the loneliest road: san francisco CA-----> austin NV-----> baker NV

They are not kidding.

You have to have a lot of mettle to start a road trip across U.S. Route 50. It truly is The Loneliest Road in America, which we read about while planning our trip and set out on deliberately. It's a two lane road and there is NOTHING along the way, save for a few gems closer to Utah. If you are headed east from California, this is a fantastic way to get away from EVERYTHING quickly. It set a nice tone for the beginning of our trip. No giant billboards, no signs of commerce at all. We were on a ROAD TRIP.

We set out on a Saturday morning, stopping in town for what we knew would be our best cup of coffee for a long time. We hooked up with Route 50 east of Reno and Lake Tahoe near the town of Fallon. We had a few snacks with us so we made a strong push that day; one pit stop at an alpine campground, lunch in a Walgreens parking lot and about six hours to our first destination: Austin, Nevada.

The landscape across Route 50 is very beautiful, and very repetitive. A mountain pass would open up before us and reveal another twenty or so more miles of open plains, then another, then another. A daunting looking storm in the distance would turn out to be a fifteen second rain shower when we finally passed through it. We got really lucky with the weather during the trip. It never really rained on us, but the rains throughout the southwest during our two weeks away kept the temperatures in the high 80 to low 90 range. Which was fine by us, we were looking for heat.

When we arrived in Austin we found a living ghost town. Every business was shuttered, and they were all for sale. We had booked two adjoining rooms at one of the only places to stay in town, the rustic but nice Union Street Lodging. We had an iffy and overpriced dinner at one of the two restaurants in town and a nice walk with a beautiful sunset, played some games in the living room (a B & B staple) and went to bed early. 

The second day of our trip we enjoyed a nice breakfast cooked by Dee at the B & B. The weather was beautiful, so we lingered for a while in our jammies before heading out. We stopped by a stone monolith called Stokes Castle (not much of a castle) on the way out of town, but hastily departed when we realized we were being stalked by a giant, super aggressive wasp. It followed our car at least 150 feet back down the hill!

That day we were able to make two stops along Route 50. One at the Hickison Petroglyph Recreation Area for a quick little hike, and then at one of my favorite places of our entire trip, the Nevada Northern Railway Museum. The museum is located in the desolate and struggling town of Ely, Nevada and was such a great find. It's an operating historical railroad. We walked around the rail yard and then into the engine house, where train engines were lined up in rows, some idling and spitting diesel smoke through the openings in the roof. It was greasy and so dirty, and it was totally magnificent. I HIGHLY recommend visiting the museum some day if you find yourself in that area. Really cool.

Hickison hike.

Idling trains in the engine house.

The greasy machine shop.

Let me tell you, there is just about no where to eat in Ely, Nevada. This was one of the days we ate gas station food and washed it down with Coke. So gross. The lack of fresh food across that whole part of the country was really shocking, but that's a whole 'nother story.

After our late "lunch" we headed out to cover the last 70 miles of that day's journey, to a strange little hidden retreat center in Baker, Nevada, just east of Great Basin National Park on the border with Utah. That was the end of The Loneliest Road for us. Two days from San Francisco to the center of the Nevada/Utah border. Not bad!


  1. My children would have relentlessly complained about the drive, but the train museum would have fascinated them. Beautiful pictures!

    1. Thanks, Heather!

      We had a few complaints, but there was a lot of verbal preparation before hand about how we were going to see the countryside and that some days were going to be boring and whatnot. I also brought surprises and pipe cleaners for making things and some treats. Treats go a long way with our kids! :)


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