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Reno to Las Vegas - Good Ride?, best route?(6 posts)

Reno to Las Vegas - Good Ride?, best route?Timbo27
Nov 18, 2003 10:55 AM
I would like to ride from Reno to Las Vegas next spring. If anyone has ridden it - is it a good ride? What is the best route?
re: Reno to Las Vegas - Good Ride?, best route?laffeaux
Nov 18, 2003 10:58 AM
Never ridden it, but I have driven most of US 395 and it's beautiful - at least from Bishop to Reno. I saw several bikes along the way.
Driven it dozens of times, ridden some.Cory
Nov 18, 2003 11:40 AM
Never ridden the southern part, though I've done Reno to Tonopah in segments over the years, and driven the whole route many times.
Normal driving trip doesn't go down 395 from Reno--as laffeaux said, that's very pretty from Carson City to Lone Pine, but it's quite a bit longer. And you'll have to turn east at some point, which means through Death Valley or to Barstow and I-15. I don't know that section well, but it's serious desert for a long way.
Typically from Reno you'd go 395 to Carson City, east on 50 to Silver Springs or Fallon, then south on 95 or 95ALT to Schurz, Hawthorne, Tonopah, and you can see it on the map from there. It's mostly non-freeway two- and four-lane, traffic not usually heavy on weekdays (but VERY fast, 80-90mph) without many alternate roads. That's a sparsely settled part of the country, and nearly all the traffic uses the same roads you'll be on (there may be farm roads, but they don't appear on any of my maps and I've never looked for them). Shoulders range from iffy to scary, in some places just inches wide. And Friday-Sunday, the traffic can thicken up. As puny as the highway is, it's still the main route between the state's two major cities.
It's very often windy, and temps can be over 100 anytime after May (they WILL be over 100 in summer, in the southern half). Services are spotty, water is scarce, motels are small and scattered. I don't recall any campgrounds, but I've never really looked for them. Plenty of open space, though, if you just want to head down a side road and pitch a tent. You can't count on water anywhere, though. The southern half, particularly, is real desert.
On the plus side, not that many people make the trip, you go through some interesting (if somewhat bleak) small towns and the scenery, if you like stark, is unbeatable. But it's not an energy-bar-in-the-seatbag romp.
Suicide Mission?shawndoggy
Nov 18, 2003 11:36 AM
I've never ridden this, only driven (probably 100 times). But putting together a) moderately traveled roads, b) access to water, food and medical attention, and c) somewhere to sleep, would be very difficult. Highway 95, being the most direct route, is approximately 440 miles (and that's taking I-80 east from Reno, which you wouldn't want to do). People drive FAST on that road, and traffic can be relatively heavy for a two lane road through the middle of nowhere. I've witnessed a few people riding north on 95 outside of Tonopah and it looked quite miserable and dangerous.

But since you asked:

From Reno, go down south through Carson CIty or over Geiger and through Virginia City to get to highway 50/highway 95 (Alt) intersection at silver springs. From there you could either head east towards Fallon or south towards Yerrington. Both roads are known for frequent head-on collisions, though the OATBRAN ride across Nevada does utilize 50 through Fallon and beyond, so I guess that's what I'd do. From there you could keep going east past Austin, then turn south on highway 376 towards Tonopah. I've driven that stretch of road and it's infinitely safer for a cyclist than doing 95 south from Hawthorne. Or you could keep heading east towards Ely, and head south from there.

At Tonopah (first option noted above) you'd either head south on 95 toward Goldfield/Beatty/LV (which, as I've stated, would SUCK and have lots of traffic and no shoulder, at least till the road turns to 4 lanes at the Test Site about 70 miles north of LV)or east towards Caliente. DOn't know whether that's a paved road or not. From Caliente you could head south on Highway 93 toward LV. Problem with that route is that 93 drops you onto Interstate 15 about 20 miles north of LV so you'd have to ride at least a few miles on I-15 till you can get off at Apex and cruise in toward Nellis AFB.

Do you note I'm not enthused with any of these routes? I've often thought of how to do it myself, but have come up with no solution that doesn't result in semis blowing by me at 80 mph from two feet away while I ride the six inch wide shoulder. That's not to mention staring down oncoming traffic too as people pass slower moving vehicles. In that vein, whatever route you choose, I'd be sure to run a flashing front light even at high noon. NOBODY will be expecting to see a cyclist out there!
Have a look here...alibi
Nov 18, 2003 3:06 PM
http://www.cyclingutah.com/august/August2003Issue.pdf

see page 18

These folks rode from Carson City across US 50 ("America's Loneliest Highway") into Utah; heading south from Ely would be the way to Vegas. They were glad they chose panniers over trailers, due to the narrow shoulder and rumble strips.
Of course, going through ely would make it a 600+ mile trip!shawndoggy
Nov 18, 2003 3:33 PM
and I think you'd do at least four passes over 7000 feet too. There is a bike shop in Austin (on highway 50) of all places, though.

Here's a good link to a supported ride from South Lake Tahoe to the Utah border, good description of the legs along Highway 50.

http://www.bikethewest.com/OATBRAN.html