Ely Nevada once was a stagecoach stop along the Pony Express route. Later, copper mining turned Ely from an Old West outpost to a boomtown, and the railroad brought multiple people to White Pine County. Today, Ely’s boom comes courtesy of tourists and train enthusiasts. They come to soak in the views of Great Basin National Park, ride the rails, and get a taste of the Old West. Many follow Interstate 93 and make the four-hour trip from Las Vegas. Salt Lake City is four hours to the east via the Lincoln Highway and Interstate 80.
Great Basin National Park
If you think there’s nothing but deserts in Nevada, a visit to Great Basin National Park will change your mind. It’s a 70-mile trip from Ely Nevada to the park, and it’s a scenic trip the entire way. Once you get to the park, you’ll find a wide array of landscapes that look nothing like the desert—Wheeler Peak, at 13,063 feet, ancient pine trees, rocky outcrops created when the glaciers slid through, and the underground wonderland of Lehman Caves. The list of the things to do changes from season to season. In the summertime, park rangers lead astronomy tours, and all of the campsites are open. Guided cave tours are an option year-round, as is hiking and wildlife watching.
Museums & Historic Sites
Ely has not lost touch with its roots, demonstrated by its museums and historical sites. The story of the railroad lives on with the Nevada Northern Railway Museum. Its biggest exhibit is the Ghost Train, a rolling steam engine that makes the trip from Ely Nevada straight into the past on a 90-minute shortline rail excursion. Railroad buffs will want to visit the East Ely Depot Museum. Outdoor adventurers will get a kick out of a visit to Cave Lake State Park, loved for its trout fishing, boating, and birdwatching. Renaissance Village is another place to connect with Ely’s history. The collection of homes and shops are decorated just at they would have been by the various cultures who settled in Ely Nevada around the turn of the 20th century.
Hotels & Lodging
Ely’s main hotel is also one of its historic sites. The Hotel Nevada and Gambling Hall (pictured), once was a popular stopping point for movie stars on their was to vacation in Sun Valley, Idaho, people like Jimmy Stewart and Gary Cooper. Today, the hotel rooms are individually decorated in honor of these movie stars — 67 in total. Guests are treated to free WiFi and free parking. For gaming, the casino offers live blackjack and plenty of slots. Other Nevada hotels are located in and around Ely, including a Ramada and the Best Western Park Vue Motel.
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