Video: Life In The Ruby Mountains

Nestled in the mountains of northeastern Nevada is a fantastic little ski resort that delivers an unbeatable experience for skiers and snowboarders looking for something completely different. As you would expect, Ruby Mountains provides visitors with a comfortable and inviting lodge, featuring some of the finest cooking around. But when guests leave the lodge behind, the true adventure begins. That’s because Ruby uses helicopters to provide access to more than 200,000 acres of backcountry skiing, giving visitors the opportunity to shred miles of pristine and untouched powder. Better yet, they won’t have to share all of that terrain with anyone other than Ruby Mountains guests, which makes the entire experience an intimate and memorable affair.

The video below is a beautiful one, particularly for a promo. It gives us a great sense of what a stay at Ruby is all about, both in the lodge and out in the powder. The first half of the video will have you licking your lips over the delicious looking food and comfortable atmosphere, while the last portion will get your adrenaline pumping for some outdoor adventure. The snow conditions look absolutely spectacular.

If you’re a skier or snowboarder who has been just about everywhere else in North America, you’ll definitely want to put Ruby Mountains on you radar.

[Photo Credit: Ruby Mountains]

Life in the Ruby Mountains from Joseph Royer on Vimeo.

10 days, 10 states: Ruby Mountains, Nevada

-“Shine on, Ruby mountain, from the valley to the sea. Shine on, Ruby mountain, shine your sweet love down on me” -Kenny Rogers, Shine On, Ruby Mountain-

The first time I ever heard of Elko, Nevada was when I was eight years old. As a big-haired tot growing up on the island of Maui, a place where the weather page is nearly always stuck on “warm and tropical”, I was obsessed with the multicolored national weather page of lands far, far away.

During certain months of the year, I would notice on the national temperature map there was always this dark blue, maybe even violet circle hovering in the middle of Nevada–a place that looked eerily colder than the rest. Smack in the center of that cold, violet bubble was always a town I had not visited until today: Elko, Nevada.

As school got harder and life got faster, my fascination with the great blue blob of Elko, Nevada slowly faded away. That was until three months ago when I found myself at a California wedding in the company of a couple of ranchers from, where else, but Elko, Nevada.

“Elko, huh. Isn’t that the really cold place in Nevada?” I confidently slurred, the pour-your-own sangria bar having a noticeable effect on my social willingness to engage.

“Nah, last year it was only -18 at the coldest. I love Elko, though. I wouldn’t live anywhere else”, offered the rancher in his tightest pair of Wranglers.

“Wouldn’t ever leave Elko, eh? And why’s that?”

“Well we’ve got the Ruby Mountains“.

As a map obsessed child who could rattle off every world capital by the age of 3 sort of guy, I was taken aback at the prospect of there being an American mountain range with which I was unfamiliar.

The Ruby Mountains.

As the wedding ended and the weeks wore on, I did what any self-respecting travel blogger would do and I Google searched them. Even after some research, I simply couldn’t shake the allure of these mystery mountains in the middle of the cold dark blob.

%Gallery-138739%Striking out on the road for 10 days, 10 states, 10 great American sights, I finally decided I would go and pay a visit to these Elko mountains of lore and drive from Lake Tahoe, California into the high desert hills of northeastern Nevada.

80 miles long by 12 miles wide, the Rubies I found out are known as “The Swiss Alps of Nevada”. As I stand in the glacial confines of Lamoille Canyon, a 12 mile scenic byway that cuts a deep wedge into the mountain range, it isn’t hard to see why.

The white, snowy peak of 11,327 ft. Ruby Dome stands in stark contrast to the yellows of the fall leaves dancing amongst the canyon. Numerous hiking trails depart from the canyon road and connect back in the mountains with larger treks such as the 43-mile Ruby Crest Trail. Though the mountains are reputed to be rife with wildlife ranging from mountain goat to bighorn ram, the only creatures I encounter on my foray up the canyon are a herd of deer bounding through the autumn chill.

As an early season snowfall has brought plenty of the powder to the upper peaks, I am relegated to wandering the empty streams of the lower elevations of the canyon. Though comparable in beauty to the forested trails of my last stop on the trip, Lake Tahoe, I find that I have this trail refreshingly all to myself.

With the onset of winter I imagine that these mountains are going to be fairly empty and sleepy while the cold blue temperature blob parks itself over Elko for the winter.

Empty, undoubtedly, but as I would come to find out, these mountains are anything but sleepy, even in the depths of winter. Although there are no chairlifts and exactly zero ski resorts, who would have guessed that the Ruby Mountains are one of the premier places in the western US for the extreme sport of heli-skiing.

That’s right. Heli-skiing. In the Great Basin of Nevada. With an entire range of peaks that top out over 11,000 feet, that makes the Rubies higher than any groomed run found in all of Lake Tahoe.

As is typical of finding myself in a new place, I am struck with the overwhelming urge to suddenly do everything these mountains have to offer; I am drunk on the adrenaline fueled urge to mountain bike, to rappel, and to hunt, which is strange because I don’t actually hunt.

As is the case with a 10-day road trip across the country, however, my mobility does not afford me the time to linger. For this reason if I bump into you on the street and you ask me where I’m headed next, I’d say that I’d love to go back to Elko, Nevada?


Because it has the Ruby Mountains.

Follow Kyle on the rest of his journey as he explores “10 days, 10 states, 10 great American sights”.

5 great spring break ski destinations

With spring break just around the corner, many of you are no doubt looking for one last blast of winter fun before the warmer temps set in. With that in mind, here are five great ski destinations that will make your spring break a memorable one.

Big Sky Resort, Montana
Big Sky bills itself as the “Biggest Skiing in America,” and for good reason. With over 150 runs to choose from, the longest of which is 6 miles in length, you’ll never run out of mountain to explore. And thanks to a strategic partnership with nearby Moonlight Basin, visitors have more than 5000 skiable acres to shred. The resort is so large in fact, that you’ll rarely have to wait in line for one of the 22 chair lifts and once you do get to the top of the slope, you may not encounter another skier until you get back to the bottom again. Throw in dramatic Montana skyline, a host of other on site activities, and over 400 inches of snow per year, and you have a skiers paradise to say the least. Complete your Big Sky experience with a Yeti Dog and thank me later.

Whiteface Ski Resort, New York
East coasters who can’t make it out west this year have plenty of options for hitting the slopes as well. Whiteface Ski Resort, located in upstate New York, is the perfect example. With 22 miles of trail, spread out over 86 runs, Whiteface truly has something for everyone. The mountain even boasts 3430 feet of continuous vertical drop, which is not only the most of any resort in the east, it is also more than Aspen, Vail, or Park City. Surrounded by the spectacular Adirondack Forest, the trails offer a remote solitude, but when you’re ready for some fun off the slopes, nearby Lake Placid has plenty of bars, restaurants, and shops to keep you busy too.

Mammoth Mountain, California
Skiers and snowboarders on the left coast will no doubt already be well aware of Mammoth Mountain, a fantastic destination for everyone from beginners to experts. Located in eastern California, in the Sierra Nevada range, Mammoth offers up 3500 skiable acres that are covered in more than 340 inches of snow on an annual basis. Of the 150 or so runs available, about a quarter are rated for beginners, while a third of the remaining trails are rated as a Black Diamond or greater. The place is a popular destination for the snowboard crowd as well, thanks to its 18-foot Super Pipe and 22-foot Super Duper Pipe. Known for its long season, (the resort was one open for an astounding 10 months in a row!) Mammoth is likely to have great conditions not just for Spring Break, but for weeks to come as well.

Sun Valley, Idaho
Sun Valley Lodge, located in north-central Idaho, has been a top ski destination since it opened all the way back in 1936. At the center of the ski and snowboarding culture that has developed there is Bald Mountain, or “Baldy” as it is affectionately known. Baldy offers 3400 feet of vertical drop, with an excellent consistency to the terrain, that has made it a favorite for skiers from around the globe. It also offers some of the finest powder you’ll find anywhere and miles of trails with few crowds to contend with. Throw in a great freestyle park and a Super Pipe for the snowboarders, and you have an amazing destination that will keep everyone happy.

Ruby Mountains, Nevada
For a completely different skiing experience, consider going to the Ruby Mountains, located in northeastern Nevada. There you’ll find Ruby Mountain Heli-Experience, a company that specializes in offering heli-skiing opportunities in the pristine backcountry. Unlike the resort options listed above, you won’t find any groomed trails or ski lifts here, just 200,000 acres of fantastic powder that is only accessible by helicopter. You don’t have to be a world class skier or snowboarder to enjoy the Ruby Mountain experience either, as you can choose to take on long, slow, shallow bowls or adrenaline inducing slopes that will have your heart pounding out of your chest. At the end of the day, you’ll return to the lodge for an amazing home cooked meal that will be the perfect end to a perfect day.

The calendar may say that it is turning spring in just a few weeks, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have just a little more winter fun. Enjoy one last blast on the slopes before putting the skis and snowboard away for one more season.

Go heliskiing in Nevada

For many skiers and snowboarders, a heliskiing trip is at the top of their list of “must do” adventures. By hopping a flight on a helicopter, they gain access to pristine backcountry snow and slopes of untouched powder. Better yet, these locations are usually miles away from crowded lift lines and busy lodges, allowing skiers to enjoy a mountain all to themselves.

Heliskiing has become a popular activity around the globe, with numerous options in the U.S., Canada, Iceland, New Zealand, Europe and beyond. But one place you probably wouldn’t expect to find a heliskiing operation is in Nevada. But way up in the northeast corner of the state are the Ruby Mountains, which are often overlooked as a destination for winter fun.

For 34 years Ruby Mountain Heli-Experience has been offering customers access to an amazing winter wonderland that can only be reached by helicopter. They have over 200,000 acres of wilderness at their disposal, which allows them to meet the needs of skiers or snowboarders of any skill level. The Ruby Mountain setting has everything from gentle, wide bowls to steep, fast drops for the real thrill seekers.

At the end of the day, after a spectacular experience in the snow, you’ll return to the lodge where yet another surprise awaits visitors. Ruby Mountain delivers some fantastic gourmet cuisine for their guests, which simply rounds out an already fantastic experience.

Ruby Mountain Heli-Experience is one of the most accessible and affordable heli-skiing option in the lower-48 states and an unforgettable experience for adventure travelers. With the winter season just about to begin, its time to start planning your next snow adventure.

[Photo credit: Ruby Mountain Heli-Experience]

Ruby Mountain Heli Experience Highlights 2010 from Joseph Royer on Vimeo.