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The Loneliest Road in America

central Nevada

Nevada is one of my favorite places to drive, particularly in the central and northern parts of the state. To me, it’s the American version of the Australian Outback, only a lot colder in the winter! Vast stretches of high desert are punctuated by sporadic mountains and hills. Spring and summer bring wildflowers and rolling rainstorms. It’s a joyously imposing landscape that goes on and on and on and on. That’s why Life magazine dubbed this part of US 50 “The Loneliest Road in America” in 1986. And the nickname stuck. The highway cuts through the middle of Nevada, from California to Utah. The lonely part is the 323-mile stretch from Fallon to the Utah state line. Yes, it’s paved and very well-maintained with gas stations and various attractions along the way. Two in particular are worth a stop. To the west, Sand Mountain Recreation Area is a huge, white dune near Fallon. Toward the middle, Hickison Petroglyph Recreation Area features10,000-year-old rock carvings and a moderate hiking trail with sweeping views. If you like infinite skies, sagebrush and blasting the car stereo without offending anyone, this is the drive for you.

Best Time to Visit

Year-round but winter can get very cold and stormy in the high desert.  Be sure to check road conditions.

Major Towns

Fallon to the west and Ely to the east have good services.  There’s not a lot in-between, hence the “lonely” part and so plan accordingly.  About an hour west of Fallon, always entertaining Reno has a plethora of hotels, restaurants and, of course, casinos.

Route & Map        

US 50 from Fallon, NV to the Utah state line


323 miles


Plan on at least 6 hours with rest stops. The Sand Mountain (near Fallon) and Hickison Petroglyph (near Austin) recreation areas are worth a look so make time for them, too.


Travel Nevada has a Loneliest Road guide as well as pages on   

Sand Mountain and Hickison Petroglyph recreation areas.

Next rides along this route:
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