In truth, Highway 50 is a nice long stretch (more than 300 miles) of remarkably untraveled highway, 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 fill your gas tank at every opportunity—about every 75-100 miles.
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.
• Hickison Petroglyphs. Located about halfway along Highway 50 is a rustic (very rustic) BLM campground, approximately 25 miles east of Austin. There are no hookups, and no water—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 are—to be polite—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, and then met the goat owners—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.
• Sand Mountain. About 100 miles from Austin is Sand Mountain, another BLM site and also a campground. We had considered camping here, but I’m oh so glad we didn’t—we stopped for a picnic lunch, and realized that this is a campground for ATV’ers. Not our idea of a good time, at all. But it was kind of interesting watching the ATV’ers buzzing up and down the sandhill, like busy little ants.The sign at the campground made us absolutely certain that this was not our kind of campground. (See photo below.)
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.[portfolio_slideshow]