When you're one mile east
of Austin, you'll be up at 7,500'. Good dirt roads go into the national forest (no trees in sight) on both sides of the summit. On the north, you go over a small rise to find a nice meadow with a marsh in the center, with elk, fox, and other wildlife. If you go about 1/2 mile, you find level spots along the road and some great views. You might find yourself sharing a camp with a herd of sheep. This is the highest (and coolest, in both senses of the word) campsite you'll find along highway 50. In the left photo you can see the road down to the highway from the top of the rise and a semi-truck stopped there.
I'd camped at Austin previously and loved it, but it was too early in the day to stop. If you elect to pass through Austin in the daytime, you'll find rock and silver shops, as well as tourist ice cream, etc.
A few miles west of Austin route 50 splits, with the old route heading south (now named Nevada 722). This is a great road, if you want decent pavement into really remote country. For example, there is no electricity to the residents--a real surprise in this day and age. There's a dry lake that's 10 miles long and a farmer with a whale tail. It would take a lot of work on the windows and access doors, but the only major damage is the dent in the aft street side panel, which is a single curve surface and easy to replace. I'm sure he'd sell it (serial # 6557). (I have other photos to post in a separate thread.)
Moving on, you'll pass a sign that says "Limited Maintenance next 29 Miles." If this is limited maintenance, I'd like some in Colorado. There isn't a single pothole in the entire road, but it is a little choppy from small ridges in the pavement from the temperature extremes--sort of like driving over a rough concrete road. The entrance to the mountains has a beautiful small farm nestled in alluvial fan.
The summit is 7,500' and it's an easy climb coming from the east. At 5 PM it was 86 degrees, but in the morning it was 53. Really nice evening hiking and great sleeping. There is a cattle guard at the summit and a small area on the right where you can turn around (the dirt road in the photo is misleading--it's steep. you can see the cattle guard and turnaround in the background). If you miss this turn, you won't find a place to turn around until you go down 700' in elevation (about 3 miles), where you'll find a wonderful flat area on the left that could easily hold 5 tow vehicles with Airstreams. This could be a great group campsite. But I digress--there are two places to camp at the summit. I passed the best one because I couldn't see it on the way up. It's about a quarter mile before the summit, on the left. You can see from the photo that you're climbing in a wide open area and that little dirt road would be easy to miss. Note the loop the end that could take at least two tow vehicles with Airstreams.
The camp I stopped at is just a 100 yards further along, on the right. There's only one spot that's level, about 50 yards up the dirt road, but it's a spectacular view and a nice campsite.
BTW, when they say open range, they mean it.