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The Ruby Mountains comprise one of the many mountain ranges of the Great Basin in the western United Statesmarker. They are the predominant range in Elko Countymarker, in the northeastern section of the state of Nevadamarker. To the north is Secret Pass and the East Humboldt Rangemarker, and from there the Rubies run south-southwest for about . To the east lies Ruby Valleymarker, and to the west lie Huntington and Lamoille Valleys. The highest peak is Ruby Domemarker , located at 40°37.3'N and 115°28.5'W in the central core of the range, about southeast of the community of Elkomarker.

The 'Rubies' were named after the garnets found by early explorers. The central core of the range shows extensive evidence of glaciation during recent ice ages, including U-shaped canyons, moraines, hanging valley, and steeply carved granite mountains, cliffs, and cirques. All of these features can be seen from the 12-mile paved National Scenic Byway up Lamoille Canyonmarker, which enters the range near the town of Lamoillemarker.

Major Features

Major valleys include Lamoille Canyon (and its branches Thomas and Right Fork Canyons), Seitz, Echo, Box, and Kleckner Canyons. Canyons to the north drain into the Humboldt River, while a group of canyons above the Te-Moak tribal lands constitute the headwaters of the South Fork of the Humboldt River. Major summits include Ruby Dome, Ruby Pyramid, Thomas Peak, Liberty Peak, Mount Fitzgerald, Verdi Peaks, Snow Lake Peak, Mt. Silliman, and Mt. Gilbert. Prominent peaks further south are Wines, King, Tipton, and Pearl Peaks. To the north are Old-Man-of-the-Mountain and Soldier Peaks.

Glaciers often gouged out basins that are now alpine lakes. The larger of these include Echo, Liberty, Favre, Lamoille, Castle, and Griswold Lakes, while smaller tarns include the scenic Island, Dollar, Verdi, Snow, Box, and Seitz Lakes. Further to the north are Cold, Hidden, Soldier and Robinson Lakes, while to the south are North Furlong and Overland Lakes. Water collected by the southern section of the Rubies seeps into the adjacent Ruby Valley to form the Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

Ecology

The eastern Great Basin is wetter than the western part in the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada range. Moisture collected by this high range promoted the heavy Pleistocene glaciation and still supports a wide variety of flora and fauna. Lower elevations are covered by aspen trees, while higher up the whitebark and limber pines predominate. Mountain goats, bighorn sheep, mule deer, mountain lion, marmots, beaver, and pikas are common residents. A population of Himalayan Snowcock was introduced from Pakistan, and is thriving among the high cliffs. Streams, particularly on the western slopes have populations of native Lahontan or Humboldt Cutthroat Trout, but many of these populations are hybridized with Rainbow Trout or have been displaced by Brown and Brook Trout, all stocked for angling purposes before impacts on native trout species were well understood.

Geology

The Ruby Mountains are part of the Basin and Range Province that formed as a result of extension of the North American plate. Normal faults on the eastern and western flanks of the range separate it from the basins on either side of it. The Ruby mountains are an example of a metamorphic core complex, and middle and lower crustal rocks have been exhumed to the surface in the footwall of a large detachment fault. A mylonitic shear zone can be traced along the fault on the western margin of the Ruby Mountains, marking the contact between the igneous and metamorphic rocks in the core complex and the undeformed sedimentary rocks around it. Generally deeper rocks are exposed in the northern part of the Ruby Mountains than in the south.

Wilderness Area

The higher altitude sections of the range were designated as the Ruby Mountains Wilderness Areamarker in 1989. The isolated Seitz and Echo Canyons are further preserved as an ecologically special Research Natural Area. The Ruby Crest National Recreation Trailmarker winds from Harrison Pass northward about to the Road's End Trailhead high in Lamoille Canyon. Principal recreational access can be found at Lamoille and Soldier Canyons on the west side of the range, and at the Overland Lake Trailhead to the east. The Ruby Mountains are included in the Ruby Mountains Ranger District of Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.

References

  1. Satarugsa, Peangta and Johnson, Roy A. (2000) Cenozoic tectonic evolution of the Ruby Mountains metamorphic core complex and adjacent valleys, northeastern Nevada, Rocky Mountain Geology, 35: 205-230
  2. Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest


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