We previously shared with you the first in a three-part series covering the ‘Cowboy Corridor’ road trip in Nevada, USA. We spoke of the route from Reno to Winnemucca, a 267-km-long road trip that covered many a grand spectacle. The next leg in the series is the scenic route from Winnemucca to Elko, a 200-km-long trip that is sure to get your adrenaline rushing.
While many Nevada destinations are currently closed, in the meantime, we urge you to bucket-list your way around the state! Let’s get started…
Battle Mountain: The first stop
From Winnemucca, continue east on Interstate 80 for about 45 minutes and you’ll hit the cryptically named Battle Mountain, a community of 3,635 people situated neither atop a mountain nor near the site of a battle. However, that’s not to say the town is totally explosion-free. What you will find: Roller Coaster Fireworks Outlet, a legendary Interstate 80 Nevada attraction founded by the Cassorla brothers. Also, don’t miss the amateur taxidermy — especially the chupacabra — and the fireworks mini “museum.” Here, you can count on walking in as a customer and leaving as a friend. Learn about the area’s history at the Battle Mountain Cookhouse Museum before hitting the trail again.
Elko: Legacy of the real-deal West
Founded in 1869 as a railroad town, Elko quickly assumed its role as the centre of the state’s cattle industry. Today, mining is Elko’s major enterprise, but cattle ranches and other legacies of the region’s cowboy and ranching past remain strong. Visit JM Capriola Co. to shop for (or simply admire) custom saddles, bridles, silver, leatherwork, and other exquisitely handmade gear. Then head a couple doors down to the Cowboy Arts and Gear Museum, where you can learn the Garcia Bit & Spur story, as well as appreciate the kind of top-notch handiwork that’s been sought worldwide by working cowboys, Hollywood stars, and collectors for over a century.
Cross the street and head into the Western Folklife Center, hosts of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, but also home to a gallery with international exhibits celebrating horseman and ranching cultures from around the world, a gift shop, the Pioneer Saloon, and year-round Western arts and cultural events, all located in the restored Pioneer Hotel.
As you explore this still-plenty-Western town, arguably the centrepiece of your journey from Reno to West Wendover, be sure to stop by the Northeastern Nevada Museum to discover the area’s local and natural history.
From the Northeastern Nevada Museum, travel about eight miles west of town on Interstate 80 for free admission to the California Trail Interpretive Center and get your fill of the stories of the quarter-million pioneers who endured the 2,000-mile trek from Missouri to California between 1841 to 1869—and the route that still defines Nevada’s history—in a series of hands-on exhibits.
‘Basque’ in some northern Nevada culture
Thanks to 19th-century Basque immigrants from Spain and France—many who took up sheepherding—Elko is still a major stomping ground for Basque culture and traditions. You can find plenty of them at the National Basque Festival in the form of music, dancing, woodchopping competitions, and savory Basque food waiting to be sampled and washed down with a picon punch or three.
The Ruby Mountains and beyond
Depending on the season, take in the beauty of the nearby Ruby Mountains by driving the Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway into a glacier-carved canyon known for its beautiful fall foliage and spring waterfalls. The Ruby Mountains are commonly referred to as the Alps of Nevada, widely known for their recreational opportunities like hiking, fishing, and even heli-skiing. It’s a 30-minute drive from Elko to the Ruby Mountains and the entrance of Lamoille Canyon, but many visitors opt to turn their exploration of this country into its own adventure.