"America's Loneliest Road"

Windshield Overview Let's Hit the Road

Rumor has it! In July 1986, Life described US 50 from Fernley to Ely as "the loneliest road" in America. Life continued its abrograting review with one particular statement by an AAA vector that was read by Americans across the country.

"It's totally empty. There are no attractions and no points of interest. We don't recommend it. We warn all motorists not to drive there unless they're confident of their survival skills."

What these people didn't know is that the article went above and beyond attracting people from around the world rather than deter them from the 287-mile stretch of road! Instead of its status as a pejorative, Nevada officials seized on it as a marketing slogan. Today, anybody who is anybody traveling into Nevada knows about "America's Loneliest Road." With this popularity then US 50 really isn't really that lonely. It just seems that way because of its light population and its total of six ... yes six major towns across the width of the state. US 50 is a highway roller coaster that crosses several large desert valleys separated by the regular mountain ranges that tower above the valley floors. With this regular pattern of up-and-down across the entire state, US 50 summits 15 mountain passes, beginning and ending at elevations over 6,000 feet!

Survivalist Kits?
This diverse route through the state traverses the resort communities of Lake Tahoe, the state capital in Carson City, and dozens of historical sites, state parks, and petroglyphs to alpine forests, desert valleys, salt pans, and ghost towns. So then, where do we start? I've mapped this roadtrip to handle the best experience of US 50 starting at the western end in Lake Tahoe and ending at the Utah state line at Great Basin Nat'l Park. The segment dubbed "America's Loneliest Road" makes up approximately half of the route, 287 spectacular miles from Fallon to Ely. Don't forget! While you venture on this drive across central Nevada, the State of Nevada invites you to pick up a free "Loneliest Road Survival Kit" at any of the various Chambers of Commerce, museums, restaurants, motels, and fill up stations along the highway. Review your kit for ... a state road map, the "Loneliest Road Survival Guidebook" showing some things to see, and a line map of the road. Once you have your copy, stop into each town along the way - Fernley, Fallon, Austin, Eureka, and Ely to have your Loneliest Road map stamped. Oh, and don't cheat. Only each town can stamp their respective box! When all five have been stamped, mail in the completed form (free postage) to the Nevada Commission of Tourism in Carson City. You will then receive a "Loneliest Road Survival Certificate" signed by the Governor himself, a "Loneliest Road" Label Pin, and a "Loneliest Road" bumper sticker announcing that you "survived" this "uninteresting and empty" road.

The Markers
You're in luck. Those of you who choose to "risk life and limb" on America's Loneliest Road are well rewarded by the almost surrealistic intensity of the wild western landscape. The route also contains over one quarter of the State Historical Markers in the system thus leaving you in a great advantage to conquer even more! The only markers that I have covered here are accessed directly from US 50 with some requiring short detours of no more than ten miles. I have also included two beautiful detours - each one on opposite ends of the state. In anybody's opinion, the markers are just a bonus to this already spectacular route. Paint these in your collective mind: summer thunderheads, alpine forests, bathing in desert hot springs below snowy ranges. Fall under the hypnotic rhythm of telephone poles marching single file in solemn procession beside the road while bands of wild horses race toward the horizon. US 50, the Loneliest Road in America, really is one of the most beautiful and interesting drives you'll ever take. Lucky you.

Let's Hit The Road

US 50

Windshield Overview

Entire Length: 409 miles

Begin: California State Line, South Lake Tahoe, CA.
End: Border Inn, Snake Valley, UT.
Driving Time: 6 hours, 5 minutes
Total Marker Count (including detours): 56
Number of Detours: 2
Recommended Drive Time: 4-5 days
Towns: South Lake Tahoe (CA), Stateline, Glenbrook, Incline Village, Carson City, Mound House, Dayton, Stagecoach, Silver Springs, Fallon, Austin, Eureka, Ely, Baker, Garrison (UT)
Counties: Douglas, Carson City, Lyon, Churchill, Lander, Eureka, White Pine