Covering 563 – 941 kilometres of roadway, Nevada’s picture-perfect Great Basin Highway route makes for a great five-day journey up the state’s eastern edge.
Here’s a look at the highlights …
LAS VEGAS TO VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK
Taking State Route 167 through the Lake Mead National Recreation Area makes for a serene desert drive featuring hills of rust-red sandstone and unparalleled views of Lake Mead, the largest manmade reservoir in the U.S. Wildlife is plentiful here, and you might see wild horses, burros or bighorn sheep.
VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK TO CALIENTE
It’s a two hour and 20 minute drive along Highway 93 from Valley of Fire State Park to Caliente, famous for its rose-lined streets, Spanish mission-style train depot and surrounding network of gorgeous canyons. Mountain bikers may already have Barnes Canyon on their must-do list, and with good reason: it’s home to dozens of miles of singletrack. For hikers, there’s Kershaw-Ryan State Park. Tour operator Bindlestiff Tours (bindlestifftours.com/tours/Nevada-bike-hike-tour/) has a ‘Nevada Trails to Rails’ small group itinerary showcasing this region that’s perfect for advanced beginner to intermediate bike and hike enthusiasts. For rock climbers, there’s Rainbow Canyon, just outside of Caliente. And for birders, there’s Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge. This natural oasis is a twice-yearly stop on the ‘Pacific Flyway’ migration route for waterfowl and songbirds.
CALIENTE TO PIOCHE
Staying on Highway 93, it’s just a 30-minute drive from Caliente to Pioche. The must-see for this stretch of drive is Cathedral Gorge State Park. Found halfway between Caliente and Pioche, this state park is home to otherworldly spires, deep chasms and meandering hikes through slot canyons and scenic overlooks. With such dramatic natural scenes, every turn is a photo op, plus hiking trails and picnicking opportunities can make this a perfect day.
PIOCHE TO ELY
Pioche was once one of the roughest, toughest mining towns in the Old West. These days, Pioche is a charming trip through time, with highlights including the ‘Million Dollar Courthouse’ and infamous Boot Hill Cemetery. In just under two hours along Highway 93 and then Highway 50, travellers can make their way from Pioche to Ely, another mining town with a rich history and now with blocks of bars and restaurants. Be sure to book a ride on the Nevada Northern Railway.
ELY TO GREAT BASIN NATIONAL PARK
Another hour on Highway 50 brings travellers to Great Basin National Park. This gem is home to the oldest living things on earth – the 5,000 year old Bristlecone Pine trees – as well as some of the darkest skies in the U.S., perfect for stargazing. Get down – way down – with a tour in Lehman Caves, or soar 4,000 feet up the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive. The serene, artsy town of Baker makes a great place to call it a night and wrap up an unforgettable Nevada road trip.
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