‘There are no points of interest. We don’t recommend it.’
The 287-mile stretch of U.S. 50 running from Ely to
Fernley, Nev., passes nine towns, two abandoned
mining camps, a few gas pumps and the occasional coyote.
‘We warn all motorists not to drive there,’ says the AAA rep,‘unless they’re confident of their survival skills.’
-Quote from Life Magazine, as printed in the "Highway 50 Survival Guide"
|Welcome to "The Loneliest Highway in America"|
Its called, "The Loneliest Highway in America" and it sure does live up to its reputation. It has all the thrills of Route 66; scenery, little towns build for the highway, and just an all around great ride. Highway 50 itself crosses the country, beginning in Ocean City, Maryland and ending in my quaint little hometown of Sacramento, California. It is a unique ride. Unlike Interstates 80, 90, 10 and other cross country routes, it is designed to be scenic, not necessarily the easiest and most direct route. While I've driven interstates 80, 40, 10 and others significantly, Highway 50 is a much more interesting route, especially through Nevada.
"The Loneliest Highway in America" refers specifically to the section of Highway 50 that cuts straight across the great desert of Central Nevada. It gets this name from an article produced in Life Magazine that portrayed this highway as a rugged one which penetrates the most uncivilized parts of the country. Originally, it was meant as a serious warning to the wayfaring motorist but it since has attracted the attention of many road tripping adventure seekers. This is how I was able to drive it and why I recommend you do the same!
View Highway 50: The Loneliest Highway in America in a larger mapThe Grand Tour
I drove Highway 50 in the spring of this year and loved every minute of it. I will give you the tour, from west to east. I drove it the other way but "traditionally" it is traveled in an easterly direction. Starting in beautiful Lake Tahoe, Highway 50 winds its way down from the pine forests of the Sierra Nevada into the incredibly different high desert of the Great Basin. In a matter of miles you will instantly see the effect of the Sierra Nevada's rain shadow on Nevada's desert.
|A real open road!|
As you move through the middle of the state, you begin to realize Nevada's rather unique topography. See, Nevada has the most number individual mountain ranges in the United States. This makes the ride like an old time wooden roller coaster. One moment you're climbing up an 10,000ft mountain pass, the next you're in a deep valley and the whole thing starts over again. Each mountain range is like a "sky island". Due to their height, these ranges attract the little moisture that moves through the area. Therefore, there is an abundance of life in the higher regions of the mountain, which is rather ironic compared to most other mountains. What's even more interesting is that each valley is essentially a barrier to life migrating between ranges. So, life in each range is literally isolated although they may only be 30-40 miles apart.
|"Sky Islands" attract the little moisture of the desert|
|Great Basin National Park|
|The Lehman Caves|
Road Tripping is certainly one of America's favorite pastimes. Seeing large areas of the country all in one trip helps develop an appreciation for the diverse environments of our country. I certainly hope that you make the wildest road trip you can and drive "The Loneliest Highway in America"
Read. Plan. Get Out There!