The Loneliest Road in America

On our way home from Reno on our road trip this past July, we ended up taking a road I had never heard of before. We saw that we were going to be taking a route called Highway 50 for a few hundred miles. At first, I honestly didn’t think twice about it. I thought that this would just be another road, same as any other.

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Highway 50 actually stretches across the entire United States, from California to Maryland. It is 3,008 miles (4,841 km) long. As we were entering the highway, we saw a sign that said “Highway 50, The Loneliest Road in America.” This was a little unexpected to see, but I was excited to see if it actually lived up to the name. It turned out that this “normal” road just might turn out to be another highlight of our trip.

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The stretch that we were on has nine small towns, two abandoned mining camps, and several mountain ranges.

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The first things that I noticed was that it is a two-lane road. The second thing I noticed was that there was basically no one around.

Apparently, a long time ago it was said to avoid this road; however, I am really glad that I had the experience.

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There was so much beautiful scenery around that it was hard to get bored for a long time. We would occasionally go through a very small town, where to usuallyΒ 80mph speed limit would slow down to around 20mph. The towns would last for less than 5 minutes, so if you are ever on this road and think you need to stop, you might want to take the opportunity.

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After a few hours, I started to notice that the distant ground looked really white. I eventually realized that we were in Utah, and these were salt flats. Being pretty excited about this, we pulled over at a random gravel road and drove over to the flats.

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We began to walk out on the flats. The ground at first was how you would expect, really flat and hard. After a couple of minutes, the ground started to get softer. Before we knew it, we were up to our ankles in this very sticky gray clay material. It was quite hard to get out of, but we finally made our way back to the car.

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Seeing as there was no town around, we wiped off our feet the best we could and had to wait until we got to a gas station around an hour later to really get the already drying clay off.

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There were also many, many pull-offs on the road. There were no services on these pull-offs, but the views were always amazing.

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All in all, I quite enjoyed this road. Don’t expect to see many people, and if you were to break down it may take a while for assistance to arrive, but I would definitely drive on this road again oneΒ day if only for the views.

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Would you take this road given the opportunity, or do you prefer civilization?

-Haley

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About voyagesofmine

Travels, Photography and Reviews from Knoxville, TN

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165 Comments on “The Loneliest Road in America”

  1. Yes, I have taken many trips on highway 50 through Nevada. My family frequents Nevada for exploration and adventures. There are plenty of ghost and old mining towns to visit along the way, and quite a bit of American Gold Mining history. Thank you for sharing those phenomenal pictures. Where were you headed?

    1. That’s awesome! It is such an interesting area to drive through. We were actually leaving the Reno area and headed back to Knoxville, TN. I’m so thankful that we got to experience this road! I’d actually love to drive on it again one day.

  2. Wow, what gorgeous views! I think I drove on a little stretch of it a few years ago between Vegas and Phoenix, but I can’t recall exactly. There are a lot of lonely roads in the high desert, it turns out. Now I want to go on a road trip!

      1. How odd that you couldn’t leave a comment – were you on WordPress Reader? I think you have to go to my site itself to leave a comment. Thanks for visiting! πŸ™‚

  3. There’s definite big-time romanticism associated with driving road trips. Many years ago, a friend and I drove across Canada from Vancouver to Ottawa. The drive took 7 days with various stop. At a distance of over 4400 kilometres (2700 miles), the length of the trip only covers about two-thirds of the country. Also, on separate trips over a span of years, I’ve essentially driven the entire length of the north-south I-5 along the western United States. I’d like to spend more time driving a number of (famous) highways throughout the U.S.

    1. That trip across Canada sounds amazing! I would love to do that one day. Highways definitely have a different feel as opposed to interstate systems. I hope to cover many more of both! πŸ™‚

  4. Hi Haley,

    This is both eerie and fascinating too.

    Love it.

    Because here in NJ, we see so few truly uninhabited areas, in the most population dense state in the US. 12 million people, and you get from top to bottom via car in 3 hours. Yikes.

    We did experience solitude when staying in a remote Costa Rican jungle 2 years ago. Relaxing, peaceful and maddening by the time the 6 week house sit expired. Loneliness and doing the same 2 things daily drove me batty.

    Thanks for sharing Haley.

    Ryan

    1. Ryan,
      I’ve had the pleasure of visiting New Jersey twice so far, and I’ve really enjoyed it! I find that I enjoy both really populated areas as well as areas with literally no one. I think I like just how different they are from one another.

      I can’t imagine staying in a jungle in Costa Rica! I would totally do it, because I bet that was a one of a kind experience (even if it did get old after 6 weeks!) πŸ™‚

      Haley

  5. Love your photos and descriptions! The only part of Hwy50 I’ve been on is from Sacramento, CA to South Lake Tahoe. Stunning, beautiful trip over the pass anytime of year. Winter can be an adventure because of mudslides and snow on the two-lane winding highway ;-). Love your blog. Following!

  6. Wow! Beautiful pictures!
    I got the traveling bug at a young age. My family moved over 60 times before I was 14. We covered territory from California to Georgia and back again.
    I married a military man and thought we’d move a lot. However, in his almost 25 years of service, we only had 2 actual moves. We had a few temporary duty assignments (TDY), but no actual moves, go figure! Ironic, to say the least.
    I’m looking forward to going through your blog and enjoying your travels and pictures!

    1. Wow! I’ve always enjoyed moving too, but I’ve only done it three times total so far! I definitely hope to move quite a few more times. Thanks so much for reading and for your comment! πŸ™‚

      1. I hope you get the chance to move to some more places you love!
        You are very welcome! I enjoyed your story. I’m looking forward to reading more. πŸ™‚

  7. Thank you for the like on our first post! Your whole blog is incredible, as a Canadian who takes many trips to the US, ill be looking on your site for my next travel adventure!

    Love,

    iHeartToronto

  8. Thank you for liking β€œLuna’s.” Nice post! I went to Reno or Lake Tahoe with my parents a long time ago, so I probably traveled down Highway 50 at least part of the way on that trip. However, it was winter when I went there. The landscape looks so different without snow! I enjoyed seeing the beautiful scenery on this lonely stretch of highway during the summer. Thanks for sharing.

      1. The winter scenery was beautiful, but the snow made it difficult to see most of the of the rock formations and trees near the road.

        Like you, I have not seen much snow in my life. However, I do not mind because I do not think I would enjoy driving in the snow. πŸ˜€

        Thank you for following my blog. πŸ™‚

  9. You made me quite nostalgic of my road trip in New Mexico all the way back in 2010 — so, thank you for that πŸ™‚ I’d been living in New Jersey for a couple of years at the time, so it was especially shocking to drive through such empty two-lane highways much like the ones you describe in your post — we almost ran out of fuel, not realizing the next gas station north of Roswell wouldn’t come in another 70 miles!! — we were already well into the reserve when we finally reached it :p

    Thank you for visiting my blog — i’m glad you enjoyed my Grams of Inspiration, and hope you’ll come back for more — they’re published every Thursday, and you can also sign up for our mailing list if you want to get them delivered straight to your inbox a couple of days earlier πŸ˜‰

    Cheers,
    Mika

  10. We drove this road in the late 1980s. It is lonely as they say and has some very intriguing scenery. The minor paved state highways in Nevada (such as NV 375) are even lonelier with less auto traffic. It is almost like being in another world at times.

  11. Never heard of this road before, but I love Utah an Arizona! I love road tripping out west, so I would definitely take this road (:

  12. I would like a little of both. Sometimes one feels the need to get away from too much civilization and then once nature has revived you, it’s time to meet up with others again. Thanks for the follow.

    1. There were definitely many areas where we had no service, but when we would come around to another town then we had it again. Luckily there were not many turn offs so we couldn’t really get lost πŸ™‚

  13. I would definitely take this trip. I remember a desolate highway in Arizona that ran along the border. It actually got a little scary because one car followed us for awhile until we arrived at a town with just two buildings 😱

  14. I drove the loneliest highway some years ago from just outside Reno up to Elko Nevada I believe. Back then I was an archeologist and had done some work if I remember right at Fallon Naval Air Station. We had done some prehistoric archeological surveys using a helicopter to reach some fairly isolated radar or other sites. I don’t remember the exact sequence but we found ourselves driving up Highway 50 from around Reno to Elko and noticed that this was the route I believe that the Pony Express took and there were historic sites along the highway marking that use. The loneliness was tantalizing and we checked the gas gauge in the car a number of times and kept an anxious eye on the car temperature since most of the places we went through were not connected whatsoever to any other places. There were mining towns and these amazing vistas of desert and the road leading forever onward. It was a desolate yet magnificent feeling that this road with its two lanes cut inexorably across one of the most beautiful landscapes I had ever seen. I’m a desert rat at heart and wandered over the Mojave and Great Basin deserts way back when doing professional archeology. This felt like a strange and other worldly trip and we both laughed to see signs proclaiming houses of prostitution with no electrical power along the way. Mining towns, old historic remnants, long reaching vistas. They all marked our trip to Elko. I will never forget the loneliest highway in America. I may not ever drive it again but there are some drives one should do once. Highway 50 is one of those.

    1. Hi Michael, your descriptions of the area is so perfect. We actually almost ran out of gas once, but luckily made it to a gas station just in time. I definitely agree that everyone should do this drive at least once. It sounds like your experience was very interesting! Thanks so much for your comment.

  15. Thank you for sharing your photos and for writing about the loneliest road…It makes me want to drive it now, well when we eventually get to America. Australia has Nullarbor Plains. I think it starts from South Australia heading towards the west and I was told that it a long and boring drive…One day hubby and I will do that.

    1. I’m sure the drive along Nullarbor Plains would be worth it, if only for the story! I’ve been really thinking about when I can get to Australia one day. I’m just not sure if to visit in the summer or the winter! Thanks for reading and for your comment!

      1. Summer in Australia can be humid and hot…so visiting the beaches is perfect. Winter here is mild especially in Queensland. I tell you what. I will do a blog about this after Christmas.

      2. If you want to visit the outback or the north go in the southern winter ….cool nights but beautifully clear days, perfect for road trips.

  16. Your pictures are beautiful. It is worth taking a risk driving on this one road you drove. but honestly, I would think hard before I even do it. it is really too lonely. But well I am so glad you stopped at my blog. Thank you for the follow it was great and I appreciate that so very much and I returned the favour. I hope our communications will continue. A lovely week to you. cheers!

  17. Recently my wife and I watched the movie Independence Day, and during the scene where Will Smith’s character is pulling the alien across what looks like the salt flats, we both said we’d love to visit there someday. Thanks for the pictures and your description.

  18. Enjoyed the fabulous photos in your article on the loneliest road!
    Thanks for being neighbourly and popping over to see my blog on arts and life at http://www.commaand.co Glad you liked my blog post on Julia Child and her husband’s photography. It’s like going back in time, to see Paris in the 1950s.

  19. Got to feel the road in your words! Did you feel a little worried about the lack of emergency services, just in case the car had an issue? Wondering..This was part of my plan when I was in the US in May/Jun and had to skip it as my trip days were reduced due to some commitments. Do look forward to driving through Monument Valley, Four Corners etc…let us see when the stars align…

  20. I love the photos in your blog. We travelled through that area when my kids were much longer. What I remember most was the incredible heat when we got out (it was the middle of summer) and the scenery, which was so different from anything I had experienced.

  21. Thanks for writing this great blog. I really enjoyed reading it. In answer to your question yes I’d prefer to take this road any day! You pictures are fantastic and I was there on the journey with you. I love exploring different places and would one day very soon love to take this road so I can experience it for myself.

  22. I lived in Utah for about 10 years in my youth and my then boyfriend, now husband, and I explored so much of UT and Nevada, we probably were on this road at some point. Your post made me want to go back and take another look at how beautiful Earth can be!

  23. Great photos and story. My dream is to spend some time in the Utah area exploring Bryce and Zion, some day. The mountains and skies in your photos are very dramatic.

  24. Thanks for checking out my blog. I am sure glad I found yours. Not that it is helping my cabin fever. LOL. Now I am even more anxious to get back on the road. There are so many wonderful and beautiful locations to visit. My bucket list just keeps growing. Thanks for sharing.

  25. Looks beautiful and look like a sight to see with all the scenery however, I personally would be a bit hesitate to take this road let alone be on this road only being I’d be so scared of what may happen because I’m such a scardy cat from all those horror movies lol

  26. Thanks for liking my blog; the feeling is mutual! I am getting bolder as I get older, so would probably take the adventurous route. Loved your photos! Keep writing!

  27. In late August 2010, my brother-in-law joined me when I took my granddaughter her car out to USAFA in Colorado Springs, CO. We wanted to take a step back in time and drove RT. 50 from MD. It was 850 or so miles to Pueblo where we exited onto I-25 N. The road less taken, I’d recommend it to everyone, a real education into the past.

  28. HAD to click on this title for my first visit to your blog. I’ve been on stretches of it across the U.S. but not the part you drove, which I’d like to do. Thanks for visiting Under Western Skies. Travel on.

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