Route 66 Alternative: Route 50, the Loneliest Road

by Travelwyse

Read about Route 50, the Loneliest Road, an alternative to the famous Route 66 and why it's a travaller's gem.

U.S. Route 66 aka Will Rogers Highway was established in 1926 stretching 2,448 miles of tarmac from Chicago to Los Angeles. It’s America’s most famous road and a popular tourist attraction, but there is more from America’s roads to choose from. Here we explore an alternative to U.S. route 66, route 50.

U.S. Route 50


Stretching coast to coast from Ocean City, Maryland on the East to West Sacramento, California on the West, Route 50 is longer than Route 66 by around 600 miles, over 3,200 miles in total. More tarmac for your enjoyment.

Described as the Loneliest Road because of its log, harsh stint through Nevada, you'll soon understand why as it meanders through rural desert and mountains. Your only companion, the desert and the weathers it throws at you. Part seldom human interaction shouldn't be seen as a deterrent though; U.S. Route 50 is a traveller's gem.


Images of Route 50
Michael Summa's 1970's Colorado Pictures
Michael Summa's 197...
The Sierra Nevada, Route 50
The Sierra Nevada, ...
Range and Valley, Nevada
Range and Valley, N...

A Direction, Not an Itinerary


Diversity is route 50's greatest asset. Route 50 passes through 12 states - California, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Nevada and Utah – so don't let the nickname put you off. You get real value for money if seeing as much of Middle-America is your goal.

The traveller's best use of route 50, or any route for that matter, is to use the route as a direction, not an itinerary. With it passing through so many states, plan in advance and go off the main route to the major tourist attractions, stay at a hotel in Nevada for example, and relax. Sure, you'll need a few extra days' holiday for the miles you cover, but at least you get to see more of America. Most travel route 50 as a holiday after all - so enjoy it.


A Tourist Guide

You probably won't find any print-off tourist guides that will make you fully appreciate route 50 as good as a geology book. Even if rocks, mountains and earth isn't your thing, you're going to have a long time to appreciate them, and knowing how and why each piece of mountain was formed will make the trip much more exciting. “Oh look, that's XYZ” or “When you think about it, ABC is more obvious” are the types of phrase you could expect to hear once the geology is set-in.

Travelling with somebody, you'll have a great conversation starter, travelling alone, get the audiobook to keep you company.

Just remember to stop in the middle of nowhere every now and again, stretch your legs and take in the landscape and its ere isolation. Be sure to take a Jerry Can of fuel in case you run out too. It may be a long time before anybody drives by for help – cell reception won't help you too – there's none.


The beautiful sights
Mt. Davidson and Virginia City
Mt. Davidson and Virginia City
Updated: 03/21/2012, Travelwyse
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katiem2 on 06/22/2012

Every year when summer rolls around I imagine how great it would be to take a route 66 vacation. It takes so long to do it right and we never have the time. I keep saying, one of these days! And one of these days I will take by two kids, maybe when they're older. NOW, I'm even more excited to learn there is an alternative vacations similar to the experience of route 66. I'm in Ohio so I could start there. Thanks for the great vacation review. I love road trips, there's nothing like it. :) K

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