Most people form their impression of the state of Nevada driving along Interstate 80. From there, Nevada appears to be a desolate landscape of nothing but sand and rocks. Most people don’t want to return, let alone explore further. Nevadans, however, appreciate this. It allows them to enjoy all the hidden gems their state offers without the crowds. Contrary to popular belief, Nevada is actually a mountainous state. Were you aware that Nevada has more named mountain ranges than any other state in the Union? Here are just a few of the interesting places.

Ruby Mountains

I stumbled upon the Ruby Mountains and the surrounding areas during the peak of the COVID lockdowns. While most people remained indoors, I traveled. Then Linda Sun, who had recently moved to the Reno area, said she would like to hike the Ruby Crest trail. We thought three days and two nights would be sufficient, but we didn’t anticipate that June still resembled winter in the Ruby Mountains. A storm caught up with us on day two, and day three felt more like midwinter than any other place in June.

A female hiker stands captivated, gazing upon a picturesque landscape: a serene lake nestled within a valley, its tranquil waters reflecting the surrounding snow-dusted peaks.

Linda Sun watching the picturesque landscape of lake hidden within a valley, its waters reflecting the surrounding snow capped peaks, Liberty Lake, Ruby Crest Trail, Nevada

I came back with Cesca in August and I hiked back to the Ruby Crest to take a picture of the same area. What a difference. Even in August the Elko area was still quite comfortable.

Man, hiker, standing, watching a scene of an alpine lake and rugged mountains with trees, rocks, and puffy clouds in the blue sky

Watching a scene of an alpine lake and rugged mountains, Liberty Lake, Ruby Mountain Range, Nevada.

Zunino/Jiggs Reservoir

Jiggs Reservoir is a local magnet for fishing and water sport. I initially discovered this spot when the campgrounds higher up the mountain remained closed due to snow. Luckily, I stumbled upon a campground offering stunning views and ample shade from large cottonwood trees. The Elko region serves as a vital migration route for both birds and land animals. While most utilize the wetlands and green spaces of the Ruby Valley area to the east of the Ruby Mountains, some also frequent the west side, where Jiggs and South Fork reservoirs offer similar habitats.

Red Rock, Lovel Canyon

While everyone knows about Las Vegas gambling and nightlife, few realize that just 20 minutes from the Strip there is a hidden gem: Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. This scenic wonderland  of rugged rock formations is favorite with rock climbers and the background mountain range offers plenty of hiking trails. La Madre Mountain Wilderness and Rainbow Mountain Wilderness protects the area from urban development, preserving its natural beauty for all to enjoy.

The Wave at the Valley of Fire

Similar to its more famous cousin at Coyote Buttes, the Wave is also formed when water gradually erodes through layers of stratified rock, each displaying different colors. These variations in color occur due to different conditions at the time the sediments accumulate, resulting in distinct lines. As water erodes the rock perpendicular to these layers, it exposes them, creating the wave-like formations.

While one needs to win a lottery (literally) to obtain a permit to enter and see the Wave at Coyote Buttes, the Wave in the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada is open to all to visit.

Striation of rock in dark and light shades of red

Rock striations in dark and light shades of red sand stone, The Wave, Valley of Fire State Park


Jarbidge is encircled by high mountains, with no paved roads within 17 miles, leading to claims that it’s the most remote city in the lower 48. Its location in far northern Nevada also makes it easier to reach from Idaho to the north than from Elko. Surrounded by vast wilderness, it’s a paradise for outdoor activities like off-road driving, fishing, and hiking. The city’s character is maintained by its old historic homes. When the Model T club from Reno made a stop in Jarbidge, it fit right in.

Old Ford Model A vehicles next to the old hotel building, Jarbidge, Nevada

Old Ford Model A vehicles fit right in next to the old hotel building, Jarbidge, Nevada

The 55-mile of mostly unpaved road from Elko, Nevada, is impassable from November to July due to heavy snow lingering. I chose to tow my travel trailer from the easier road from Rogerson, Idaho. However, not only were the last 17 miles unpaved, but I also had to navigate the narrow, single-lane Salmon Falls Dam.

The Easy Road to Jarbidge

This is the easy road to Jarbidge. It is paved except for the last 17 miles and there is only one steep section

No, this is not my travel trailer, and also it is not in Nevada. It is the road to Jarbidge starting from Rogerson Idaho. However, just a few days earlier, I negotiated the damaged guardrails narrow single-lane Salmon Falls Dam myself with my own oversize trailer. Except, it would have been difficult to drive the vehicle and take pictures from the shoreline at the same time.

A large travel trailer negotiating a narrow road over an arch dam

Damaged guardrails add anxiety to driving a large vehicle across the single-lane narrow road over the Salmon Falls Dam, Twin Falls, Idaho.

Ward Charcoal Ovens

Another hidden gem in Nevada near Ely is the Ward Charcoal Ovens. I explored the area on my way to climb Wheeler Peak, the highest peak entirely within the state of Nevada. While Boundary Peak is higher, it is a sub-peak of the taller Montgomery Peak, located across the border in California. The beehive-shaped charcoal ovens at the site were constructed in the 19th century to supply fuel for processing the rich silver ore discovered nearby. These ovens converted timber from juniper and mahogany trees in the nearby forest into charcoal, which was more efficient than using straight wood. Today, the area is a state park.