Lamoille, Nevada is a short 25-mile drive south of Elko in northeastern Nevada at the toe of the fabled Ruby Mountains and the mouth of glacier-carved, outdoor action-packed Lamoille Canyon. Come for the camping, hiking, fishing, and even heli-skiing. Stay for Lamoille’s slowed-down country vibes, awesome eats, and one-of-a-kind accommodations.
Lamoille, Nevada: Tiny Town with a Huge Backyard
Nested at the base of the Ruby Mountains at the end of northeastern Nevada’s State Route 227 (AKA the Lamoille Highway), the town of Lamoille, Nevada offers a mix of rural charm and outdoor adventure that’s hard to find anywhere—and hard to beat everywhere. The crown jewel of the Lamoille, NV area is the Ruby Mountains Wilderness. Often referred to as the “Swiss Alps of Nevada,” the Rubies boast 11,000’ peaks, picture-perfect hanging valleys, rushing creeks, and pristine lakes, which beckon outdoor recreationalists of every stripe, passion, and skill level in every season—especially in glacier-carved, 12-mile-long Lamoille Canyon.
After a day spent exploring the stunning Ruby Mountains, visitors can head back down Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway for a hearty meal, a comfortable stay, and a hard-earned beverage or three in the town of Lamoille itself, which easily steals the hearts of countless photographers and anyone looking to escape the bustle of city life.
History of Lamoille, NV
The Elko County town of Lamoille was first settled by John Walker and Thomas Waterman in 1865, who originally named the new community “Vermont” in honor of their home state. A few years later, Walker opened the Cottonwood Hotel, along with a blacksmithery, mercantile store, and saloon. By the 1880s, the town’s population had grown to more than 200 residents and was renamed Lamoille, after a landmark river in the state of Vermont.
Lamoille became an important regional stopover for wagon trains heading to California to replenish their supplies. In 1905, the town erected its first permanent church, Little Church of the Crossroads, which looks like something out of an old painting. In fact, today, this rural Nevada icon is one of the most photographed structures in the entire state.
While people have been visiting the nearby wilderness for generations—including plenty of Basque sheepherders, whose tree trunk doodles can still be seen adorning many aspen trees across the region—Congress designated the Ruby Mountains Wilderness in 1989. This was good news for the Royer family, who had launched a helicopter skiing outfit 12 years before—and who continue to run it, as Ruby Mountains Heli-Experience, to this very day.
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Things to Do in Lamoille
Today, the biggest draw in these parts is unquestionably Lamoille Canyon, the spectacular (and most easily accessible) centerpiece of the Ruby Mountains Wilderness that offers something for every level of adventurousness. Especially in the summertime. That’s when flowing streams, alpine lakes, aspen groves, and meadows bursting with wildflowers beckon hikers, cyclists, fishermen chasing (this is a dry flyers Shangri-La), Sunday drivers seeking the perfect picnic spot along Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway, and more. Come winter, the 12-mile road transforms into a snowmobile superhighway, both for locals and visitors opting to rent, as well as a staging ground for backcountry skiers looking to skin up the slopes and earn their turns back down.
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Speaking of backcountry skiing, there’s also an “express lane” to the top, and it’s called Ruby Mountains Heli-Experience. Since 1977, this family-run operation has whisked skiers to towering peaks, pristine bowls, white-knuckled chutes, and plenty of non-expert terrain, to boot, in a range that boasts some of the deepest and driest powder in the entire nation—generally under the instructive eye of expert local guides. Point is: if you’re into the fluffy stuff, the Rubies should be on your bucket list—those who know…really know.
Back down in “town,” things move at a little bit slower of a pace. Photographers delight in roaming the charming rural lanes, seeking pastoral scenes of period homes, ranchland vistas, and the iconic, wooden, 1905-built Little Church of the Crossroads. In drier months, motorists can slow-poke it past old ranches and the lush Humboldt River drainage lands that trace the foot of the Ruby Mountains, and either return back the way they came, head to Elko via NV-229 and I-80, or make a loop of it all back to Lamoille.
Where to Eat and Drink in Lamoille
Whether you’re looking to fuel up for the day’s adventures or recharge at the end of them, Lamoille’s got two solid dining options that are popular with visitors and Elko-area locals alike. O’Carroll’s Bar & Grill opens daily for breakfast to offer up AM classics like omelets, scrambles, steak ‘n’ eggs, and chicken fried steaks; for lunch and dinner, choose from beefy burgers, hot melts, chili, steaks, and Basque chorizo. About a minute’s walk down the street, the Pine Lodge Dinner House lives up to its name with juicy steaks and prime rib (topped with lobster tails or shrimp), salmon, soups, salads, and more—all with a rustic and authentic ambience.
Just down the road in Spring Creek, hit up the Mudd Hutt for coffee and espresso, Rolberto’s Mexican Food for south-of-the-border fare galore, Ruby Mountain Pizza Co. for cheesy pies of any size, or Muley’s Bar & Family Grill for satisfying pub grub and cold beers. If you’re looking to stock up on things to stuff in the cooler, Khoury’s Fresh Market has everything you need, along with plenty of the camping supplies you forgot to bring—or ran out of, because you didn’t want to leave quite yet. (We don’t blame you.)
Lodging in Lamoille, Nevada
For rustic rooms in the heart of it all, the 1907-built Hotel Lamoille offers three multi-room suites in the middle of “town”—just next door to the Pine Lodge and across from a shady park called the Grove. It’s open year-round, but be sure to call ahead; it’s popular for weddings and family gatherings. (If you go, you’ll find out why.)
On the other end of the spectrum, there’s the Ruby 360 Lodge—a modern, luxury accommodation that lives up to its name with unbeatable views of the Ruby Mountains and the surrounding valley from 10 guest rooms, plentiful balconies, a hot tub patio, and an outdoor game lawn. On-site dining, group packages, and guided adventures are all on offer, thanks to the folks at Ruby Mountains Heli-Experience, who run the lodge—a four-decade-long dream that the Royer family made real in 2017.
The same longtime Lamoille family outfitters also run two of our favorite Uncommon Overnighter options, in the form of some of the West’s most glamped-out yurts—both of which are outfitted with cozy beds, a fireplace, a propane stove, and even solar-powered Wi-Fi. The Conrad Creek Low Yurt is set against a babbling brook in a grove of aspens, with sprawling views of the valley below. Meanwhile, the Ruby High Yurt sits perched at nearly 10,000 feet on a tree-lined ridge with views for days and a luxed-up backcountry vibe that’s impossible to beat; the only catch is this: you’ve got to take a 2-to-4-hour hike (solo or guided) to get to it—or catch a lift with a helicopter. As for getting back down, depending on the season, you can hike or ski. (See what we mean?)
If you’re camping in a tent or a land yacht, head up Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway to Thomas Canyon Campground. Located at the confluence of Lamoille and Thomas Creeks and flanked by the deep canyons they’ve cut over millennia, the seasonally reservable campground offers 40 beautiful sites, spread out beneath groves of aspen and cottonwood trees—many on or within earshot of the rushing water.
Of course, if you’d rather ditch the crowds, hop on the Ruby Crest National Recreation Trail and pitch your tent at primitive sites near a number of alpine lakes, picturesque peaks, and wildflower-blanketed meadows. No permit is required. But if you plan to fish (and if you don’t, you’re missing out), make sure you purchase a license from NDOW. (Yes, they check. And, once you get there, you’ll see why a ranger would want this beat.)
Events in Lamoille
If Lamoille Canyon’s two-footed options are too “slow” for you, June’s Ruby Mountain Relay lets you speed things up. On the third weekend in June, runners flock to the Rubies for their choice of foot races, which range from five-person relays, half-marathons, full marathons, and even the Timberline Trail Ultra-Marathon. (If you’d rather use it as an opportunity to walk, you’ll find plenty of company on that front, too.)
For those who’d rather pedal in cleats than wear out their feet(s), the Ruby Roubaix: Gravel Fondo calls to cyclists with 20-, 36-, 62-, and 117-mile options that carry riders on and off pavement through some of the most spectacular scenery in Nevada. “Fondo” is the operative word here, meaning it’s up to each participant whether they want to make it a race or simply a scenic ride.