As the largest city in northeastern Nevada, often called Cowboy Country, Elko is a hub of western activity. Home to a wide variety of settlers — from mining executives to cowboy poets — Elko’s population has grown to nearly 30,000 residents (including those who have settled just over the summit in the bedroom community of Spring Creek).
The gold mining boom of the late 1980s brought a substantial number of mining companies into the area, as well as representatives from the national and international press. The diversity of the Elko community has been featured in articles appearing in such national publications as Los Angeles Times, Newsweek and USA Today. Buckaroo bards from the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering held each winter voiced the praises of Elko on the Tonight Show. In 1992, Elko was named the Best Small Town in America.
To gather information on Elko, stop by the visitors’ center at Sherman Station located on North Idaho Street. This massive log-hewn building served as a local ranch house for decades before being transported into Elko piece-by-piece and transformed into this historical site.
Located directly east of Sherman Station on Idaho Street is the Northeastern Nevada Museum, home of the Wanamaker Wildlife Exhibit. This two-story wing features the collection of international hunter Jack Wanamaker. Big game animals from all over the world are displayed in replicas of their natural habitats. Other exhibits focus on the Native Americans of Northern Nevada, pioneer settlers and ranching life, Basque culture, local artisans and remains of prehistoric mammoths from a local archeological site.
Elko’s state-of-the-art 50,000-square-foot convention center is located just north of the museum. This modern facility hosts many special events year-round, including the annual Elko Mining Expo and the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Contact the Elko Convention & Visitors Authority, which operates the convention center, for the latest visitors’ guides and information.
Elko’s world-famous Cowboy Poetry Gathering takes place in the heart of downtown Elko at the Western Folklife Center. Quartered in the historic Pioneer Hotel building, the Folklife Center’s art gallery gives an overview of western artworks, and the adjacent gift shop features one-of-a-kind gift items.
Elko is also a prime cultural center for the Basque community — groups of settlers originating in the Pyrenees of Europe who brought their unique, sheepherder’s way of life to this region. Every July, Elko hosts a Running of the Bulls in conjunction with the Basque Festival in downtown Elko.
The area’s outdoor activities include golf on two local golf courses and hiking in Lamoille Canyon in the Ruby Range, often called the Alps of Nevada. Formed by slow-moving glaciers, Lamoille Canyon offers many inviting trails to explore and an abundance of wildlife, as well as several alpine lakes dotting the Ruby Crest National Recreation Trail. Throughout the Elko area, the outdoor enthusiast can find prime hunting, fishing, boating and camping places. The Nevada Department of Wildlife offices on Mountain City Highway, next to the Elko Regional Airport, offers information on a variety of outdoor activities. A true vacation and recreation destination, Elko has a little something to offer every traveler.
The above article, adapted from the Nevada Commission on Tourism’s Cowboy Country Dream Catalog, was contributed by Ralph McMullen, Executive Director of the Elko Convention & Visitors Authority.