Lamoille Canyon 

Story and photos by Sara Hall

Nestled in the northeast corner of Nevada, surrounded by the Great Basin Desert, is a pleasant surprise – The Ruby Mountains.

Part of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, the Ruby Mountains area covers more than 90,000 acres. Sometimes called “Nevada’s Yosemite” or the “Swiss Alps of Nevada,” the range includes 10 peaks above 10,000 feet. The highest is Ruby Dome at 11,387 feet. 

The centerpiece at the heart of the Rubies is Lamoille Canyon. A 12-mile paved scenic drive winds its way through the glacier-carved canyon. There are plenty of places to pull over and admire the impressive landscape or explore the beaver ponds along Lamoille Creek. There are several campgrounds and some secluded spots to boondock camp.

The road dead-ends at about 8,800 feet at the Roads End Trailhead. From there, trails lead to Island Lake, Lamoille Lake or the Dollar Lakes. Hikers looking for a longer adventure can tackle the wilderness area’s only thru-hike, the 35-mile Ruby Crest Trail, which leads to a number of other backcountry trails. 

There’s no shortage of natural beauty with the wildflowers, alpine lakes and canyon creeks – a rare treat in the arid state. Trees include whitebark pines, quaking aspen and even some bristlecone pines that have survived for thousands of years. In winter, the area attracts snowboarders, skiers, snowshoers and snowmobilers (in certain areas in the canyon).

Named after the sparkling red garnets found here during the Gold Rush days, the Ruby Mountains are a gem in the American West.