In our experience, Highway 50 is a nice long stretch (more than 300 miles) of remarkably untraveled highway. It’s a narrow ribbon wending through high desert, blanketed by sagebrush, with views of mountains on the horizon. It’s true that towns are few and far between—mostly tiny, rough around the edges, and with only the most basic amenities. And it’s definitely a good idea to top off your gas tank at every opportunity, which occurs about every 75-100 miles.
Surprisingly Soul-Soothing Nevada
One does not generally link “Nevada” and “soul-soothing” in the same sentence. But that’s pretty much how I’d describe our cruise down Highway 50. After leaving the spectacular vistas of Great Basin National Park, we headed due west.
Although we only made a couple of stops in our journey along “The Loneliest Highway,” they were memorable in a somewhat bizarre way.
Petroglyphs And Goats
Located about halfway along Highway 50 is a rustic BLM campground. There are no hookups, and no water available—but it’s free. The petroglyphs are what attracted us. After all of the fabulous petroglyphs we’ve seen in our travels in the southwest, these were underwhelming. But the scenery is beautiful and the campground is peaceful.
We arrived and thought we were alone until we saw three goats ambling through our site. I did a double take, trying to make sense of what I was seeing. The goat owners soon followed, a young couple traveling from northern California to their new home in Colorado. The goats traveled in comfort in the back of their small pickup truck. We spent an enjoyable couple of hours hiking with the goat family on the trails above the campground. It was a surreal and yet somehow absolutely perfect Highway 50 experience.
About 100 miles from Austin is Sand Mountain, another BLM site with a campground. We had considered camping here, but I’m so glad we didn’t. We stopped for a picnic lunch, and realized that this is a campground for ATV’ers, and far from peaceful. But it was interesting watching the them buzzing up and down the sandhill, like little ants.
There’s more to explore on The Loneliest Highway, but those adventures will have to wait for another road trip. If you find yourself needing to traverse Nevada, have no fear of traveling Highway 50. You likely have all the skills you need to survive the journey.
Believe it or not I lived in Austin Nevada….
Lydia, somehow I just can’t envision you there! How was the music scene?? :-)
Hiking with goats! That’s not something many RV bloggers can claim! Loved the pics of them on the cliff top.
It was (momentarily) a surreal experience as I tried to figure out just what I was seeing! The goats looked so at home on top of the cliffs.
What a…unique…trip:) Coming upon the goat family was so neat. People travel with a variety of pets but goats!? How interesting! The photos with the goats in them are great:)
Haha, yes, it was “unique.” I was delighted to come upon the goat family because I’ve always wanted to hike with goats (I read an article one time about backpacking with goats and thought it would be fun). They were such a sweet couple, and so devoted to taking good care of their goats.
We traveled that stretch of hwy 50 back in 1981 and it was quite the experience for this Chicago suburbanite.I was quite uncomfortable and certainly out of my element. Now, I can’t wait to travel it again. Oh, how fun to hike with those goats – great timing.
I can only imagine how strange and desolate Hwy 50 must have felt to a city girl! It’s definitely an interesting route across Nevada — you never know what you’re going to see. We loved hiking with the goats!
We really enjoyed our drive on this highway and I highly recommend doing it with a copy of the Pony Express CD to accompany you. It’s available at visitors centers along the route (we picked ours up in Ely) or online: http://goldcreekfilms.com/ponyexpresscd.html
Lots of interesting history about the route, very well done CD.
Lisa, I wish we had gotten the Pony Express CD. Next time we travel that route, we’ll be sure to do so. You and Hans did a great job of exploring the historical sites along Hwy 50 — unfortunately, we needed to move quickly to make appointments we had in Ashland.
Sometimes this is just what is needed to completely decompress and reconnect with our inner being, not that I’m sure I would have wanted to travel all 300 miles of this highway. ;) Love the goats!
LuAnn, the miles actually went by quickly because it’s so little traveled and the landscape is quite lovely. We think it’s one of the easier routes across Nevada—a state we’ve had to cross many times traveling from our hometown in southern Oregon.
We’ve been across 50 a couple times and love the comment “wouldn’t recommend it”… We liked it so much that we’ll probably do it again. :)
Pretty funny, huh? We’ll do it again, too.
I have to say I think I could skip it and not feel cheated. :-)
I understand your feeling — but there is something intriguing about such remote country, and it’s quite beautiful. Given that our hometown is in southern Oregon, traveling across Nevada is often the most direct route for us. So we might as well make the best of it!
I just love the idea of pet goats that hike along beside you. A once in a lifetime experience I’d say. What fun and what a serendipity! That alone would make Highway 50 go way up on my list of great places. I just love the pictures of the goats with Eric and just hiking along. Now the ATV campground not so much. Why do we have to let these people destroy the landscape? Sand dunes are not indestructible.
Sherry, it was a wonderful serendipitous experience to come across the goat family — and to have them invite us to hike along with them. I’ve always wanted to hike with goats. I agree with you about the ATV campground — that’s pretty much our idea of a nightmare camping experience. No way would we camp there.
Love that golden sunset! The highway looked so desolate not sure if Steve would travel that way. So thank you for experiencing it for us.
On the other hand Steve would probably hike with goats as he used to have a pet goat.
That’s great that Steve had a pet goat! I’ve always wanted goats. :-) The highway looks pretty desolate, but it’s a peaceful drive!