Pioche, Ely, Austin, Tonopah, Beatty
- Distance: 853 Miles or 1,373 Kilometers
- Number of Nights: 4
Depart Las Vegas on I-15 North to Hwy. 93 North on your way to the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge. A stop on the Pacific Flyway — a major north-south route for birds — Pahranagat is visited by more than 230 species of migratory birds and is a popular spot for bird watching. Continue north to Alamo and stop at the Windmill Ridge Restaurant & Lodging, known for its scrumptious baked goods. Continue on the scenic Great Basin Highway to Kershaw-Ryan State Park where you can hike, play volleyball, or relax on the lush grass. Heading north, the next stop is Cathedral Gorge State Park, which has dramatic clay and sandstone formations such as the Moon Caves. Drive to the historic mining town of Pioche, known as “The Deadliest Town in the West,” and visit Boot Hill cemetery, the 1870s-era Million Dollar Courthouse, and the town museum. Overnight in Pioche.
From Pioche, drive north on the Great Basin Highway to Hwy. 50, heading east into Great Basin National Park. Here, see 5,000-year-old bristlecone pine trees, the oldest living things on Earth, and enjoy a tour in the Lehman Caves to see the stalactite and stalagmite formations. Then, take Hwy. 50 West toward Ely, founded in the 1870s as a stagecoach stop. Be sure to visit the East Ely Railroad Depot Museum or take a ride on the Nevada Northern Railway, built in the early 1900s. While in Ely, explore the city’s Art Trail, which features more than 20 murals and sculptures depicting the city’s history. Overnight in Ely.
Life magazine once described Highway 50 as “The Loneliest Road in America.” Think of it as a challenge as you travel west from Ely on Hwy. 50. Stop in Eureka and enjoy a self-guided walking tour of historic buildings, including the Eureka Opera House and the Sentinel Museum. Continue west to Austin, founded during a silver rush in the 1860s. Whet your whistle at the International Café and Bar, a saloon with as much history as the town itself. Head south on Hwy. 376 to drive through the picturesque Smoky Valley to Tonopah, the site of a mining boom in the early 1900s. Don’t worry if you arrive after dark; this is the best time to view the starry skies in what USA Today called the No. 1 place to stargaze in the United States. Overnight in Tonopah.
Today, explore the Tonopah Historic Mining Park to see mining equipment, buildings, and mine shafts. Also visit the Central Nevada Museum, which highlights Tonopah’s mining history and tells the story of the area’s ranching and pioneer past. Continue south on Hwy. 95 toward Goldfield, an early 1900s boomtown that is now home to the reportedly haunted Goldfield Hotel and other historic buildings. Continue south on Hwy. 95 to Beatty. Overnight in Beatty.
From Beatty, head southwest on State Route 374 to Death Valley National Park. On the way, visit the ghost town of Rhyolite and the Goldwell Open Air Museum, site of several large-scale sculptures, including an interpretation of Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.” Rhyolite is one of the most photographed ghost towns in the West and well worth the short detour. Continue southeast to Furnace Creek in Death Valley National Park and pick up maps and guides at the visitors center, or just take in the dramatic landscapes and sand dunes. Take Hwy. 190 East to Pahrump, but be sure to stop at Death Valley’s famous Zabriskie Point and other unforgettable viewing areas along the way. Finally, connect with Hwy. 160 East in Pahrump and finish your adventure in Las Vegas.