Loneliest Road in America
Highway 50: Plenty of Space at Your Own Pace
375 to 500 miles
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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
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
Cold Springs Station Resort
Best Western Fallon Inn & Suites
Paradise Ranch Castle
Reese River Cabins
Union Street Lodging B&B
Cozy Mountain Motel
Holiday Inn Express – Fallon
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.
Churchill County Museum & Archives
Fort Churchill State Historic Park
The Shoe Tree of Middlegate
Dayton State Park
Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park
Oats Park Art Center
Hidden Cave & Grimes Point Archaeological Site
Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge
Republic of Molossia
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
Frey Ranch Farmers + Distillers
Cold Springs Station Resort
J’s Old Town Bistro
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.
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.
Jackson House Hotel & Tea Room
Eureka Doll House
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.
Hickison Petroglyph Recreation Area
Eureka Opera House
Toquima Mountain Range
Jason’s Art Gallery
Eureka Sentinel Museum
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
Lucky Spur Saloon
Eureka Owl Club
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.
Historic Hotel Nevada & Gambling Hall
La Quinta Inn & Suites—Ely
Prospector Hotel & Gambling Hall
Jailhouse Motel & Casino
Magnuson Park-Vue Motel
El Rancho Motel
Holiday Inn Express & Suites—Ely
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
Ward Mountain Recreation Area
Renaissance Village and Ely Mural Walking Tour
Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park
East Ely Railroad Depot Museum
Ely Art Bank
McGill Drugstore Museum
Cave Lake State Park
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.
Whipple Family Country Store
Economy Drug & Old Fashioned Soda Fountain
Racks Bar & Grill
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.
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
Whispering Elms Campground, Motel and RV Park
Stargazer Inn and Kerouac’s Restaurant & Bar
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.
Mt. Moriah Wilderness Area
Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive & Campground
Osceola Ghost Town
Great Basin National Park
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
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.
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