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Discussion in 'West – California, the desert southwest and whatev' started by markherman, Sep 7, 2005.
tell me about this hwy and why i should take it rather than I-80.
From Sacramento to up past Lake Tahoe, 50 is a much more scenic route IMO as well as more fun for a bike...
I assume you are referring to the Nevada portion, which has fame as the "Loneliest Road in the World". It isn't, quite, but it is two lane twisty bliss of a ride. Nevada is essentially a series of north-south mountain ranges separated by desert valleys that are usually no more than 20 miles wide. On 50 you get a twisty mountain to cross every few minutes, separated by a straight run through a flat valley were you are often the only vehicle in sight and velocities can become felonious.
Beware police in Austin watching for speeders, paricularly motorcycles.
hwy 50 is quite high, even the valleys are 5-6000ft.
Eureka is a nice little town in the middle of the state. The "big" motel was quite nice (don't remember the name), the chinese restaurant was good, and the hdwre store owner is a biker and checked some internet weather for me. All on the main drag within a couple of blocks of each other.
To the west of Eureka (before Ely) there is a "summit" with a turn-out. On the north side of the hwy is a gnarled tree that looks like a bristle-cone pine. I'm not that good with plants and it probably isn't, but you might check it out. It was snowing a blizzard when I went thru so couldn't take a picture.
Hwy 50 across Nevada isn't all THAT great on a motorcycle, but it's a damn sight more interesting than I80. There are some interesting little towns, some nice mountain passes, some great scenery and a few curves. It also approximates the Pony Express route, and several of the old stations can still be seen along the way.
I like to stay in Ely at this place. http://www.hotelnevada.com/ Interesting history, decent food and quite motorcycle friendly, in my experience.
If you have time, the Great Basin National Park east of Ely is a nice place to stop and even camp. Ride to the top of Mt. Wheeler (second highest peak in the state, and, yes, there are ancient brislecone pines there) and be sure to take the tour of Lehman Cave, it's well worth it.
There's a nice alternate route that leaves Hwy 50 to the south just west of Austin. It's the old Hwy 50, and cuts through the Desatoya Mountains rather than going around them. It rejoins the new Hwy after about 50 miles. For my money, that's one of the nicest parts of the road for a motorcycle.
If you have time, you can also detour south to Berlin-Ichthyasaur State Historic Park, which is a mildly interesting ghost town and fossil site in a nice setting. There's a nice campground there, too, if the weather's not too hot.
If you're into history, there's a nice museum in Fallon, and, of course, Virginia City is just off the Hwy a few miles east of Carson City.
To most Nevadan riders the only value of I80 is to make time. Besides, US50 is the safer road. And if you're mounted on an adventure touring bike, it is a most interesting route as it lets you get off an ride along the old Pony Express Trail and on the odd day you get to watch some Top Gun training out between Austin and Fallon as they are based out of Fallon these days. Most days you have a good chance of seeing wild mustangs. In adition to the side trips mentioned, coming into Ely you pass the turnoff up to the geographic center of the Great Basin, North of Ely you have the Ruby Mountains. Just short of Fallon there is the Grimes Point Petroglyphs and Spirit Cave (BLM provides a cave tour if you call ahead, otherwise its locked). In Ruth, an old company mining town the old drug store is the local museum and it is stocked as the owners left it in the 1950s. There are also the Hickison Petroglyphs, the Cape Horn Overland Stage Station, numerous other stage stations and pony express stations if you know where to look. If you take the Pony Express Trail west of Fallon you can even take in Fort Churchill, an old army fort built to protect Virginia City from the CSA.
Ain't none of this good stuff along 80. I80 is just the fastest way from Reno to Salt Lake City.