The first ever Cool Mountain Thunder Bike Week is set to kick off in Ely, Nevada, September 2–11, centered at the historic Hotel Nevada and Gambling Hall, a biker friendly landmark casino that will be the sponsor hotel for the event.
Ely is situated deep in the mountains, approximately 240 miles north of Las Vegas. There are two ways you can arrive and leave from Las Vegas, both ways offering their own unique beauty and charm. The fastest way is taking Highway 93 north of town to Highway 318, which takes you through the small towns of Alamo, Hiko and Lund, all just small spots on the map. The other way, which takes an hour longer, winds you through lush green valleys and past the unique towns of Caliente, Panaca, and Pioche. Ely is also a five-hour ride across Highway 50, America’s Loneliest Highway, from Reno. From Salt Lake City, it’s a four-hour ride west through the mountains.
“From whichever direction you may be coming from, it’s a fantastic ride into Ely,” said Gary Cook, an organizer of the event.
While there will be many of the usual events bikers have come to expect during the course of the week, the main attraction of the Cool Mountain Thunder Bike Week is the roads going in and around Ely. The Great Basin, of which Ely is centered in, offers hundreds of miles of traffic-free scenic highways through august and monumental mountains divided by deep, far-reaching verdant green valleys that stretch across the horizon under indigo blue skies, dressed with a scattering of billowy white clouds.
“This isn’t one of those counterfeit, corporate shows that exist only to deplete your wallet,” said Cook. “Rather it’s an event for people who truly like to ride. It’s for people that want to spend a few days riding the mountains without traffic in front of them slowing them down, or cars behind them rushing them off the road.”
The event kicks off on September 2, and bikers are invited to join the McGill Labor Day parade in historic McGill, Nevada, a mining town 10 miles up the road from Ely. Kickstands go up at 5 p.m. at the Hotel Nevada so that bikers unfamiliar with the area, can be led up there. After the parade, Brian Ward and 8 Seconds will be playing at the Rio Bar on Aultman, and the California Dream Girls will be there as well, providing entertainment.
Saturday, September 3, includes a 50/50 Raffle Run to Wheeler Peak in Great Basin National Park. The run will take bikers through the pine covered hillsides of Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest to Major’s Junction. From there the ride will continue on over to Baker, home of Great Basin National Park, where bikers will make the 12-mile climb up the mountain, reaching more than 10,000 feet and overlooking the Snake Valley. Bikers will pick up their raffle ticket and then head back to Ely, where there will be a live band, food, drinks, casino gambling, vendors, Best Bike contest and a slow ride contest at the Hotel Nevada.
During the week there are several more Raffle Runs to various locations, as well as contests, games and entertainment including shows from Brian Ward. Bikers can set off in any of four directions and land on a traffic-free road with adventures near and far. This will be an opportunity to explore the Great Basin and all that it has to offer; rides that will be especially rewarding to bikers of every skill level. It’s a chance for bikes to get to know the great people of Ely and the surrounding communities and visit the many historic sites that make up the local area.
“In any direction you go, it’s a great ride,” Cook said. “It’s a great biker town, very respectful and welcoming. With all of the bikers that pass through here daily in the summertime, it’s only natural that a bike week be located here.”
Hotel reservations can be made by calling the Hotel Nevada at 775.289.6665. Vendors spots are still available by calling 760.550.3943. For more information and updates on the event, check out the Cool Mountain Thunder Facebook page here.