View east along SR 490 from its western terminus near Ely State Prison
The route begins at the entrance to the Ely State Prison, a maximum-security penitentiary north of Ely. From there, the route follows Lackawanna Road in a southeasterly direction through desert terrain for nearly 3 miles (4.8 km). SR 490 then cuts through a short mountain gap and turns nearly due south. After another 3 miles (4.8 km), the route turns easterly at a T-intersection. SR 490 then travels about 2 miles (3.2 km) further to the southeast to reach its terminus at a junction on U.S. Route 93 northeast of Ely and just south of the Ely Airport.