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Nevada's Gold Trail Road Trip

Historic Route

Nevada, USA

Get your wagon ready for a road trip on Neveda's Gold Trail. Experience a legendary adventure into the heart of Nevada's wild west, complete with Virginia City hidden gems, hair-raising bends and a chance to strike it rich!

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Gold Mining, Historic Towns, Museums

82 mi / 132 km

Not Required

Lake Tahoe (TVL)

Sealed

Spring, Autumn

Wild West Gunslingers and Hopeful Gold Prospectors Unite

Follow in the footsteps of the trailblazing prospectors who first hit gold in The Sagebrush State on this 82-mile loop. It's a spur-spinning, saloon-door-slapping Wild West adventure that zigzags between the Pine Nut Mountains and the Sierra Nevada, dropping into old-school cowboy towns and pioneer settlements alike. Yeeha!

The 10,000-foot outline of Monument Peak on the Nevada-California state line marks the start point. You can take some time to ski there on the famous pistes of the Heavenly Resort if there's snow. Then, push on up the hair-pinning bends that take you through the easternmost flanks of the Sierra Nevada.

You can almost pinpoint the exact spot that the mountains end and the vast Great Basin begins. The hills flatten, the pine woods drop away, and rolling fields of scrub drift on to the horizon.

This is the vast heart of America that challenged the pioneers of the 1800s wagon trains. Their enthralling and often sobering stories are told at the Mormon Station State Historic Park, the site of the first ever permanent settlement in Nevada.

When it was first raised in 1851, it was little more than a backcountry trading outpost. You can see a replica of that original building today, and drop into the Genoa Bar, which has attracted towering figures in its 150-year history, including Mark Twain and Teddy Roosevelt.

A stop in Carson City is a must. It's packed with illuminating museums. There's the Foreman-Roberts House Museum, a timber-framed Gothic Revival home that's been preserved to look just like what it did back in the era of the Gold Rush. Then there's the Nevada State Museum, which chronicles the history of the territory from its very beginnings.

The road wiggles north into the sun-baked Virginia Range next. Miners bound for the rich gold veins of California would have passed through these inhospitable peaks in the 1840s and 50s. Aptly named Silver City was just a clutch of guesthouses and bordellos back then, but it was a rare and welcome pitstop in the sea of dusty peaks and canyons that is the American West.

Then its only just down the road to Virginia City, a town made famous by the booming wealth of the Chollar Mine. Be sure to stop by the Ponderosa Saloon in the center. On the surface it's a drinking hole, but it's also proper gun-slinger stuff, with a bank vault dating from 1864 and mine shafts cut beneath the bar itself!

In 1875, Virginia City was the site of a surprising bank robbery that captivated the town. Two masked men entered the Bank of California, making off with approximately $35,000 worth of gold and silver. What made this robbery unique was their daring escape plan: commandeering a fire engine and fleeing through the streets of Virginia City.

However, their getaway came to an abrupt halt when the fire engine became stuck in a gully, forcing the robbers to abandon it and disappear on foot. The Bank Robbery of 1875 remains a captivating tale from the town's rich history. The audacity of the robbers and their unexpected use of a fire engine as a getaway vehicle left a lasting impression on the residents. It also sparked a renewed focus on law enforcement and security measures.

As your road trip through Nevada concludes, the memories of the rugged landscapes, the stories of Silver City, and the living history of Virginia City will remain etched in your mind. From the saloons and memorable architecture to the museums and historic mines, these places bring together the colorful characters and stories of the Old West in unexpected ways.

South Lake Tahoe and Carson City are full of great options to stay, however for something special stay in heart of Virgina City for a night that will take you back in time. Parking fees may apply for some areas - see signage on site. Around the Lake Tahoe area permits are required year-round for both day and overnight use in most of the wilderness areas - National passes accepted. If you're planning to visit many parks, a National Parks Annual Pass is recommended for access to more than 2,000 parks nation wide. Got a tip for this route? Send us yours! All roads are sealed, however road closures are possible during the cooler months. View current warnings and alerts for the Lake Tahoe area. For other parks check with local authorities and on-site signage.

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