Elko has a reasonably good-sized, interesting downtown that offers more varied sights and eating, etc., than one will find along I-80. I recommend visiting here, whether just driving through town or not, to get a better taste of town and what it has to offer.
On the east side of the Ruby Mountains, the country gets lonelier yet. You won't find a lot of traffic on NV229 offering access to this region. A gravel road goes south off the highway, paralleling the mountain range and takes you to the vast wetlands of the Ruby Marshes. Totally incongruous here in this arid climate, the marshlands are kept green by over 200 springs which bring water out of the southern porous limestone portions of the Rubies. Over 200 species of birds have been identified here. The area is protected as a National Wildlife Refuge.
At the western base of the Ruby Mountains is the little town of Lamoille - 545 people, 5700 feet/1727 meters high. It dates back to 1865 when the first settlers arrived. The main Californian Emigrant trail stuck closer to the Humboldt River near Elko, but with the large numbers of people moving along that trail, firewood and cattle forage was scarce. An alternative trail was established along the base of the northern Rubies. Here along an old Shoshone trail, pioneers used the waters and forage found along the mountains' bases. A small US Army post -Fort Halleck- was set up a few miles away ( you can visit the site on a good gravel road out from Lamoille). A post office was established in the town in 1883 - about the same time when it was reported around 250 people lived here - not many less than today. It wasn't until the 1930's that an actual road reached Lamoille though. In 1965, the Lamiolle Canyon was developed into a Scenic Area by the US Forest Service. In Lamoille there is one place to stay - since the Brietenstein House B&B is no more - the Pine Lodge, with a neighboring restaurant and 3 rooms. The beautiful Presbyterian church occupies a most 'heavenly' setting, mountains rising high above. The church dates back to 1907.
Local boosters liken the Ruby Mountains as the 'Alps of Nevada'. Thus, Lamoille Canyon is the 'Yosemite of Nevada'. The canyons are glacial in origin, but that is where I would draw the line. Lamoille Canyon is a very pretty canyon, classical u-shaped by glaciers long gone. Here, the glaciers also completely carved through the range. The valley is forested with aspen and the Forest Service has put in a paved road that you can drive to 8800 feet/2667 meters, where at the turnaround trails emanate. There are three good campgrounds along the way and the fishing is reportedly good in the waters of Lamoille Creek.
This part of the Wild West, so it is only appropriate, that you come across horsemen who are heading into the wilderness for some unknown reason. Within the Great Basin, there are many wild horses and wild burros - descendants of the many that trod these paths in the past. Here, in the Ruby Mountains, you will see the packhorse variety. Watch where you step:-]
The Ruby Crest trail continues further south from Wines Peak, atop the Ruby range for another 36 miles. You will need another car at the other end and keep a constant look out for possible water. It is a lonely trail of great grandeur in a lonely grandeurous land.
This is the highest point in the Ruby Mountains, 11387 feet/3451 meters. There is no trail and the peak lies west of the main crest. To get here you have to do some complicated crosscountry bushwacking. This is truly off-the-beaten-path in the land of off-the-beaten-paths.
Off the west headwall of Wines Peak, 10893 feet/3301 meters high, you can over towards the Ruby Dome, 11387 feet/3451 meters high. Far below, the waters of North Furlong lake glisten. Stay awhile and observe. You might not get this way again.
Absolute tundra occurs around 11000 feet/3333 meters in the Great Basin ranges, though it can occur slightly lower in the more northerly ranges. Here, you find rock and a carpet of ground-hugging highly specialized plants. Eleven of the Great Basin ranges rise into the tundra zone and because of their isolation from each other, several have developed distinctly differently from the others. On Wines Peak, you have one of the best examples of Ruby Mountain tundra - a tundra more in common with the tundra found in Rocky Mountain ranges than in other Great Basin mountains.
A few more hills, a few more lakes and you will come to Wines Peak. It is about seven miles out and a good destination for a dayhike. This is one of the grandest viewpoints in the range, where you can truly witness the Basin-like nature of the range - gentler slopes to the west and abrupt cliff faces to the east. Atop, is a grand plateau of alpine tundra.
From the roadend in Lamoille Canyon, the Ruby Crest trail start out to the south, going for 43, mostly, lonely miles. for a mile-by-mile description see John Hart's Sierra Club offerring "Hiking in the Great Basin" or the website mentioned below. You walk past a couple of small lakes and reach the spectacular viewpoint at Liberty Pass in only a little over one mile and 1350 feet/409 meters. Liberty Lake is below you and peaks stretch out to the south. The country beckons you to continue.