Today we drove across the great basin of the US. The great basin is an old inland sea that covers most of Nevada and Utah, and parts of California and Oregon. Ton and I have always enjoyed the area. To give you an idea of how remote and varied this area is we drove 600 miles and the largest town we passed thru was Winnemuca Nevada which has a population of 7500 people. Generally it is about 100 miles between towns, and in between towns there is very little to see but mountains and deserts. We started the trip at 200 feet below sea level in Death Valley, and reached an altitude of just over 7000 feet near Austin Nevada. We drove a ridiculous distance today, but really enjoyed ourselves.
We woke up early as we had both fell asleep very early the night before. Since we were up we decided to head on out. We hit the home button on the GPS and it told us it was 896 miles to home following the quickest route. We usually pick a place we are heading for but today we decided to just follow the GPS and to find a place to park for the night when we ran out of steam.
Everything was going as we expected following highway 95, when we drive to Las Vegas we follow US95 from Reno to there so we knew this route, but in Tonopah the GPS told us to turn off 95 and follow US6 instead. We decided what the heck and followed her directions. She had us turn onto Nevada 376 which had us a little worried, but the road looked good so we decided to go ahead. It turned into a fun decision. We found the kind of road we love, heading thru wide open country with high mountains on either side. Towns were few and far between. Near the town of Round Mountain, we came across an immense gold mine which ran for about 8 miles along the road.
Eventually we came to US50 which we followed for about 30 miles to Nevada 305, another wide open road thru a valley called Antelope Valley for about 120 miles. The highlite was another mine which was even bigger than the one at Round Mountain, but we think was for Copper. At the town of Battle Mountain we joined I-80 for about 50 miles before turning north on US97. We followed US 97 to the Nevada/Oregon border and at that point had about 480 miles under our belt. We talked about parking up there, but we were on a roll and decided to keep going.
The last 120 miles were on US97 and OR78 was actually the most remote part of the road yet. For an 80 mile stretch the only man made structures we saw were a Road Maintenance station and a military radar site. When we rolled into Burns it was dark, and the RV park we had stayed in previously in the winter is now closed for the season. We had to scramble for a place to stay, but it was worth it.