North America United States

Explore Elko

When Sam and I went to Wendover, Nevada back in March 2020, we kept seeing signs that implored us to “Explore Elko.” As with many things, we started saying it ironically and then one day, it wasn’t ironic.

As fairly avid travelers pre-pandemic, we have often joked about being “somewhere, anywhere” even as we work at home and socialize at home and spend…. almost all our waking hours without even leaving this building. And so we planned a long weekend away to Elko.

Elko was charming! There are so many small towns in America that are struggling economically, and Elko felt like an exception to that rule. As it turns out, they’ve still got active gold mining, and as such, they’re doing pretty well. Every restaurant we ordered food from was locally owned and not a chain. We stopped by art galleries, too, and there were quite a few in the downtown area.

It is still Nevada, and it wouldn’t be a town in Nevada without several giant casinos! All of the ones we saw had a more old-school vibe, as opposed to Wendover that has more modern looking places. Or, of course, Vegas. Obviously. But the biggest shock was when we accidentally wandered into the “red light district” (really just a street with a couple legal brothels). I was sort of zoning out and looked up to see…. this.

I mean, I guess they really went for the alliteration.

If we’d been there in the summer, I would have loved to do some hiking on the Ruby Crest Trail! It looks stunning and seems, from all my research, to be a fairly undiscovered gem. But alas, it was rather cold and snowy, and we had a fairly chill weekend. We did wander along the trail next to the Humboldt River. We also saw a snow squall, which was a new experience for me. The phone alert system texted us both to tell us to stay inside, and sure enough, within 15-20 minutes it went from sunny to blizzard conditions.

Our Airbnb was absolutely amazing. We stayed up in this neighborhood with streets named after trees, and all of the houses were historic but well-kept. It was an easy walk into the city from there and our host was so great, giving us plenty of suggestions of places to go and giving us a quick tour of the new property she was working on.

Also, the drive out to Nevada is beautiful! The Bonneville Salt Flats are a great and easy day trip out from Salt Lake, and of course, we always love this view of the mountains over the lake.

It’s not exactly a hot take to say that the pandemic has changed travel. And I have desperately missed taking flights, and exploring new countries, and even the basic things like sitting in a restaurant or seeing the bottom half of a stranger’s face without worrying about whether they’re going to get me sick. But it has been a good push to spend time in places a little closer to home, places that I might not have considered as a travel destination when the whole world was open to me. Now that Sam and I are vaccinated, we’re exploring options for safe travel that are farther afield, but it’s nice to take the time to explore places like Elko every so often.

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