NEVADA — The West never ceases to amaze. Among all its prize jewels, the Ruby Mountains hold their own with the best of them.
Located some five hours — or nearly 350 miles — east of Truckee, near Elko, the jagged, often snow-capped range stands out in stark contrast to the surrounding desert of northeastern Nevada.
Venture into the heart of the Rubies, up the right-hooking, glacier-gouged Lamoille Canyon, and a world of alpine splendor unfolds before the eyes. It’s been called Nevada’s Yosemite. And rightfully so.
The Rubies — the bulk of which are designated as the Ruby Mountains Wilderness — measure about 60 miles long and 10 miles wide. Packed into that land are towering peaks, 10 of which exceed 11,000 feet, divided by deep glacial canyons with hanging valleys and dozens of snow-fed lakes.
Fortunately for its visitors, roughly 300 miles of trails flow through the wilderness, highlighted by the roughly 33-mile Ruby Crest National Wilderness Trail along the spine of the range.
Less ambitious day hikers can experience some of the Rubies’ finest lakes and sky-scraping viewpoints just the same, as a 12-mile paved road leads travelers to several trailheads at road’s end in Lamoille Canyon.
The rock-bound terrain also features an abundance of wildlife, including mountain goats and bighorn sheep, as well as mountainsides of quaking aspen that glow from yellow to orange to eye-popping red in the fall.
For those with a hankering for adventure, Ruby Mountains Helicopter Experience offers 39,000 vertical feet of skiing or riding in a three-day tour, with ample big-mountain terrain and some of the driest powder around. Hikers and snowmobilers can access the countless array of steeps as well.
The irrefutable conclusion: The Rubies rock.