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Old 07-23-2010, 12:00 PM   #1
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Nevada--getting to Burning Man

This is a monolog on how to avoid the Interstate and love it. To begin with, if you are heading across Nevada from Utah, I encourage you to take US 50, the "loneliest road in America." It's shorter from mid-Utah and almost the same distance, even if you have to swing south from Salt Lake. Here's a map overview for orientation:

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If you're driving from Salt Lake, an interesting piece of art out on the salt flats is the Tree of Utah.

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After turning south on 93 at Wendover, you'll come across a small hill that is marked with 13 shoreline benches from the old Lake Bonneville as it changed depth over the eons (you can see many of them just above the rear end of the Sovereign).

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I've always wanted to know how tight I can turn (not very, it turns out).

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I am compelled to say something about Ely--I had to avail myself of the best little mechanic shop, ever. The hub locking mechanism in my left front wheel started making noise (arrrrgggghh), so I lucked into these guys. When the hub cover came off, parts literally fell out. Ack! Before I could get a cold drink and consider the consequences, they were putting it back together. How, you ask? Well, I've never seen such a wealth of used parts in a small shop. They dug around, found a used part(s), charged me $15 for a very expensive part, if new, and I was on my way in under two hours. Total cost: $99.71. It's good to find honest and helpful workers...

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After you leave Ely and head west, you're looking at crossing 7-ish classic basins in the basin and range geologic area of western Nevada.

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Old 07-23-2010, 12:34 PM   #2
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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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BTW, when they say open range, they mean it.

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Old 07-23-2010, 12:45 PM   #3
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Coming down the west side, it's a bit steeper, but no problem if you stay in lower gears. The pass opens up into really nice territory.

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With a few miles you rejoin US 50 and almost immediately you're upon the Shoe Tree. A few miles past that you have the opportunity to see 6 earthquake fault lines, about 1/2 mile south of the highway.

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Twenty miles further on, you come to a dry lake on the south side and Sand Mountain on the north.

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Just to the east of Sand Mountain, there's another opportunity to see the shoreline benches left behind as the ancient terrain dried out. As you go along the dry lake, you wouldn't want to disregard the modern rock art.

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For those who are eligible, Fallon has a nice fam camp with a laundry.

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OK. Woo Hoo, the Sovereign is in Reno and ready to sortie out to Burning man on 26 Aug!

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Old 07-23-2010, 01:06 PM   #4
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If you're coming across US 6/50 from Delta to Ely, Ibex is an interesting dry lake that is very accessible and interesting to drive across at top speed.

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There are camping opportunities all along the road (it's mostly BLM land), but the best bet is near the summit north of the Great Basin NP, or a little further along and to the north of the highway (several dirt roads off to the north), just before it turns sharply south for a few miles.

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This view of the Bat Cave is taken from the southwest.

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Hope you all have a great trip!

Zep
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Old 07-23-2010, 10:55 PM   #5
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I-80 dump station

BTW, the dump station at exit 42 is open. The exit for Gerlach is 46, so anyone heading west is in clover. or tall cotton.

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Old 07-24-2010, 12:58 AM   #6
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Zep's letting most of our secrets out. He missed a few, some nice petroglyph sites pretty close to some of those pictures. And the wild horses.
I think years ago I had the same shop in Ely change out a 3 speed shift that died on a 78 F100 to a 4speed BorgWagner transmission they had. They ordered a new driveline from Salt Lake and I was on my way next day, for about half the price I'd figured just to fix the 3 speed shifter on the column.
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Old 07-24-2010, 08:32 AM   #7
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Yes, we lived in Washoe Valley in the 70s and 80s. We weren't 'Streamers' then but our Ford van and Coleman popup combo took us over much of Nevada without a worry of where to stay for a night or many........for nothing. Love Nevada.
Neil.
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