Ruby Mountains Wilderness
Wilderness Area Status
Designated Wilderness Area
Year Designated: 1989
Act or Law: Nevada Wilderness Protection Act of 1989
State Region: Northeast Nevada
County Regions: Elko
Local District: Ruby Mountains Ranger District
Contact Info: (775) 752-3357
PO Box 246 Wells,
Visit the website
(will open a new window)
The Ruby Mountains Wilderness is characterized by high, multi-faceted, granite-like peaks soaring above lush green meadows and sparkling sapphire blue lakes. The "rubies" of the mountains' name are actually garnets, red semiprecious stones found in certain metamorphic rocks. Long and narrow, the Rubies stretch 100 miles and seldom get more than 10 miles wide.
Nowhere else in Nevada is there such a spectacular landscape, with hanging valleys, clusters of lakes and snow-fed streams flowing down the U-shaped glacial valleys on the west side of the range. Because they were so heavily glaciated and have such abundant water, the Rubies represent the classic mountain wilderness.
Glaciers scoured the northern end of the Rubies during the last Ice Age, creating the U-shaped Lamoille Canyon, also known as Nevada's Yosemite. Hanging valleys, towering summits, and year-round snowfields characterize the wilderness.
South of Lamoille you'll encounter seven miles of lake basins and meadows before the terrain south of Furlong Lake turns into a narrow, grassy ridge that runs 20 miles to the Overland Lake basin. The Rubies include 10 peaks above 10,000 feet (Ruby Dome tops out at 11,387 feet) and more than two dozen alpine lakes, rare treats in this arid state.
You'll also find here one of the largest herds of mule deer in Nevada, numbers of mountain goats and bighorn sheep, and streams teeming with trout (including the threatened Lahontan cutthroat). Himalayan snow cocks and Hungarian partridges have been introduced and are doing well. Prehistoric hunting blinds and once-inhabited caves on high ridges indicate that this area has been in use for a long time.
Wildlife: Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Rubber Boa, Flammulated Owl, Ruffed Grouse, Himalayan Snowcock, Golden Eagle, Bald Eagle, Northern Goshawk, Williamson's Sapsucker, Great Horned Owl, Gray-crowned Rosy Fich, Black Rosy Finch
The Ruby Mountains Wilderness is home to high-elevation glacial lakes. (c) Norman Herterich
Liberty is a beautiful alpine glacial lake. (c) Norman Herterich