loneliest road in america
loneliest road nevada

Loneliest Road in America

Highway 50: Plenty of Space at Your Own Pace

Route Distance

375 to 500 miles

Suggested Time

3 Days

In July of 1986, Life magazine dubbed Nevada’s Highway 50 the “Loneliest Road in America.” The article claimed there were “no points of interest” along the route and “warned” readers not to risk traveling it unless they were confident of their “survival skills.” However, Nevada adventurers knew better then—and still do. And sure, a road doesn’t get much more wide-open than Highway 50. But that’s exactly why we dig it. Today, this famous Nevada road trip is your gateway to ghost towns, historic mining communities, stunning state parks, unsurpassed recreational opportunities, and a handful of authenticity-packed Sagebrush Saloons, to boot. 

Highlights

  • Earn road tripper cred, stamp-by-stamp, with your Highway 50 Survival Guide
  • Toast your travels in real-deal roadhouses and storied Sagebrush Saloons
  • Encounter the oldest trees under the darkest skies at Great Basin National Park

Chasing Horizons on a Route 50 Road Trip

Anything But Lonesome on the Loneliest Road

American Indians. The Pony Express. Gold miners. And now…you. Come chase some history while making plenty of your own. If it’s outdoor action you’re after, get ready for hiking, biking, camping, stargazing, hot springing, off-roading, wildlife watching, Sagebrush Saloon-hopping, and even sandboarding. You’ll also encounter a few welcoming, far-flung (but just-close-enough) small towns, from farm-fresh Fallon to western history-packed Austin, Eureka, and Ely along the way. Cap it all off at Great Basin National Park, where sky-scraping peaks and 5,000-year-old trees beckon visitors who prefer their national parks served without a side of elbows at their vista points. 

COMMUNITIES ON THIS TRIP

Carson City, Dayton, Fallon, Austin, Eureka, Ely, Baker

Glovebox Essentials

Prepare for Your Adventure

Get ready to come chase some horizons with this handy tool kit. Here, you’ll find all the Loneliest Road in America road trip essentials, including downloadable directions, maps, and podcasts, and tunes to complement your upcoming adventure.

Loneliest Road in America Playlist

Buzzfeed Bring Me! Along the Loneliest Road in America

The Loneliest Food in America—Part 1: Baker + Ely

The Loneliest Food in America—Part 2: Eureka + Kingston

The Loneliest Food in America—Part 3: Austin, Middlegate + Fallon

The Loneliest Food in America—Part 4: Dayton, Carson City + Stateline

Hit the Wide-Open Road

Heaps to Explore on Highway 50

From ghost towns and state parks to hot springs and Sagebrush Saloons, the Loneliest Road is alive with passions to chase. Along the way, you’re bound to enjoy Highway 50’s endless vistas, friendly communities, and historic towns filled with stories and characters who can spin a yarn that’ll keep you mesmerized and yearning to explore more.

Leg 1

Follow in the Hoof-steps of the Pony Express

Snag a Highway 50 Survival Guide (and first stamp) in Carson City, then hit the Loneliest Road, visiting Fallon, Sand Mountain, the Shoe Tree, and more en route to Austin NV.

Leg 2

Get Found in the Middle of Somewhere

Check out a “castle” with a view and shop for turquoise in Austin before heading toward Eureka, with detours to a hot spring, a sagebrush saloon, and a ghost town.

Leg 3

“Eureka!” Discover the Heart of Nevada.

Explore an opera house, haunted hotel, and newspaper museum in the old mining town of Eureka before cruising to Ely, where great grub, neat history, and outdoor action await.

Leg 4

A Day (or More) in the Parks

This leg is all about Great Basin National Park. 5,000-year-old trees. Millenia-old cave formations. 13,064-ft Wheeler Peak. And a few million stars. You do the math.

loneliest road in america

Leg 1

Reno or Carson City to Austin NV

170 to 215 miles

Embark from Carson City, Nevada’s cultured-up capital town. Before you ditch civilization, order your Highway 50 Survival Guide (or grab one from our pals at the Visit Carson City HQ). Collect stamps in at least five communities along your journey and we’ll send you some sweet “survivor” swag. Then head for the old mountaintop mining town of Austin, by way of Fallon, an ancient petroglyph site, a huge singing sand dune, an old-school roadhouse, and more. 

Nevada is all about open-road adventures, but please brush up on travel restrictions and safety guidelines before heading for our horizons.

Travel Nevada Pro Tip

Launching from Reno? You can also connect to route 50 in Fernley.

Stay in a motel or a cute, cozy suite in town at Union Street Lodging in town, or opt for an Uncommon Overnighter in an ornate, old-fashioned estate room in a star-studded valley at Paradise Ranch Castle

Paradise Ranch Castle

Paradise Ranch Castle

AUSTIN

Reese River Cabins

Reese River Cabins

Austin

Cold Springs Station Resort

Cold Springs Station Resort

FALLON

Holiday Inn Express – Fallon

Holiday Inn Express – Fallon

Fallon

Kingston 376

Kingston 376

KINGSTON

Best Western Fallon Inn & Suites

Best Western Fallon Inn & Suites

FALLON

Union Street Lodging B&B

Union Street Lodging B&B

Austin

Cozy Mountain Motel

Cozy Mountain Motel

Austin

View All

Uncover mining-era history at Dayton, Fort Churchill, Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Parks. Be a bird nerd at Stillwater NWR or a culture-vulture at Oats Park Art Center. Or send it big at Sand Mountain Recreation Area.

Dayton State Park

Dayton State Park

DAYTON

The Shoe Tree of Middlegate

The Shoe Tree of Middlegate

MIDDLEGATE STATION

Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge

Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge

FALLON

Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park

Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park

GABBS

Oats Park Art Center

Oats Park Art Center

FALLON

Churchill County Museum & Archives

Churchill County Museum & Archives

FALLON

Fort Churchill State Historic Park

Fort Churchill State Historic Park

SILVER SPRINGS

Sand Mountain

Sand Mountain

Fallon

Lattin Farms

Lattin Farms

FALLON

Middlegate Station

Middlegate Station

Fallon

View All

Find farm-to-fork foodie flavors in Fallon, “The Oasis of Nevada.” Tour Frey Ranch, one of the USA’s only estate distilleries. Or take on the infamous, multi-pound Monster Burger at Middlegate Station to win a trophy shirt. 

The Slanted Porch

The Slanted Porch

Fallon

Cold Springs Station Resort

Cold Springs Station Resort

FALLON

J’s Old Town Bistro

J’s Old Town Bistro

Dayton

Courtyard Cafe

Courtyard Cafe

FALLON

Middlegate Station

Middlegate Station

Fallon

Frey Ranch Estate Distillery

Frey Ranch Estate Distillery

Fallon

View All

Visitors flock to Fallon to appreciate Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge’s 260+ migratory bird species, to celebrate the town’s famed Hearts of Gold cantaloupes, and take a shot at out-drawing fellow sharpshooters. 

Fastest Gun Alive World Cowboy Fast Draw Championship

Fastest Gun Alive World Cowboy Fast Draw Championship

Fallon Cantaloupe Festival & Country Fair

Fallon Cantaloupe Festival & Country Fair

Spring Wings Bird Festival

Spring Wings Bird Festival

route 50 road trip

Leg 2

Austin, NV to Eureka, NV

70 to 135 miles

Sure, you could blast from Austin to Eureka in just over an hour. But with all these on-the-way wonders, what would be the fun in that? That’s why we’ve designated this slice of Highway 50 its own leg—one offering chances to pull up a stool in a classic Sagebrush Saloon with a Big Smoky Valley view; soak your cares away while listening for the bray of wild burros at Spencer Hot Springs; examine millennia-old cave paintings and rock carvings; and more. Combine it with Leg 3 or make it a full day on its own. The options are endless.

Sleep and sip in 1870s opulence at the elegant, beautifully restored Jackson House Hotel & Tea Room (ghost tours on weekends). Or cozy it up in the Eureka Doll House, a gorgeous little 1880-built cottage with a jacuzzi tub.

Eureka Doll House

Eureka Doll House

Eureka

Jackson House Hotel & Tea Room

Jackson House Hotel & Tea Room

Eureka

Sundown Lodge

Sundown Lodge

Eureka

On this historic leg, investigate 3,000-year-old cave paintings and 10,000-year-old petroglyphs, taste tea between ghost tours at Jackson House Hotel, and glimpse mining-era grandeur at an opera house and newspaper museum.

Jason’s Art Gallery

Jason’s Art Gallery

Austin

Stokes Castle

Stokes Castle

AUSTIN

Toquima Cave

Toquima Cave

TOQUIMA MOUNTAIN RANGE

Hickison Petroglyph Recreation Area

Hickison Petroglyph Recreation Area

AUSTIN

Eureka Opera House

Eureka Opera House

EUREKA

Eureka Sentinel Museum

Eureka Sentinel Museum

EUREKA

View All

Dip down about twenty minutes southwest off Highway 50 to Kingston, home of the Lucky Spur Saloon, where the drinks are strong and the decor fits the name. In Eureka, dig into steaks and American classics at the Owl Club.

Raine’s Market Deli

Raine’s Market Deli

Eureka

Eureka Owl Club

Eureka Owl Club

Eureka

Lucky Spur Saloon

Lucky Spur Saloon

KINGSTON

Hop into haunted history at the Jackson House Hotel, which has lured the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures crew. Or listen as some of Nevada’s most talented musicians fiddle their way to victory in the Eureka Opera House.

Nevada State Old-Time Fiddlers Contest

Nevada State Old-Time Fiddlers Contest

how long does it take to drive route 50

Leg 3

Eureka to Ely

80 to 185 miles

The short, beautiful 1.25-hour drive from Eureka to Ely rewards you with plenty of time to fill your day exploring a mountain town built on art, history, and outdoor adventure. Stop at Garnet Hill to search the ground for ruby-like stones before rolling into town, where you’ll find more gems at the bauble-filled Garnet Mercantile, plus paintings at the Ely Art Bank and on a town-wide mural tour. After wandering trails, rails, and historic sites, treat yourself to a hearty dinner and rest up for the last leg of the Loneliest Road in America.

The western-chic, century-old Hotel Nevada delights with funky flair, killer neon, and rooms honoring famous former guests, while the Bristlecone delivers mountain views, and the Prospector offers paw-some, pet-friendly rooms.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites—Ely

Holiday Inn Express & Suites—Ely

Ely

El Rancho Motel

El Rancho Motel

ELY

Historic Hotel Nevada & Gambling Hall

Historic Hotel Nevada & Gambling Hall

ELY

La Quinta Inn & Suites—Ely

La Quinta Inn & Suites—Ely

ELY

Prospector Hotel & Gambling Hall

Prospector Hotel & Gambling Hall

ELY

Bristlecone Motel

Bristlecone Motel

ELY

Jailhouse Motel & Casino

Jailhouse Motel & Casino

ELY

Magnuson Park-Vue Motel

Magnuson Park-Vue Motel

ELY

View All

With hands-on history at a railroad museum, a working locomotive yard, and Renaissance Village; fabulous art at the Ely Art Bank and all over town; and outdoor activities galore, discover what it means to get Ely-vated.

Nevada Northern Railway

Nevada Northern Railway

Ely

East Ely Railroad Depot Museum

East Ely Railroad Depot Museum

Ely

Garnet Hill

Garnet Hill

ELY

Ward Mountain Recreation Area

Ward Mountain Recreation Area

ELY

Ely Art Bank

Ely Art Bank

Ely

Renaissance Village and Ely Mural Walking Tour

Renaissance Village and Ely Mural Walking Tour

Ely

McGill Drugstore Museum

McGill Drugstore Museum

MCGILL

Cave Lake State Park

Cave Lake State Park

Ely

Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park

Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park

ELY

View All

There’s a lot to eat in Ely. From one of Nevada’s best Basque chorizo burgers to old-fashioned malts to juicy steaks served in your own private jail cell, you’ll have your plate full with this list of our favorite Ely eats.

The Cup

The Cup

ELY

Whipple Family Country Store

Whipple Family Country Store

LUND

Economy Drug & Old Fashioned Soda Fountain

Economy Drug & Old Fashioned Soda Fountain

ELY

Racks Bar & Grill

Racks Bar & Grill

ELY

Cellblock Steakhouse

Cellblock Steakhouse

ELY

Marie’s Café

Marie’s Café

McGill

View All

From on-the-ice sculpting, fishing, and bowling contests to cranking the pedals in bike races up mountains or against old-school steam locomotives, Ely’s no stranger to exciting events.

Fears, Tears and Beers Mountain Bike Enduro Race

Fears, Tears and Beers Mountain Bike Enduro Race

Fire & Ice Winter Festival

Fire & Ice Winter Festival

Great Basin Star Train

Great Basin Star Train

Silver State Classic Challenge

Silver State Classic Challenge

Race the Rails

Race the Rails

View All
reno to great basin national park

Leg 4

Ely to Great Basin National Park

65 to 95 miles

Another hour-and-change drive whisks you to wonderment at Great Basin National Park, a sanctuary where solitude can still be found and nature runs wild. Get gnarly among 5,000-year-old bristlecone pine trees—the oldest living things on Earth. Drive up to 10,000 feet and hoof it up to 13,064-ft Wheeler Peak—Nevada’s 2nd tallest. Navigate stalactites and stalagmites at stunning Lehman Caves. Then discover why “half the park is after dark” as you scan the Lower 48’s darkest night skies for shooting stars and entire galaxies.

Enjoy Great Basin’s incomparable night skies from the courtyard at Stargazer Inn, from the hot tub at Hidden Canyon Retreat, your RV site at Whispering Elms, or around the campfire at one of the National Park campgrounds.

Hidden Canyon Retreat

Hidden Canyon Retreat

BAKER

Stargazer Inn and Kerouac’s Restaurant & Bar

Stargazer Inn and Kerouac’s Restaurant & Bar

BAKER

Whispering Elms Campground, Motel and RV Park

Whispering Elms Campground, Motel and RV Park

BAKER

Cruise into Baker via Osceola Ghost Town. Then hit the park to check out water-carved formations in Lehman Caves, hike among ancient trees and towering peaks, fish backcountry lakes, and gaze galaxies with your naked eye.

Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park

Baker

Mt. Moriah Wilderness Area

Mt. Moriah Wilderness Area

BAKER

Lehman Caves

Lehman Caves

Baker

Osceola Ghost Town

Osceola Ghost Town

Osceola

Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive & Campground

Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive & Campground

Baker

View All

Baker: small town, big flavors. Gorge on gourmet breakfast and dinner—plus mixologist-quality cocktails at Kerouac’s Restaurant & Bar—to-go burgers and burritos at 487 Grill, and heftier plates at Sugar, Salt & Malt.

Stargazer Inn and Kerouac’s Restaurant & Bar

Stargazer Inn and Kerouac’s Restaurant & Bar

BAKER

Literally scope out galaxies with astro pros under the darkest skies in the Lower 48, get down at a baaaad-ass party with Great Basin sheepherders, or celebrate an intriguing community’s local heritage.

Great Basin Astronomy Festival

Great Basin Astronomy Festival

Snake Valley Festival

Snake Valley Festival

The Old Sheepherders’ Gathering in Baker

The Old Sheepherders’ Gathering in Baker

#LoneliestRoadInAmerica

The Loneliest Road? Anything but, and we’ve got the hashtag to prove it. Use #LoneliestRoadInAmerica to showcase those wide open spaces, big smiling faces, and all the adventures awaiting in between. 

Have you visited the Robert L. Douglass House recently? If not, it may be time to stop by this pink icon of Fallon history and see this unique architecture for yourself. #VisitFallon
Exploring Nevada ❤
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Hey you, Dirt here and it's your job to come visit me, but dont just visit me, make sure to get the full Ely Experience and follow visitelynevada as well!

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Will this be your view tomorrow morning?
Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Fresh Berries and Whipped Lemon Curd
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Where's our backyard now!? The loneliest road in America is no joke but we've found some nice gems to call home for the night. Like this one, Spencer Hot Springs, middle of nowhere, Nevada. And bonus. It was free 99! We soaked so many times we are rockin the raisin look😃
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At the top of a mountain looking over the whole world is the best place to clear your mind and reflect. 📷by 11.06am
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