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50 Classic Hikes in Nevada
Nevada boasts some of the most diverse and beautiful landscapes in North America and is rich in trails that embrace the state’s scenic, geologic, and historic resources.    

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Ruby Valley Scenic Drive

The Ruby Valley
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The Ruby Valley Scenic Drive is a eighty-seven mile remote drive through the beautiful Ruby Valley of Nevada. Along the way, the drive closely parallels the towering and snow-capped peaks of the Ruby Mountains. The drive also passes through the Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge, which provides excellent wildlife viewing along with some fishing and hiking [see map of the Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge].

The Ruby Valley Scenic Drive follows the Ruby Valley Road. This road is primarily an all-weather gravel road, but the southern twenty miles or so (the portion just north of Highway 50), is paved. The gravel portion of the road is generally in excellent condition, allowing for quick and easy travel. That said, the traveler needs to know that the road can be incredibly dusty when conditions are dry - along with being washboardy in spots or late in the season.

One reason I like this scenic drive is due to the diversity of terrain. Beginning at the southern end of the drive (at Highway 50 to the west of Ely), the drive passes through the empty Long Valley. Here, the valley itself is open desert while the hills and small mountains that surround it are are moderately forested, providing a nice contrast.

The Ruby Mountains
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As the traveler continues to head north, the views gets more interesting. The drive skirts an active gold mining operation at Bald Mountain, while the dominating peaks of the Ruby Mountains - which are visible from near the beginning of the drive - continue to loom ever larger.

After forty miles, the drive reaches the Ruby Valley. The view from the southern edge of the Ruby Valley is gorgeous, with the sprawling Ruby Valley and Ruby Marsh lying alongside the steep, snowy peaks of the Ruby Mountains. The Humboldt Mountains also rise far, far away in the distance, too.

Once the road reaches the Ruby Valley, the road runs in-between the Ruby Mountains and Ruby Marsh for over twenty miles - providing a wonderful contrast in views and terrain. This section of the drive is also excellent for wildlife viewing, especially waterfowl.

After sixty miles, the Ruby Valley Road reaches a junction with another road that leads to Harrison Pass. Harrison Pass is a "cut-over" from the Ruby Valley to the Lamoille Valley and Elko. The road is in fair condition, although steep in spots. The road over Harrison Pass is also closed in the winter.

Beyond this junction, the Ruby Valley Scenic Drive continues for another twenty miles, skirting the small town of Ruby Valley. The views are terrific and the drive is relaxing.

The Ruby Valley Scenic Drive has little in the way of traffic. What little traffic exists will be found between Highway 229 (northern terminus of the drive) and the Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge. To the south of the refuge, traffic is light to non-existent, with most of the traffic coming from the nearby mining operations.

Overall, the Ruby Valley Scenic Drive is a beautiful and remote drive. If a traveler is heading toward Ely from either Wells or Elko, the Ruby Valley Scenic Drive is a worthwhile detour.

Quick Facts About the Ruby Valley Scenic Drive

  • Trip Length : 87 miles, one-way
  • Road Type - The road is primarily a good-conditioned gravel. About twenty miles of the road are paved at the very southern end of the drive, near Highway 50. The gravel portion of the road allows for fast driving, but, the road can be washboarded at times and is usually very dusty.
  • RV's / Campers? - Yes.
  • Services Available - Gas and supplies can be found in Wells, Ely and Elko.
  • General Location - Northeast Nevada, between Elko/Wells and Ely.
  • Camping - Camping isn't allowed in the Ruby Lake National Wildlife itself (see map of refuge). However, a designated National Forest campground is found just a few miles south of the Wildlife Refuge Headquarters. Moreover, there is plenty of "unofficial" primitive camp sites on forest service and BLM lands that ring the refuge. In short, there is no shortage of spots to camp.

Photos of the Ruby Valley Scenic Drive

Ruby Lake and the Ruby Mountains Old Cabin in the Ruby Valley The Ruby Mountains

More Photographs of the Ruby Valley Scenic Drive

Map of Ruby Valley Scenic Drive

Suggested Books

Benchmark Nevada Road & Recreation Atlas : This topographic map book shows ALL roads in Nevada. This book is a mandatory requirement if you'll be venturing off the main highways shown on the tourist map. Additionally, this book shows many historical sites, points of interest and recreation areas.

More Info at Amazon

Where to Stay When Driving Through the Ruby Valley

The towns of Ely, Wells and Elko have plenty of relatively inexpensive hotel rooms available.

Lodging in Ely Lodging in Elko Lodging in Wells
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