"The Loneliest Road In America" - US 50 in Nevada

(January 2, 2017) As I wrote in my previous blog post, I had crossed into Nevada on a lengthy dirt road called Crestline Road. It was Day 7 of 17 on my ride, Thursday, June 16, 2016. From Crestline Road I turned left onto Nevada route 319, which took me into the small town of Panaca. At the interchange with US 93, I got gas. This was one of those days that when you encountered a gas station, you filled your tank.

The goal of the day was to ride from my mother's home in St. George, Utah to a Kampgounds of America (KOA) campground in South Tahoe, California by way of US 50 across Nevada, referred to as "The Loneliest Road in America." Riding this road was on my bucket list and I was very excited to have the opportunity to see it and grateful to have great weather -- not too hot, not too cold, low winds, no fires. 

When I originally planned this ride, I designed it as a counter-clockwise loop around the continent. However, after looking at many photos taken from this road and made available on Google Images, I realized that I wanted to ride west across Nevada so I would see the Sierra Nevada mountains as I approached from the east. I'm very glad I changed my mind on direction as I really enjoyed crossing Nevada east-to-west. I recommend it to others.

However, before I could get to US 50, I had to ride part of US 93 north. I found that road to be at least as "lonely" as US 50. I stopped for some pictures along 93 between Panaca and Majors Place--or Majors Junction, depending on what documentation you're looking at--and have included them below.

Along this section of highway, I happened to encounter a motorcyclist standing on the right shoulder of the road, leaning against his bike staring at a mountain range across the road. In his left hand he had an empty plastic gallon milk jug. I slowed to see if he needed assistance, but he waved the milk jug at me and did not look concerned, so I continued on. I figured he was drinking water from the jug.

Later, when I was getting gas and taking a break just southeast of Ely, an old beater of a car pulled up and out of the back seat jumped this fellow with his empty milk jug and he began filling it with gas.

I felt bad at first, and then irritated, because I had a can of gas in my saddle bag and would have been happy to share it with him. When I told this story to a friend of mine after I got back home, she speculated that this rider was local and was waiting for his friends to come and give him a ride. I'll go with that explanation because it makes me feel better. :-) 

Majors Place (Junction), Nevada

At the intersection of US 93, US 50, and US 6 -- Majors Place -- I was so impressed by the lack of anything there I stopped to take pictures and capture a video with my iPhone. I've included some of them below.

Lake Valley Summit -- looking west off of US 93 just south of the junction with US 50 at Majors Place.
The sign says "Majors Junction" and my map says "Majors Place" -- It really doesn't matter though because there's nothing there but the two roads (three federal routes) meeting.


Two Short Videos from US 93

The first video below is one I took with my iPhone along US 93 between Panaca and Ely. The second video shows the intersection of US 6, US 50, and US 93. I've never seen an intersection of US federal routes--three no less--with no buildings of any kind present. This is a clue that one should fill up one's gas tank whenever possible.



Ely, Nevada

Though it's only about 120 miles between Panaca and Ely, that's 120 miles of nothing. It was nice to pull into Ely and full up my gas tank. I wish I had had more opportunity to spend time in Ely. It looks like a very interesting place. It's got that classical Western Americana look, a real cowboy town.  

The selfie I've included to the left, I took as I was leaving Ely. I was a little surprised and bummed how quickly I passed through town. I was beginning to appreciate civilization more and more. 

Austin, Nevada

I didn't bother to get gas in Eureka (just 77 miles west of Ely) because I had just filled up in Ely and I figured I'd fill up again in Austin, which is about 150 miles from Ely. Are you sensing where this is going?

It turns out there was only one gas station in Austin and it was closed for remodeling. I made it to Fallon Station, Nevada, about 250 miles from Ely. I was comforted by having a spare gallon of gas in my saddlebag; but still, I'm obsessive about planning and I hate surprises like this--as I mentioned in my last post, about my Crestline Road experience. 

I've included three videos, below, two taken as I entered Austin from the east -- a steep descent into town, and the third video as I was past Austin on my way to Fallon/Fallon Station, Nevada for that precious petrol.

I captured the video above using my GoPro camera rather than my iPhone. It's views such as they that motivate me to ride cross-country.

Fallon, NV & Carson City, NV

The first encounter of what looked like real desert to me occurred east of Fallon, NV where the US Navy has large training facilities, including Naval Air Station Fallon, where its TOPGUN school is located. Fallon, NV is dominated by the Navy installations.

I've included some videos below, which I captured using my GoPro camera.

Notice how people have carved letters in the sand along both sides of the road. This goes on for many, many miles. People also created words and patterns by carefully placing small stones on the sand. There are so many of them that you realize they've probably been placed there over many years. The climate and composition of the sand is such that there is little to disturb these impressions and stone works over many years. Interesting. 

In this video you can see that the nice clean sand beds are gone. Now it's merely a scrubby-looking desert.

Here you can see me entering Fallon, Nevada, my first real town since Austin, about 110 miles to the east. You can see the Fallon City Limit sign on the right just before the video clip ends.

I included this video segment because the overhead road sign reveals that I'm crossing US 95 on my way to Carson City. Just west of Fallon, US 50 splits into 50 and 50A (alternate). Taking US 50 requires a left turn, which I missed. After only a few hundred yards I figured out my mistake and a U-turn solved that problem.

Here the desert is not rapidly receding as I approach Carson City and the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Four seconds into this video reveals on a road sign on the right that tells me that I'm only eight miles from Carson City at this point.

And finally, I included this video because you can now see the snow-capped peaks I shall soon pass by on my way to the Lake Tahoe area. That night, I camped at a KOA in South Lake Tahoe, California at an elevation of more than 6,000 feet. The surrounding moutains rise to well over 10,000 feet at some peaks. By comparison, Fallon is at an elevation of just under 4,000 feet.

In my next blog post I'll write about my entry into California and the Tahoe area.

As always, keep the shiny side up and pray for a short winter.

-The Long Rider 

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