The Loneliest Road (US-50 Driving Route) – Road Trip USA

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From sea to bright sea, the backbone of America goes through 11 states and some of the most beautiful scenery in the country.

Along its more than 3,000-mile journey from sea to shining sea, US-50 goes through the middle of America, going from coast to coast. It goes through 12 states and 4 state capitals, as well as Washington, DC, which is the nation’s centre. The road goes through some of the most beautiful parts of the country, including the Sierra Nevada, the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains, the Great Plains, which are full of farmland, and Utah and Nevada, which are dry deserts. It goes backwards through time to show how the country has changed since the early days. If you go from west to east, you can go through the cutting edge high tech of Silicon Valley, the Wild West frontier of the mid-1800s, and lands that Daniel Boone and many others mapped out in the 1700s. You’ll end up near the Atlantic Ocean, near some of the oldest and best-preserved colonial-era landscapes in the United States.

US-50 goes all the way across the country and through hundreds of old, worn-out small towns. Most of these towns have escaped the modern invasion of Walmarts and fast food chains. William Least Heat-Moon, author of Blue Highways, says this about US-50: “for the leisurely, this little-known highway is the best national road across the middle of the United States.” It gives such an interesting look at the country that Time magazine once spent an entire issue telling the story of what they called the “Backbone of America.”

San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Photo © S. Borisov/123rf.
San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Photo © S. Borisov/123rf.

In order to get from San Francisco to Nevada, the road goes through the middle of California, passing by Sacramento, which is the state capital. It then follows the old Pony Express route up into the Sierra Nevada to Lake Tahoe and into Nevada. The Nevada part of the road, which has been called “The Loneliest Road in America” by travel writers and tourism boards, is one of the most beautiful long drives in the country—if you like seeing nothing but mountains, sagebrush, and blue sky for miles and miles. The Great Basin desert continues through half of Utah. The path then goes up over the Wasatch Front and into the red rock country of the Colorado Plateau, which is full of national parks.

As you go east, you’ll cross the Continental Divide high above the Rockies and then follow the famous Santa Fe Trail along the Arkansas River. This part of the trip through the Great Plains is great for people who are interested in lost Americana. The landscape of water towers, windmills, railway tracks and small towns keeps repeating itself in a way that is almost hypnotic.

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After cutting Missouri in half from Kansas City to St. Louis, US-50 crosses the Mississippi River and goes through the farming heartlands of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. This is a much older and more settled landscape. After going up into the Appalachian backwoods of West Virginia, US-50 quickly comes out into the rich and powerful downtown area of Washington, DC. It then goes through the still-beautiful fishing and farming communities on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

  • Interesting Places to See on the Loneliest Road South One of the largest and deepest lakes in the United States is Lake Tahoe, which you can visit.
  • Carson City, NV is Nevada’s main city. It was named after the explorer Kit Carson and has a lot of history from the Wild West.
  • You can find peace and quiet in Great Basin National Park, Nevada, which has alpine woods, glacial lakes, wildflowers, and old bristlecone pines.
  • You must see Canyonlands and Arches National Parks in Utah. These two parks have dry wilderness, high plateaus, deep valleys, and sandstone arches.
  • In Colorado, the Million Dollar Highway is a standard two-lane tarmac that winds through the wildest and roughest peaks in the Colorado Rockies. It’s a great place to take a scenic drive.
  • Garden of Eden in Lucas, KS: See one of the oldest and strangest folk art settings in the country. This is the kind of place that brings back the Gothic in American Gothic.
  • In Kansas City, MO, there are a lot of museums to choose from. This city is full of history.
  • Serpent Mound, OH: See two interesting artefacts from the Mound Builder people who lived in this part of Ohio in the past.
  • In Manassas and Arlington, VA, you can see the site of the first major land fight of the Civil War and the graves of more than 400,000 U.S. soldiers, sailors, and civil servants.
  • Washington, D.C.: See the buildings that represent almost 200 years of American political history. Then, choose from museums that display everything from ancient art to the first aeroplanes.
  • Ocean City, Maryland – The best collection of old-time amusement rides in the Mid-Atlantic can be yours for a fun-filled day or long weekend.

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