Elko is the largest town in rural Nevada, a center of cowboy culture with a calendar of Western-themed cultural events and a museum big on buckaroos, stagecoaches and the Pony Express. The other cultural influence is Basque; in fact, Basque shepherds and Old West cattlemen had some violent conflicts over grazing rights in the late 19th century.
South of Elko, the Ruby Mountains are a superbly rugged range, nicknamed 'Nevada's alps' for their prominent peaks, glacial lakes and alpine vegetation: the area has the highest average annual rainfall in the state. The village of Lamoille has basic food and lodging, and one of the most photographed rural churches in the US. Just before the village, Lamoille Canyon Rd branches south, following a forested canyon for 12 miles past cliffs and waterfalls to the Ruby Crest trailhead at 8800ft.