Uncommon Activities

Photo by Sydney Martinez / Travel Nevada

Where the Old West Meets the New West

The road less traveled? It runs straight through Elko. No, we’re not talking about the ever-popular Interstate 80. We’re talking about a mindset. It’s a mindset that takes you out of the ordinary and says, “Let’s find something really memorable to do today. Something you won’t find anywhere else.”

From taking a chopper to a remote stretch of wintry wilderness for a day of heli-skiing to being regaled with tales of the frontier at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Elko is Ground Zero for unusual things to do, and we think that’s just fine and dandy.

Sure, we have all the traditional elements you’d expect in a high desert oasis — from Old West history to saloons and dusty trails — but we also like to shine the spotlight on the unusual, because it’s the unexpected that creates life-long memories. If rockhounding, ghost town exploration and giant, painted boot spotting are high on your list of priorities, Elko, Nevada is your kind of place.

Arts & Culture

Throughout Elko, murals add a splash of color, serving as a tribute to our diverse Native American, Hispanic, Basque and Western cultures. Dozens of brightly-painted cowboy boots dot the landscape, hearkening back to another time.

Centennial Boots


Basque Culture

Elko scenic drives

Get to know the Ruby Mountains and Elko’s surrounding landscape with these perfect half-day drives for exploring ghost towns, scenic byways and the gorgeous-any-time-of-year Lamoille Canyon.

Sydney Martinez / Travel Nevada

ghost towns near elko

Tuscarora and Metropolis: You’ll definitely want to haunt these old mining towns on your next ghost hunt or historical tour. Get up close with the past while imagining how life used to be in Elko.

Ruby Mountain Heli-Skiing Experience

Elko heli skiing

What’s more exciting than taking a helicopter for your next downhill skiing adventure? Nothing. With 50 peaks towering above 10,000 feet, the Rubies hold the promise of adrenaline-fueled heli-skiing via world class, high-altitude helicopters.

rockhounding near elko

Gems and minerals sparkle under the blue Nevada sky as you experience a bounty of rockhounding options around Elko County. Find agate, jasper, copper, malachite, petrified wood and more here.

shermans station

Forge new memories at a blacksmith’s shop at Sherman Station Visitor’s Center, marvel at 19th Century architecture in Old Town Wells, meet the ghosts of Mountain City, Gold Creek and Tinto; relive the glory days of the Pony Express and Donner Trail with this guide to historic Elko County.

More Uncommon Elko

There’s plenty more of the out-of-the-ordinary to discover in and around Elko, Nevada. From an unexpected wild animal display to a bar that hosts house music to mutton busting at the Silver State Stampede, here are some more of our favorite uncommon activities.

j.m. capriola co

How often do you get to see a master saddle maker at work on his next masterpiece? At J.M. Capriola Co., watch as craftsmen transform leather, bits and spurs into works of art.

elko gallery bar

Featuring theatrical performances, poetry, live DJs playing house music and plenty of libations to soothe your travel-weary soul, the DLC Gallery Bar is a can’t-miss Elko treat.

northern nevada museum

Step back to the 1860s with a visit to this museum that features an authentic Old West cabin and stagecoach along with the historic Halleck Bar.

Sydney Martinez / Travel Nevada

silver state stampede

Each July, buckaroos and bull riders converge on the Elko County Fairgrounds for a weekend of ropin’, ridin’ and mutton bustin’. It’s a true Western tradition that has to be seen in person to be believed.

Sydney Martinez / Travel Nevada

elko arborglyphs

When you see an arborglyph on an aspen tree, you can bet the Basque were there. The Jarbidge Wilderness Area is home to many of these carvings dating back to the settler days and continuing up to present day.

elko star hotel

Since 1910, this structure has housed visitors and diners alike. Dip into Basque culture with a family-style meal featuring steaks, lamb and plenty of other food to share with your tablemates.

Find Lodging in Elko

Discover the best places to stay in Elko, from guest ranches to casino hotels.