We've all heard of the famous Route 66, but what about U.S. Route 50 which has been dubbed, "The Loneliest Road in America"? The US Highway 50 spans 3,017.197 miles and essentially cuts the country right in half. Starting in Sacramento, California it cuts across all the way through beautiful mountain ranges and various terrains to Ocean City, Maryland. It was extended down to San Francisco in 1972. It's one seriously long highway.
Really though, the "The Loneliest Road in America" applies to the portion of the highway in the western part of the country that takes you through Nevada. Anyone who's traveled outside of Eureka can attest to the fact that there is nothing to see but an open road, mountains and blue skies ahead.
The highway dates back two hundred years when there were no major roads for travel outside of trails leftover from the Native Americans. It is believed that Captain William Bicknell helped ideate US 50 since he had helped establish the Santa Fe trail where he traveled selling goods. Railroads followed his path to help establish routes that would lead to the future highway.
The highway really does give you a glimpse into another time in our country's history. The paths used to create the highway were utilized by pioneers years ago so you can really see the development of the United States. Though you do start in Silicon Valley, moving through the old "Wild West" and the central states traveled by famous historical figures like Daniel Boone give you a fun peek back in time. In a 1997 article, Time Magazine even called the highway the "Backbone of America."
If you're interested in taking the ultimate American road trip, this might be it -- if you have some serious time on your hands. Start out in California and see the Golden Gate Bridge before you hit the road and follow the old route of the Pony Express to Lake Tahoe. You can see for yourself what so many travel writers mean when they describe the barren landscape of the Nevada portion.
It doesn't last long because then you move into the Great Basin desert through parts of Utah, which leads you into beautiful mountain passes of Colorado where you can see your fair share of national and state parks. Then you'll follow the Rockies down to the Santa Fe Trail (thanks Bicknell) before entering the Great Plains. Maybe don't plan your trip during tornado season?
You'll get to see some of the major cities of the Midwest like Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri before meandering through Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. The Appalachians will take you through West Virginia (crank up John Denver) before you'll enter Washington DC. Hello, all the free museums you could ever want to visit!
And your trip will conclude on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Tired yet? Road Trip USA has some really helpful travel maps that trace the highway you can utilize on your journey. So next time you're looking for a good road trip that gives you a bit of history, spend some time on Hwy 50 and enjoy all of the small towns, ghost towns and Nevada desert you'll see along the way.