Rarely seen beauty lies off the beaten path


Matt Hufman

Lamoille Canyon, about 20 miles south of Elko, offers an incredible drive with breath-taking scenery, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013.

Finding Nevada: Lamoille Canyon

Lamoille Canyon, about 20 miles south of Elko, offers an incredible drive with breath-taking scenery, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013. Launch slideshow »
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A view of Highway 278 as it heads toward Roberts Creek Mountain north of Eureka on Sept. 29, 2013.

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An old railroad track remains next to the current track in what used to be the town of Palisade, which is south of Carlin off of Highway 278. Palisade was a railroad town founded in the 1800s, but today it is a ghost town with few visible remains. The photo was taken on Sept. 29, 2013.

About a half-hour drive south of Elko is Lamoille Canyon, one of the “gotta go’s” that we’ve been told we “gotta go” to, and there’s a good reason to go.

A U.S. Forest Service plaque calls it “Nevada’s Yosemite,” and although it doesn’t have the striking granite walls of Yosemite Valley, it’s a striking place.

Glaciers carved out the ruggedly beautiful valley, which now features aspen trees, granite outcroppings and a creek. There’s plenty of green, and the colors in fall and spring attract tourists.

It is one of the special places in Nevada, a spot you wouldn’t expect to find in the desert.

There are, however, plenty of surprises in Nevada, particularly if you don’t mind going a few miles out of the way or heading down a dusty, unnamed road.

At the top of Lamoille Canyon, we met a great couple, Joe and Cricket, who were with their border collie, Belle, and they have made a point to seek out places off the beaten path. They provided a series of suggestions for us and their ideas are now on our “gotta go” list.

On this trip, we ate at the Star restaurant in Elko, famed for its family-style Basque cuisine, we went underground about 2,000 feet in a mine and we saw more than we could have expected.

From Lamoille Canyon, we went back through Elko to connect with Interstate 80 and headed west to Highway 278. It goes south from Carlin to Highway 50 west of Eureka. As we drove south, we went over rolling hills and past ranches with grazing cattle and farms of alfalfa. Snow-capped mountains appeared in the distance.

It was stunning. I mentioned to Mike that if we didn’t know better, we probably wouldn’t know we were still in Nevada.

“No,” Mike answered. “It’s not the Nevada we know.”


This is not the Nevada many people know, but the diversity of places and the unexpected things make this state fascinating.

And that was before we turned onto Highway 50 and went into Eureka or cut across the mountains and valleys on the way to Ely.

It was another beautiful ride, and filled with more unexpected sites.

As we came down the eastern side of the Pancake Summit, Mike put on the brakes — there was something in the road near the centerline. A coyote had found something to eat, and he didn’t want to share. He wouldn’t move as we came bearing down on him.

Mike honked the horn several times, and the coyote looked bothered before taking another nip at whatever remains were on the road. And then he sulked off to wait on the shoulder for us to pass.

You never know what you’ll see in Nevada, do you?

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