Nestled between three independent mountain ranges, Ely is a true hub for adventure in Eastern Nevada. All you need is five minutes of research online, and you’ll be wondering why this isn’t one of the fastest growing small towns in America. But if you aren’t quite ready to pull up your roots and move, start with a vacation instead. This three-day itinerary takes you through the best of White Pine County while leaving plenty to explore next time, too. Because we know you’ll be back.
This story was created in partnership with Visit Ely Nevada.
Explore Great Basin National Park
One of the most undiscovered parks in America, Great Basin National Park is a veritable gem in Eastern Nevada. And it’s only an hour away from Ely! Plus, 2022 marked the 100-year anniversary of Lehman Caves, located within the park. Take the majority of your first day to enjoy it all.
Aside from the limestone and marble caverns, Great Basin is crowned by 13,063-foot Wheeler Peak and boasts the oldest bristlecone pine trees found anywhere on Earth. Alpine aspen groves give way to juniper and sagebrush desert below. All together, this is an incredibly diverse destination for wilderness and geology enthusiasts—with literally a fraction of the crowds of more well-known parks.
Discover White Pine County’s Art Scene
After a day of natural wonder, experience White Pine County hospitality and culture that evening. If you have time, visit the East Ely Railroad Depot Museum or the Ely Art Bank. We also recommend a self-guided mural walk. Downtown Ely features more than 20 colorful murals: the depiction of Lehman Caves is especially fun after having been there in person! After your artistic exploration, there are a number of dining options in town that will satisfy all taste buds. As for lodging, a number of hotels and motels make getting a good night’s sleep a breeze.
OHV to a Ghost Town
Today, take advantage of Ely’s OHV-friendly attitude and explore by 4×4. Traveling internationally and couldn’t fit your quad on the plane? No problem. Visitors can rent from outfitters in town. The most unique part about OHV recreation in Ely is that you can access the trails right from town. Access the trail map here. Make a day out of it and visit Success Loop, Hamilton, Ward Mountain, or White River—several of which are ghost towns. Remember to stick to designated off-road areas and always practice Leave No Trace Principles when exploring in and around Ely!
You also don’t want to miss one of Ely’s geological treasures: deep red garnet rocks. Tie this into your OHV excursion or make a separate hike out of it on Garnett Hill. This is a particularly great activity for families!
Board a Historic Train Circa 1905
That afternoon, it’s “all aboard” the Northern Nevada Railway. This friendly local operator offers a vast array of tours, from a Haunted Ghost Train to a Fire and Ice Fireworks Train. Check out all the options and determine what works for your trip dates and tastes! That night, take in a show at the Central Theater—a charismatic and historic place to catch a movie, or get spooked by a ghost story or two.
Bike or Hike White Pine County
On your third day, it’s time to get outside under your own power. Lace up your boots and take to the local trails. Nearby Mount Moriah offers a real workout; try the advanced 8-mile out-and-back trail to the summit. Looking for something a little closer? Try the 1.8-mile Farnsworth-Ely Loop located just outside of Ely.
Otherwise, rent a bike downtown and pedal through the scenery at a faster pace. The bike scene is booming in Ely and both mountain bikers and gravel grinders will find plenty of miles to explore. In fact, there are even several races you can partake in depending on when you visit, including the longest running enduro in the country. No matter which activity you select for the day, you’re sure to find plenty of opportunities to play in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.
Continue on the Loneliest Road in America
Once you’ve wrapped up your adventures in White Pine County, you might consider departing on Highway 50, known as the Loneliest Road in America. You could even cross the entire state of Nevada this way and discover some of our other favorite destinations on your way home! Either way, we’re sure you’ll be planning your next trip to White Pine County before you depart.