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Although snowfall in Elko averages 42 inches per year, it generally melts quickly. That makes the little city of 17,000 an ideal base for exploring the wintertime delights of higher elevations close at hand. The most heralded of these cold weather adventures, heli-skiing in Nevada’s Ruby Mountains, has been called “the best-kept secret in North America.” Located 30 miles southeast of Elko, the Rubies’ peaks (ten of them soar more than 11,000 feet into the sky) are part of a range that is 60 miles long and nearly 12 miles wide. The price tag on a Ruby Mountain heli-skiing trip is high: more than $4,200 for a three-day package that includes ...

Although snowfall in Elko averages 42 inches per year, it generally melts quickly. That makes the little city of 17,000 an ideal base for exploring the wintertime delights of higher elevations close at hand. The most heralded of these cold weather adventures, heli-skiing in Nevada’s Ruby Mountains, has been called “the best-kept secret in North America.” Located 30 miles southeast of Elko, the Rubies’ peaks (ten of them soar more than 11,000 feet into the sky) are part of a range that is 60 miles long and nearly 12 miles wide. The price tag on a Ruby Mountain heli-skiing trip is high: more than $4,200 for a three-day package that includes deluxe lodge accommodations, gourmet meals and three days of some of the greatest powder skiing anywhere. For the less affluent, forest service roads and a wide expanse of public lands around Elko offer some of the finest snowmobiling to be found anywhere on the planet. In fact, Super Trax International calls it “one of the top ten Snowmobile Adventures in the world.” The road through picturesque Lamoille Canyon in the west-central portion of the Ruby range provides the most convenient access to snowmobile country from Elko. Farther afield regions that offer snow sports include Harrison Pass (42 miles from Elko), a mountainous area where trails overlook the Ruby Valley and Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge. The trails are varied enough to provide challenges for skiers of all levels. Another popular winter sports area is the 120-acre Wild Horse State Recreation Area (65 miles north on State Route 225), which often registers the lowest wintertime temperatures in the nation. In Elko, the major annual event during the winter is non-weather related. It's the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering that attracts participants and visitors from around the world.

Connie Emerson
About the Expert

Connie Emerson is the author of more than a dozen books, including The Cheapskate's Guide to Branson, Missouri and Eyewitness Top Ten Travel Guide – Las Vegas.

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Connie Emerson for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    December through February for skiers