Cooler temps, shorter days, sublime sunsets: It’s a perfect recipe for venturing into the desert during the holidays. Toss in wide-open highways, natural hot springs, funky little towns, and you’ve got all the ingredients for the perfect road trip on Nevada’s Highway 50: The Loneliest Road in America.
Soak and warm your bones in the remote Spencer Hot Springs—a geothermal haven with four bathing tubs made all the more relaxing by the sweeping desert-to-mountain landscape. Nevada’s tiny town of Austin is also nearby, so stop in for some lunch on its historic Main Street. Next up, head to Hickison Petroglyph Recreation Area for a half-mile hike among 10,000-year-old petroglyph engravings by the area’s original inhabitants, the Western Shoshone. The vast desert-scape view from Hickison Summit is magnificent.
On the road again, visit the historic mining towns of Eureka and Ely. Ely’s a good launch point for exploring Garnet Hill, where you can forage for precious keepsake garnet stones. Make a side trip to spend an afternoon at Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park, an awe-inspiring site with six 30-foot-tall beehive-shaped ovens. Or drive a little longer to be rewarded by the incredible glacial beauty and absolute solitude of Great Basin National Park, where the famous Lehman Caves tour is not to be missed. All together now: Are We There Yet?