US HWY 50 through Nevada is well known as the Loneliest Road in America. In my 26 years of being a Nevada residence, not once have I ever made it east of Fallon. I have always wanted to drive the duration of the HWY but never found a reason until our state park adventure began. There are 2 state parks close to Ely and Great Basin National Park in Baker. In planning a trip to visit all three parks this last month, we also set out to travel the Loneliest Road in America to see how lonely it really was.
Helpful Loneliest Road Resources
From Carson City to Ely, you are looking at a 5 hour drive. Obviously this is an estimate and dependent on how many bathroom breaks your little passengers may need. After researching itineraries and recommendations for traveling across the state, I knew there would be few places to stop for gas, food, or bathroom breaks. They aren’t kidding, plus there are even fewer in the winter months. So I highly recommend topping off your gas tank in Fallon, even if you don’t need it. Also make sure you bring plenty of snacks and drinks. Being able to stop to stretch our legs and make a sandwich makes for a much happier car full of Robinsons.
Cell coverage in Nevada is notorious for being spotty at best, so I also packed a paper map. Cell coverage was a lot better than I expected, but I really enjoyed that paper map. There is something nostalgic and enjoyable about following your path, being able to read what is on the horizon and look back to where you have been. Call me old fashion, but it sure beats blindly obeying your car or phone GPS.
Driving from Fallon to Ely you will run into a few scattered rest stops and 2 towns. That is it. There are a lot of turn off roads that are generally gravel, have signs that say some town that is 60 miles away, and are so straight that you can see them disappear with the curvature of the earth. We saw our fair share of cars passing, but other than that, HWY 50 holds true to it’s name. While lonely, the scenery is beautiful. The isolation is good for some soul searching and deep breathing. You definitely won’t be claustrophobic out here.
The kids did fairly well especially since Annabelle was starting to get sick and Oliver struggles with car sickness. On our way out to Ely we stopped at Hickison Petroglyph Recreation Area right past Austin. I convinced everyone to walk up the first part of the trail to see some petroglyphs. Everyone was happy we did even if it was windy and cold.
On our way home, 2 days later, we stopped at Stokes Castle in Austin. As I am finding in my explorations of Nevada, so many buildings have a very colorful but brief history. Stokes Castle is definitely one of them. The view from the castle was most impressive. Even after all our adventures and years in Nevada, I’m still impressed and humbled by the vastness of our open spaces.
There is so much more to explore on the Loneliest Road then I could have imagined. I loved seeing a different side of Nevada and sharing the journey with my little family. What adventures have you been on and what should we be adding to our next HWY 50 road trip?