WHERE: In the mountains of Central Nevada. 245 miles North of Las Vegas, 245 Miles Southwest of Salt Lake City, 300 miles East of Reno. Set your GPS for 1100 Avenue A, Ely, NV (at the end of E.11th Street, off of US 93).
HOW: Best way is to drive and enjoy the adventure of getting here. Check out the map.
WHY: The Nevada Northern has been acclaimed as the best preserved railroad complex in North America. For railfans, history buffs, and those who are generally curious, it is well worth the journey.
WHEN: Check the calendar for year-around activities. Summers are mild at a mile high in elevation. Expect snow in the Winter.
OPEN DAILY: EXCEPT Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Day, New Years Day, and Jan 2nd.
It's true, isn't it? The Nevada Northern Railway is probably nowhere near your hometown. Chances are that if it had been located
any closer to civilization (or your hometown) the entire railroad would have been torn down and sold for scrap years ago. Because Ely is
this railroad has the good fortune of being the best-preserved standard-gauge short-line
railroad left in North America.
Getting to Ely can be a great journey. The mountains of Central Nevada is a place that not many people ever get to. The "Loneliest Highway in America" passes right through Ely. It was named by a Life Magazine editor in the 50's to make the point that this area may look lonely on a map, but it is a great place to visit.
You will find Ely to be a full-service town, within reason. There are no Home Depot or Macy stores here, but you will find friendly accommodations, good food, and the best selection of authentic ranch hardware and apparel for literally several hundred miles! Ely NV has a unique frontier personality since it is the only watering hole for an area the size of several New England states. It is the most remote town in the lower 48 states, and the jumping-off point for Great Basin National Park, including the spectacular underground caverns of Lehman Caves and the 13,000 ft peaks of Mt. Wheeler.
Ely is more than a mile high in elevation, so it has a climate more like Denver or Salt Lake rather than Las Vegas or Phoenix. Daytime Summer temperatures are usually in the 80's. Even Summer evenings can be cool here. Expect a nice little afternoon rain shower every few days in the Summer, and look for snow in the Winter. Oh, and take a moment to look up to the heavens at night and see our incredibly clear, dark skies.
Ely has an airport with a great all-weather runway that can easily accommodate a 737. As of the last update to this webpage commercial air service has been suspended. If you have your own airplane (or a good friend that does) make Ely your destination. Car rental is available in Ely or transportation from and to your hotel and the railroad can be arranged. Give us a call at 866-407-8326.
Either the Las Vegas or Salt Lake City airports are about 245 miles from Ely. It is about a three and a half hour drive through some great, rural Inter-Mountain West scenery. Reno is another option. It is about 300 miles. Elko, NV is the closest airport with scheduled flights. See? We warned you that this place is really, really remote..... but it is so worth the trip.
That would have been us, the Nevada Northern Railway, 80 or even 100 years ago.
Every single day of the year, rain or shine, wind or snow, we would have several
passenger coaches and locomotive #40, with her tender completely full of coal, spotted right here at our East Ely Depot, ready for
round-trip up to the transcontinental connection points and back.
Fortunately, that depot, Locomotive 40, and her original passenger coaches are still in active
service here, but for shorter trips. That's pretty amazing when you think about it.
By the way, your membership could help maintain locomotive #40 and her original passenger consist to possibly make the long trip again someday. That is our goal, and we would love to have you join us. After all, we still own all of our original main-line right-of-way and we keep about 70 miles of it under active maintenance today.
This is the favorite way to get here. The trip can be a fun vacation with new things to see along the way.
Coming from California and Arizona: Click on the map to the right to view and print a full-size version of our treasure map of Central Nevada, with lots of ideas for what to see on your way here.
Coming from the East: We have a full page of ideas for picking up the Golden Spike Roadtrip on your way here.
If you are coming in from the east or west on US 50, "The Loneliest Highway" you can take this quick video tour from Travel Nevada. There is a longer video of the road into Ely from the West here.
Our first choice would be to spend a night in the East Ely Yard, either in the caboose or the bunkhouse. Granted, there are many local hotels and motels here that offer more creature-comforts and you can still hear the whistle of our steam locomotives anywhere in town. For more listings see the accommodations page.
Check it out here. We have a page dedicated to planning a destination vacation to the mountains of Rural Nevada.