Monday, April 28, 2008

The Loneliest Road

It’s 287 miles of US Route 50 in between Fallon and the Utah border in Nevada. It’s called The Loneliest Road in America, for good reason. Even AAA doesn’t recommend driving it. It’s a fine highway, but very, very isolated. It’s not as isolated as when it was the Pony Express Trail or part of the Lincoln Highway, but pretty far out by current standards.

I have only driven a little bit of US 50 in Western Nevada, but it doesn’t take you long to feel you are “out there”. All it takes is a little dust blowing across the road and no cars in sight, and you feel really isolated, really fast. My wife became a bit nervous wondering if we had lost our way.

Nevada tourism folks came up with a fun idea for this “exotic” road. You can pick up free “survival kit” in every town. After completing the survival kit, travelers are rewarded with a survival certificate, a Route 50 lapel pin, and a bumper sticker proclaiming that they have survived this "uninteresting and empty" road. Their survival kit won’t do much if you get stranded, so you are advised to bring along some survival tools as help along the road is miles and miles apart.

The Loneliest Road in America is an official National Scenic Byway. For more information on this byway and other byways around the US, go to

Why is it so lonely? Some political wrangling moved the mainline of the original transcontinental Lincoln Highway as it went west of Salt Lake City. The route was supposed to go southwest from Salt Lake City to the east end of the Loneliest Road near the Utah-Nevada border. Even though private interests had begun to build that highway through what is now the Dugway Proving Grounds, political wrangling moved Lincoln Highway north to the present day route of I-80 and former US 40. So now tons of traffic avoids what could have been a very busy highway, instead of The Loneliest Road in America.