"Great Basin Byway"
US 93 is best described as the quiet north-south sibling to US 95. While US 95 provides the western spine of Nevada, the scenic "Great Basin Highway" is the all-important eastern spine, connecting Las Vegas to the American northwest via Boise and the American southwest via Kingman and Yuma. The State of Nevada has coined this spectacular highway with the nickname "Pioneer Trails Highway," due to its rich history that dates back well before Nevada was a state. In fact, much of the land that US 93 traverses has seen little change since the days of pioneers and westward explorers, such as Jedediah Smith and Joseph Walker. Today, US 93 provides a direct connection between the southwest and northwest, with its route remaining rather quick and mostly arrow-straight through Nevada. Despite its designation as a major artery in the West, a trip on US 93 almost always feels like a tranquil Sunday drive. With the exception of Las Vegas, US 93 passes through a total of only three major towns along its lengthy stretch of Nevada, including Ely, the largest crossroads in eastern Nevada. This should tell you a little something about this roadtrip! Unlike US 95, services are still far and few between, mostly confined to the three major towns and smaller outposts along the way. The largest stretch of empty highway remains between Pioche and Ely and McGill to West Wendover, two very lengthy stretches of two-lane blacktop of more than 100 miles! Many Nevadans feel that US 93 might be the next candidate for America's true Loneliest Road.
Options on the Great Basin Byway
Fortunately, all that open space will not be taken for granted. US 93 is a designated State Scenic Byway, unique in that it traverses not only both northern and southern Nevada, but does it in a way so it enters all three American deserts! The highway begins its route in the cold Great Basin Desert on the Idaho border and remains within the Great Basin for a little over half of its route (hence its nickname, "The Great Basin Byway"), before suddenly dropping into a swath of scenic Utah red-desert near the Lincoln County communities of Panaca and Caliente. South of Caliente, the highway tops a high ridge before suddenly dropping into a stately Joshua tree forest, marking the start of the warmer Mojave Desert, where it takes over as the remaining desert. From here, US 93 cuts southward to Nevada's largest city where it ceremoniously enters Arizona at the grand Hoover Dam. A roadtrip isn't a roadtrip without sights. Therefore, (for those of you wondering) the newly-constructed Hoover Dam Bypass will be ... "bypassed" for the original route over the dam -- a lovely ending to an already lovely byway. It won't take much to fall in love with 93, but compared to many other roadtrips, the amount of sites is small. There is reason for this. As you'd expect on such a lightly-traveled highway, many of the sights on this roadtrip are fairly primitive, such as campsites, fishing holes, rockhounding areas, and of course, historic markers. In comparison to my other roadtrips, 93 doesn't have a large number of markers, but the large amount available from my other intersecting roadtrips allow for extended travel! 93 provides access to all three of these roadtrips, also making it a vital basejump for further exploration. My Interstate 80 Roadtrip becomes immediately accessible in Wells, whereas farther down the highway in Ely, my US 50 Roadtrip becomes another immediate option. Of course, the City of Las Vegas and my US 95 Roadtrip invites even further exploration on the western side of the state. While most people travel US 93 in a long solid day, I recommend at least 4 days. The lengthy mileage and scenic deserts of US 93 mandate equal exploration for both northern and southern Nevada, especially if you plan to visit any of the remote Lincoln County state parks, or the City of Las Vegas. This amount of time accounts for the other possible roadtrips as well! As for detours, I've included only one -- an extensive 2-3-day drive that explores the colorful eastern half of Clark County, one that visits the magnificent scenes within Valley of Fire and Lake Mead. Please know that this roadtrip covers only the eastern half of Clark County. Don't worry. My US 95 Roadtrip covers the stark western half of Clark County, including Red Rock Canyon and the Spring Mountains.
Options on the Great Basin Byway
Entire Length: 500.883 miles
Begin: Idaho State Line, Jackpot, NV.
End: Arizona State Line, Hoover Dam
Driving Time: 7 hours, 26 minutes
Number of Historical Markers (without detours): 37
Number of Detours: 2
Recommended Drive Time: 5-6 days
Towns: Jackpot, Wells, Cherry Creek, McGill, Ely, Pioche, Ursine, Panaca, Caliente, Alamo, Hiko, Glendale (Moapa), Overton, Bunkerville, Mesquite, Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City
Counties: Elko, White Pine, Lincoln, Clark