby Mountains are characterized by diverse plant life, including alpine meadows, aspen groves, and wildflower fields. Depending on the time of year, you can marvel at the vibrant colors of lupines, Indian paintbrushes, and columbines that carpet the hillsides. The lush forests are dominated by pine, fir, and spruce trees, adding to the beauty and serenity of the landscape.


4. Geological Features: The Ruby Mountains boast impressive geological formations, including towering cliffs, steep canyons, and glacially carved valleys. As you traverse the route, take note of the unique rock formations, sparkling lakes, and cascading waterfalls. The Lamoille Canyon, often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of Nevada,” is a stunning example of the region’s geological beauty.


5. Wildflowers: Spring and summer bring a vibrant display of wildflowers to the meadows and slopes of the Ruby Mountains. Take a leisurely hike and witness the blankets of colorful blooms, including lupines, fireweed, yarrow, and penstemon. The wildflower season is a treat for both nature lovers and photographers, providing ample opportunities to capture the stunning beauty of the landscape.


It’s important to remember that the wildlife and natural areas along the Rubies Route are protected. As responsible visitors, we should follow ethical guidelines, such as keeping a respectful distance from wildlife, not disturbing habitats, and leaving no trace behind. By engaging in responsible ecotourism practices, we can preserve these precious resources for generations to come.


Historical and Cultural Sites

Aside from its natural wonders, the Nevada’s Rubies Route is also rich in history and culture, with several sites that provide a glimpse into the region’s past. From museums to cultural centers, here are some of the notable historical and cultural sites worth exploring along the route:


1. California Trail Interpretive Center: Located in Elko, the California Trail Interpretive Center is a must-visit for history enthusiasts. Learn about the challenges faced by pioneers as they traveled westward along the California Trail. Interactive exhibits, artifacts, and guided tours offer a comprehensive understanding of the hardships and triumphs of the early settlers.


2. Northeastern Nevada Museum: Discover the fascinating history of northeastern Nevada at the Northeastern Nevada Museum in Elko. This museum showcases a diverse collection of artifacts and exhibits, including Native American artifacts, mining memorabilia, and displays on the area’s geology and wildlife. Take a guided tour or explore at your own pace to gain insight into the cultural heritage of the region.


3. Western Folklife Center: Immerse yourself in the cowboy culture of northeastern Nevada at the Western Folklife Center in Elko. This cultural center celebrates and showcases the traditions and arts of the American West. Attend live performances, concerts, and workshops, or explore the exhibits that highlight Western music, art, and cowboy poetry.


4. Ghost Towns: Along the Rubies Route, you’ll find remnants of once-thriving mining towns that have now become ghost towns. Places like Deeth, Jiggs, and Ruby Valley offer a glimpse into the region’s mining history. Take a leisurely drive or hike through these abandoned towns and imagine life in the heyday of the mining era.


5. Cowboy Poetry Gatherings: If you’re lucky, your visit may coincide with one of the many cowboy poetry gatherings held in towns along the Rubies Route. These events celebrate the cowboy way of life through poetry, music, and storytelling. Attend performances by talented cowboys and cowgirls who share their unique perspectives on ranch life and the American West.


By exploring these historical and cultural sites along the Rubies Route, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the rich heritage of northeastern Nevada. Be sure to check the operating hours and availability of guided tours when planning your visit to make the most of these valuable cultural experiences.


Dining and Accommodation Options

While embarking on the Nevada’s Rubies Route, you’ll find a range of dining and accommodation options to suit different preferences and budgets. From cozy bed and breakfasts to rustic campgrounds, here are some suggestions to enhance your road trip experience:




1. Hotels and Motels: Along the Rubies Route, you’ll find a selection of hotels and motels in towns such as Wells, Elko, and Spring Creek. These accommodations offer comfortable rooms, amenities such as Wi-Fi and parking, and convenient access to the attractions along the route.


2. Bed and Breakfasts: For a more intimate and cozy experience, consider staying at a bed and breakfast in the charming towns along the Rubies Route. These accommodations often provide personalized service, comfortable rooms, and a delicious breakfast to start your day. Lamoille and Ruby Valley are particularly known for their bed and breakfast options.


3. Camping: Embrace the natural beauty of the Ruby Mountains by camping at one of the many campgrounds along the route. Lamoille Canyon Campground and Angel Lake Campground are popular choices, offering a peaceful and scenic camping experience amidst nature. Be sure to check the availability and make reservations in advance, especially during peak seasons.




1. Local Eateries: As you travel through the towns along the Rubies Route, take the opportunity to sample the local cuisine at restaurants and cafes. Indulge in hearty western fare, including steak and potatoes, at cozy diners or savor international flavors at family-run restaurants. Be sure to try some traditional western dishes, such as cowboy chili or mountain trout, for an authentic dining experience.


2. Picnic Areas: Make the most of the scenic surroundings by packing a picnic and enjoying a meal in nature. Many of the natural attractions along the route have designated picnic areas where you can relax and savor your food amidst stunning landscapes. Bring along some local produce, snacks, and refreshing beverages, and create your own memorable dining experience.


3. Food Trucks and Festivals: Keep an eye out for food trucks and local festivals that may be taking place along the Rubies Route. These offer a chance to taste delicious gourmet street food and discover unique culinary delights. Food festivals celebrate the local food culture, offering a diverse range of flavors and dishes to satisfy your taste buds.


Whichever accommodation and dining options you choose, be sure to plan ahead, especially during peak travel seasons, to secure your preferred choices. Explore the local cuisine, support local businesses, and savor the flavors of northeastern Nevada as you embark on your unforgettable journey along the Rubies Route.


Safety Tips and Precautions

While exploring the Nevada’s Rubies Route, it is important to prioritize your safety and take necessary precautions. Here are some valuable tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable road trip:


1. Weather Awareness: Keep track of weather conditions, especially if you plan to engage in outdoor activities. The weather in the Ruby Mountains can change quickly, so be prepared for sudden changes in temperature, storms, or high winds. Dress in layers, carry rain gear, and pack appropriate gear for the activities you plan to undertake.


2. Navigation and Communication: Make sure to have a reliable GPS device or map for navigation, as some areas along the route may have limited cellular reception. Familiarize yourself with the route in advance and inform someone about your travel plans and estimated time of arrival. In case of emergencies, it’s important to have a means of communication, such as a fully charged cell phone or a satellite phone.


3. Outdoor Safety: If you plan to engage in outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, or camping, be aware of potential hazards and follow safety guidelines. Carry essential safety equipment such as a first aid kit, extra water, and a flashlight. Follow trail markers, stay on designated paths, and be cautious of uneven terrain or slippery surfaces. Additionally, check for any advisories or restrictions regarding wildlife encounters, especially if you’re in bear country.


4. Wildlife Safety: Maintain a safe distance from wildlife and refrain from feeding or approaching them. Respect their natural habitat and observe from a distance using binoculars or a zoom lens for photography. Keep food and scented items properly stored to avoid attracting wildlife to your campsite or vehicle.


5. Road Safety: Observe speed limits, be cautious of sharp turns and narrow roads along the route. Keep your vehicle properly maintained and ensure you have a spare tire and necessary tools in case of a breakdown. It’s also advisable to have roadside assistance coverage or knowledge of nearby service stations.


6. Leave No Trace: Practice responsible tourism by leaving no trace of your visit. Pack out any trash, respect the environment, and follow the principles of Leave No Trace. Minimize your impact on the natural surroundings and respect the privacy of local residents.


7. Emergency Preparedness: Familiarize yourself with emergency contacts and services in the area. Be aware of the nearest medical facilities, emergency services, and contact information. In case of a medical emergency, follow proper protocols and seek immediate assistance.


By following these safety tips and being mindful of your surroundings, you can have a safe and memorable trip along the Nevada’s Rubies Route. Remember to plan ahead, stay informed, and make responsible choices to ensure a rewarding and enjoyable experience.


Useful Travel Tips

As you prepare for your journey along the Nevada’s Rubies Route, keep these useful travel tips in mind to make the most of your road trip:


1. Plan Ahead: Research and plan your itinerary in advance to ensure you don’t miss out on any must-visit attractions or activities. Consider the distances between each stop and allocate enough time to explore each destination thoroughly.


2. Dress Accordingly: Pack clothing that is suitable for the weather and outdoor activities along the route. Layering is key, as temperatures can vary throughout the day. Don’t forget essentials like comfortable hiking shoes, a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a reusable water bottle.


3. Stay Hydrated: It’s important to stay hydrated, especially in the arid climate of Nevada. Carry ample water with you during outdoor activities, and remember to drink regularly to avoid dehydration. Keep an eye out for refill stations at visitor centers or bring extra water bottles.


4. Capture Memories: Don’t forget your camera or smartphone to capture the stunning landscapes and wildlife encounters along the route. Take the time to soak in the beauty and capture memories that will last a lifetime.


5. Respect Wildlife and Nature: Treat the natural environment and wildlife with respect. Avoid disturbing plants and animals, observe from a safe distance, and follow any regulations or guidelines in place to protect the ecosystem.


6. Support Local Businesses: Patronize local restaurants, shops, and accommodations along the route to support the local economy. Try regional cuisine, purchase unique souvenirs, and engage with the local community to enrich your experience.


7. Be Mindful of Wildlife Encounters: If you encounter wildlife, maintain a safe distance and do not approach or feed them. Keep food properly stored and dispose of any waste responsibly to prevent attracting wildlife to your campsite or vehicle.


8. Stay Informed: Keep updated on weather conditions, road closures, and any advisories or regulations in the area. Check local resources, visitor centers, or online platforms for the latest information to plan your activities accordingly.


9. Embrace the Journey: The Nevada’s Rubies Route is not just about the destination but also the journey itself. Take the time to stop and admire the panoramic views, enjoy impromptu hikes or picnics, and embrace the serenity of the natural surroundings.


10. Leave No Trace: Practice Leave No Trace principles by leaving the environment as you found it. Dispose of waste properly, minimize your impact, and respect the wilderness for future generations to enjoy.


By following these travel tips, you’ll have a smooth and enjoyable experience exploring the Nevada’s Rubies Route. Embrace the beauty of the journey, connect with nature, and create lasting memories along this captivating road trip.



The Nevada’s Rubies Route is a remarkable road trip that takes you through the breathtaking landscapes of the Ruby Mountains in northeastern Nevada. From scenic mountain peaks to crystal clear lakes and vibrant meadows, this route offers a perfect blend of natural wonders, historical sites, and cultural experiences.


As you explore the route, you’ll be captivated by the rugged beauty of the Ruby Mountains and the charm of the towns along the way. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures like hiking, fishing, or wildlife spotting, or immersing yourself in the region’s history and culture, the Rubies Route has something for everyone.


From the serenity of Lamoille Canyon to the cultural treasures in Elko, each stop along the journey offers a unique and memorable experience. Discover the rich history of the area at the California Trail Interpretive Center and Northeastern Nevada Museum, or embrace the cowboy culture at the Western Folklife Center in Elko.


With a variety of accommodation options and local eateries to choose from, you can indulge in comfort and flavors as you immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Ruby Mountains. Whether you choose to stay in a cozy bed and breakfast or camp under the stars, the accommodations along the route offer a chance to rejuvenate and relax.


Remember to prioritize safety and respect the environment and wildlife during your journey. Plan ahead, be mindful of your surroundings, and follow responsible tourism practices to ensure a memorable and sustainable experience.


The Nevada’s Rubies Route promises an unforgettable adventure filled with awe-inspiring landscapes, cultural discoveries, and outdoor activities. So, hit the road and embark on this road trip to create lifelong memories and forge a deeper connection with the natural wonders and history of northeastern Nevada. Prepare to be captivated by the beauty that awaits along the Rubies Route.