Known as the “Loneliest Road in America,” U.S. Route 50 is splendidly desolate, save for the occasional tumbleweeds that blow across the blacktop. Far-flung Ely
was founded as a stagecoach stop and trading post; it later became a major copper mining town. Large murals grace 11 blocks downtown, depicting the varied cultures of the area’s settlers, as do restored Chinese, Greek, French, Slavic, and Spanish houses in Ely Renaissance Village. Rockhounds will rejoice in their finds at Garnet Hill
. A hammer, some gloves, and a little patience are all you need to score semi-precious stones on this public access land. The beehive-shaped Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park
were originally used as ovens for melting ore during the silver rush, but later became a place for outlaws to hole up. Grouse and elk are often spotted in this rolling grassland. With a 32-acre reservoir, Cave Lake State Park
affords visitors the chance to trout fish, hunt for crawdads, kayak, swim in summer, or ice fish, skate, sled, ski, or snowmobile come winter. Near Austin, in a yawning sweep of open desertscape, Spencer Hot Springs
is graced with a spectacular view of the jagged Toiyabe Range. Soak in your birthday suit, if you like.
Where to Stay:
Open roughly from Memorial Day to Labor Day, many accommodations in this part of the state are humble. There are just six RV sites in East Creek Campground
. But if you don’t need hookups, the seclusion of an alder, pinyon, and juniper forest and a perennial stream make this a memorable off-grid experience.