By Eilene Lyon
I asked my iPhone for the shortest route from Georgetown, California, to Durango, Colorado. When it came to Nevada, going across the middle wasn’t presented as an option, even if I said to omit the interstates.
So I specifically told Siri to give me directions from Reno, Nevada, to Great Basin National Park on the east side of the state taking U.S. 50. Again, my Apple map app refused to acknowledge the existence of this route, known as the Loneliest Road in America.
Siri’s options told me it would take more than 11 hours (!!) to cross the state of Nevada. How absurd. The pony express did it in less than that. (Kidding.)
I’ve driven across the middle of Nevada numerous times. It’s one of the most scenic drives in America, though I know my taste for desert landscapes is not everyone’s cup of tea. Many people aren’t aware that Nevada has more mountain ranges than any state besides Alaska.
I summited at least a dozen passes, though none above 8,000 feet. The best part of the scenery is the fact that almost everything you can see is essentially wilderness. This is nature in the rough. Aside from the two lanes of blacktop, signage, and unobtrusive parallel fences on either side, power lines are about the only manmade infrastructure you’ll see. There’s occasional cattle (avert your eyes!).
As for the time it takes, this is a 70-mph road and after leaving Fallon, you’ll not slow down for a town until you reach Austin, 110 miles away. From Reno to Ely takes about 6 hours, assuming you’re the type to obey speed limits. It’s true that you might not see another vehicle for miles at a time.
I’m always tempted to stop and take pictures as I traverse this wild state. On this trip, the clouds were dramatic and the weather quite variable. The high peaks were still clad in winter white. Where there was grass, it was as emerald as it ever gets.
The problem is, if I start stopping to take photos, I won’t stop stopping to take photos. Then it really will take me 11 hours to cross – and it won’t be Siri’s fault.
The weather. Yes, you never know what you’re going to get. I’ll never forget my first time on U. S. 50. I ended up driving in six inches of fresh snow that was coming down hard…on winding mountain passes…in the dark…in May.
Just make sure you have a full tank, and it can’t hurt to have food, water, and a sleeping bag with you if you decide to drive the Loneliest Road. Because Apple intends to make sure it stays that way.