These mountains are often called the “Yosemite” of Nevada.


It’s considered Nevada’s most beautiful mountain range, and its canyon landscape is eerily similar to Yosemite.

Think Nevada: what comes to mind? For most people, it’s the idea of ​​a somewhat arid desert landscape, red rocks riddled with tumbleweeds and, in the middle of it all, the bustling Las Vegas Strip. There might be an abandoned ghost town here and there, leaving nods to the Wild West, or even a lake or two. For the most part, however, many people don’t think of green canyons and mountain roads.

Unless, of course, they cross the Lamoille Canyon and the Ruby Mountains.

Not far from the borders of Utah and Idaho, and a seeming world away from the bright lights of Las Vegas, lies this unique landscape. It’s the one that earned the nickname “Yosemite of Nevada,” and for good reason.

Exploring Nevada’s Yosemite, the Lamoille Canyon

For starters, Nevada’s mostly desert landscape doesn’t quite fit the same description as Yosemite. Not only does Yosemite have flowing rivers and towering waterfalls, but it’s also home to geysers, hot spring pools, and forested valley hikes. At first glance, it would seem Nevada’s mountainous landscape is the only thing it has in common with Yosemite – but a single drive through the Ruby Mountains would prove that to be incorrect.

With the elevation of this mountain range, the land surrounding the Lamoille Canyon receives more precipitation than the rest of the state. This incredible landscape rises a total of 11,387 feet at its highest point on the summit of the Ruby Dome, the average height of the mountain range being approximately 5,000 feet above sea level. This means that the Ruby Mountains are home to a wide range of alpine landscapes, as They were once part of glaciers that made up the Pleistocene In the region. These ancient glaciers left behind glacial features that, if looked closely enough, closely resemble the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

  • Made: The Ruby Mountains are composed of granitic (metamorphic) rock which contrasts sharply with the volcanic rock sediments that make up the other mountain ranges in the state.

Since the Ruby Mountains were carved by glaciers millions of years ago, visitors can find features such as alpine lakes, streams, and an abundance of canyon forests. Due to the unique landscape of the Ruby Mountains, skiers and snowboarders come from all over the western United States to experience its 300 inches powdery snow. Believe it – this unique Nevada destination exists and it’s probably one of the most unique parks in the state.

Drive through the Ruby Mountains

According to Driving in Nevada, the appearance of the Ruby Mountains is often compared to that of the Swiss Alps. While that’s high praise coming from one of the most visited alpine peaks in the world, it wouldn’t be too far off. A 45-minute drive along the Lamoille Canyon Scenic Drive provides access to a multitude of activities, the most popular being hiking. However, visitors to these mountains won’t even need to leave their cars to get incredible views of the range.

  • Directions: Starting at Nevada State Route 227 south of Elko, travel approximately 19 miles before arriving at the Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway. This takes drivers through a pass in the mountain range before bringing them to a road loop at the base of Ruby Dome. Just ahead is the Ruby Mountains Wilderness.

Related: Discover the original settlements on the shores of this ancient Nevada lake

Hike through Lamoille Canyon and the Ruby Mountains

Driving along the Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway, hikers will notice signs pointing to several campgrounds along the way. For those looking to spend more than a day in the Ruby Mountains Wilderness, this is a great option to explore the region in its entirety. For hikers looking for a day trip, they can keep going until they find the trailhead for the Ruby Ridge Trail at the end of the road. This trail runs the entire range including Freedom passthe head of the Lamoille Canyonand continuing another 38 miles to Col Harrison.

On the main trail, hikers will see Lamoille, Dollar and Liberty lakes. For hikers who take the trail crossing the road to island lakethey’ll be treated to a two-mile hike to a glacial tarn that sits in a scenic hanging valley.

For those interested in fishing, any of the lakes (arguably Liberty is the best) will suit tiger trout and speckled trout. However, for those who don’t want to hike, there are beaver ponds at the end of the Lamoille Canyon Scenic Drive which are also great for fishing. Other recreational activities in Lamoille Canyon include horseback riding in the summer, picnicking, wildlife viewing, and nature photography.

The Ruby Mountains are a true Nevada gem for those looking for some greenery in its desert landscape. With so much to see in and around the Lamoille Canyon, it is best to plan several days to fully explore its magnificent landscapes!

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