Highway 50

Overview

Introduction

This long stretch of highway has been called the "loneliest road in America" by Life magazine and residents of the small towns that dot across the middle of the state relish the title.

Once part of the Pony Express Trail across central Nevada, the really lonely stretch of the route begins in Ely in the east and ends at Fernley in western Nevada—many miles/kilometers of high mountains, broad valleys and picturesque Old West towns (gas up in Ely and whenever you get the chance, which won't be often). There are a number of historic sites and natural attractions along the way—a bit more spread out than you might be used to, but they're there and worth finding.

Starting at Baker on Nevada's eastern border, take time to see Great Basin National Park, then start your westward trek in earnest. The first real stop will be at Ely—be sure to see the Ward Charcoal Ovens and the railway museum. Continue west on Highway 50 to Eureka, one of Nevada's best examples of a mining town that boomed in the 1800s. Take time to admire the historic Eureka Opera House, the county courthouse and the Eureka Sentinel Museum, which contains the original printing equipment of the town newspaper, as well as posters and placards from the late 1800s. Continue on through Austin, taking a break from the drive with a visit to some of the town's Old West buildings.

After a long stretch with only a few tiny settlements, you'll pass Sand Mountain Recreation Area, which is known for its "singing sands." Actually, the dunes emit more of a low roar as the sands shift. Your chances of hearing the area sing will improve if you can avoid the many dune buggies on the mountain, though that's unlikely. When you've seen enough sand, you might consider a jaunt to Lahontan State Recreation Area, beyond Fallon, where Lahontan Reservoir has 10,000 acres/4,050 hectares of cool, clear water. Highway 50 becomes less lonely as it continues west through Carson City and on to the Nevada-California border.

Travelers should download a copy of the Highway 50 Survival Guide (http://travelnevada.com/documents/guides/survival_guide.pdf) and get it stamped in all the towns along the way to receive an "I Survived" certificate signed by Nevada's governor.

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