Scenic Drives in Nevada

Nevada > Scenic Drives

Nevada is a large, empty state with comparatively few roads. Most of the main highways run north-south, along the many parallel basins between generally impassable mountain ridges of the Great Basin Desert, although there is only one direct road across the whole state - US 93, near the border with Utah. Three roads cross from east to west; I-80 to the north, the lonely highway US 50 across the center, and US 6/NV 375 further south. Also notably scenic are NV 376 and NV 305, together forming a 200 mile route between Tonopah and Battle Mountain, right in the middle of the state. As Nevada has few major natural landmarks, the reason for driving is generally to visit the many smaller sites - historic places, ghost towns, old mines, hot springs, hidden side roads, or just to see the land itself.

A grand tour of the Southwest will generally involve a crossing of Nevada at some point along one of the highways listed above, and there are a variety of other scenic routes, including:
  • SSR 167

    - a 40 mile drive through a colorful rocky landscape near to the northwest shoreline of Lake Mead.

  • US 95

    - from Beatty to Tonopah - 95 miles of hypnotic desert scenery with wide plains and distant mountains, between Death Valley and the huge Nellis Air Force Base. After Tonopah highway 95 continues northwestwards, merging with I-80 for one long stretch, and later enters Oregon and Idaho.

  • NV 447

    - a little-travelled route starting from I-80 east of Reno that leads past Pyramid Lake, the largest body of water in Nevada, and on into the most remote part of the state - a wild land of salt flats, dry lakes, mountains and scattered volcanic features. The road becomes unpaved at the small settlement of Gerlach, circles the Black Rock Desert and continues through more empty wilderness into California.

  • NV 156/157

    - a short diversion near Las Vegas; this scenic loop road climbs into the Spring Mountains towards Mount Charleston, one of the highest peaks in the state at 11,918 feet. En route there is a quick transition in vegetation zones, from desert to Alpine.

Nevada Scenic Highways

  • I-80 - the main cross-state highway, between Reno and Wendover
  • US 50 - lonely east-west route across the center of the Great Basin Desert
  • US 93 - long drive from Lake Mead north into Idaho, in part a National Scenic Byway
  • NV 305 - Austin to Battle Mountain; 88 miles with no significant settlements
  • NV 375 - the 'Extraterrestrial Highway', close to Nellis Air Force Base and Area 51
  • NV 376 - Tonopah to Austin, alongside the Toiyabe and Toquima mountains
  • Photographs

  • Roadside views in Nevada
  • photograph
    The Extraterrestrial Highway
    Caliente Station

    Ruins along NV 305
    US 6

    Nevada stateline
    Camp stop
    Similar roads

    Santa Fe to Roswell - journey along the back roads of New Mexico

    Route 66 - long stretches of the famous road survive in Arizona, California and New Mexico


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