Back in 1986, Life magazine referred to Nevada's portion of U.S. 50, a two-lane highway bordered mostly by sagebrush, as the "loneliest road" in America. Some cried foul, but Silver State residents turned the jab into a badge of honor. Highway 50 continues to capitalize on its notoriety as well as its history and offbeat attractions. Most of the towns along the route are about an hour's drive apart. Near the eastern end sits Great Basin National Park.
Just outside of Fallon, a town known for its prized cantaloupes, you'll find ancient petroglyphs at Grimes Point. Further east lies Sand Mountain, a massive dune popular with off-road enthusiasts. Abandoned footwear adorns the aptly named Shoe Tree, near the intersection of Highway 50 and State Route 361. Austin is the site of Stokes Castle, an abandoned dream home from the town's former mining days. The 1880 opera house in Eureka, the self-proclaimed "Friendliest Town on the Loneliest Road," still raises the curtain on a variety of performers. And in Ely you can hop aboard the Northern Nevada Railway's Ghost Train for a steam train ride through the nearby hills.
Where It Is The 287-mile stretch from Fernley to Ely cuts straight across central Nevada.
Who Will Like It History buffs and lovers of desert and great road trips.
When To Go Spring or fall. For more information, contact the Nevada Commission on Tourism: (800) 638-2328, www.travelnevada.com.
Illustration by Michael Klein
This article was first published in March 2004. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.