for your iPhone
for your iPad
Other Articles

Cameras, Radar, Laser, Oh My!

Are new cars just too good?

2007 Special Corvettes

2007 Detroit Auto Show photos

Satisfying man-urges with a Lotus clone.....

World Car of the Year: 2006 Winners

Ferrari 15,000 Red Miles - Tour of China

Scenes from 55th Concours D'Elegance

Diesel: Friend or Foe

Scenes from 2005 Detroit Car Show (NAIAS)

Tweel: Michelin lets the air out of future tire innovation

500 HP Corvette C6 Z06 Photos and Specifications

Cheating: inside look at NASCAR

The American Mercedes

A return of the Muscle Car wars?

New 2005 Corvette C6 photos and specs

Scenes from the 2004 Detroit International Auto Show

Take 2 Toyota PM and call me in the morning

New BMW 6 Series Convertible

Mercedes debuts innovative paint

Dodge unleashes 500 HP Viper powered Dodge RAM Pickup

The venerable pushrod engine

Where did all the carburetors go?

Technical specifications of Mazda RX-8

Mazda RX-8 poster

Ford GTB Poster

CART Mustang Pace Car poster

2003 Toyota Atlantic Poster

2003 CART Poster

Don't throw away that used cooking grease - How to turn cooking grease into fuel

The new MINI Cooper

Driving a Winston Cup stock car

Honda S2000, One foot over the line?

What does HP have to do with horses

2001 Mercedes CLK55 AMG

69 Shelby Mustang Cobra

2000 Porsche BoxsterS

2000 Plymouth Prowler

2000 Toyota Tundra


AutoRacing1 Inc. BBB Business Review
Advertisement

Part 1: Colorado to California on US Route 50

by Stephen Cox
Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Advertisement

The Hotspot Drive-in
The Hotspot Drive-in in Salina, Utah
Photos by Sopwith Motorsports Television Productions

The Loneliest Road isn't quite as lonely as it once was, but it should still be on the bucket list of every automobile enthusiast.

I drove more than 1,200 miles this summer on America's “Loneliest Road,” US Route 50 West, as part of Rally North America 2018. The event itself was remarkable, featuring incredible scenery, a family-like atmosphere with friendly people and a week of immersion in the automotive lifestyle.

The rally started in Pueblo, Colorado and traveled west through Grand Junction to Salina Utah, then continued across the Great Basin desert on Route 50 to Reno, Nevada.

Rally North America start
Rally North America start

Now hear this. When one thinks of North American deserts, they are generally regarded as inferior and/or somewhat less threatening than legendary whoppers like the African Sahara.

Having now crossed Death Valley, the American Mojave, Sonora and Great Basin deserts as well as spending a full month in the Sahara a few years back, I can say from personal experience that the desert you will cross on US Route 50 West is on par with any in the world.

It is just as dry and hot. Just as beautiful and deadly. And in many places, almost as remote. If your radiator lets go along the 120-mile stretch between Mt. Callaghan and Fallon Station in Nevada, you're going to have a rough day. It's like a scene from an apocalypse movie without the popcorn.

Wide open and foot to the floorboards
Wide open and foot to the floorboards

On the bright side, Route 50 is a speed demon's paradise. There's not much traffic, which makes issuing citations a less profitable enterprise. And “confiscating” the cars of independent-minded motorists is challenging when the nearest tow truck is 100 miles away. I honestly don't remember what the speed limit was because in over 1,000 miles of driving I never saw anyone abiding by it.

The scenery is some of the most striking in all of North America. The route continually winds up into desert mountains, then back down into the dry valley below. You drive a hundred miles through the most desolate country imaginable and then repeat the process.

The ruins of the Cold Springs Pony Express Station
The ruins of the Cold Springs Pony Express Station

You pass no one. The desert valleys are pancake flat and you can see twenty and thirty miles distant. Not a soul in sight. Just you and the rhythmic purr of your engine. At any speed you care to drive.

The towns are small and few. But occasionally you run across a real gem, like the Hot Spot drive in restaurant in Salina, Utah or “The Cup” coffee shop in downtown Ely, Nevada. There are also many historic sites along this route, but two really stood out.

The ruins of the Cold Springs Pony Express Station were stunning. It was like going back in time. I'd tell you how to get there, but it's not near anything. In twenty years of travel across fourteen countries, this is one of the most remote historic sites I've ever seen.

Perhaps that's why the stone ruins are still in near perfect condition after more than 150 years. Start in Reno, drive 90 miles west on Route 50 and look for a historic marker. It's worth the trip. Bring drinking water, a hat and hiking shoes. You'll walk nearly two miles into the desert to see this site, but you'll be glad you did.

The second must-see site is the Museum of the Mountain West in Montrose, Colorado. Tens of thousands of old west artifacts are housed in historic buildings that were saved from the ravages of time and moved to Montrose where they now form a miniature western town from the late 1800's.

The founder and his wife will greet you in the parking lot. Their passion for all things old west is contagious. The museum is only a few minutes detour from Route 50 and very rewarding.

Save up your pennies and prepare your favorite sports car. The thousand mile trek across US Route 50 West is a bucket list experience for any motoring enthusiast.

Stephen Cox
Driver, FIA EGT Championship & Super Cup Stock Car Series
CEO, Sopwith Motorsports Television Productions
Co-host, Mecum Auctions on NBCSN

Feedback can be sent to feedback@autoracing1.com

Go to our forums to discuss this article