Eastern Nevada

In the northeastern reaches of Nevada lie the Ruby Mountains–a range 60 miles long that is home to a slew of big lines that go untouched most of the year. Down in the farmlands of Lamoille, Joe and Francy Royer have been running the Ruby Mountain Heli Experience for 35 years on their own terms. It’s homestead heli in the Nevada desert.

A six pack of mini-mart Budweiser and the Superbowl on the radio brought us to The Bitter End—one of two bars in the 100-people-and-twice-as-many-horses hamlet of Lamoille, NV. Post-game radio chatter shared fading signals with talk of God—a reminder of the fine, yet distinct line between libertarian Nevada and the Joseph Smith gospel of Utah’s salt flats. The plastic checkerboard tables inside were all but deserted, save a couple deer heads overlooking a foursome clinging to the bar.

“Do you know how to find Red’s Ranch?” asked Shaun.

“Ask JJ for directions,”—an Eastwood drawl from the middle-aged redhead pouring beer.

“You boys don’t look much like heliskiers—boarders, maybe…” JJ had us pegged. “Turn left on the gravel road right outside the bar here, you can’t miss it.”

Friendly folk dominated this end of the road, it seemed. A handlebar-mustachioed companion followed us outside and pointed in the right direction: one-and-a-half miles down SR 270 and a left at the sign, where an A-Star sat dormant under the cover of night with a small cow pasture all to itself. It was a fitting welcome to Ruby Mountains Heli Experience—a fitting welcome to Joe Royer’s 35-year dream…

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