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You can’t beat Nevada for wide-open adventure.
Photo: William Lane (Valley of Fire State Park)
Motorcycle riders can find the freedom of the open road in Nevada. Three of the Silver State’s top rides include the following popular routes in Southern Nevada. While most visitors think of Las Vegas as the place to hit the tables, it’s also a place to hit the road—and experience Vegas’s real wild side.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, 44 miles
Don’t let the short distance of this trip fool you. Red Rock Canyon’s scenery and proximity to Las Vegas make this little ride a big favorite.
Follow Charleston Boulevard until it turns into State Route 159 near the outskirts of town, about 10 miles from the Strip. Follow 159 around the Red Rock Scenic Loop and south to Blue Diamond, 23 miles. A left on S.R. 160 will take you back to Las Vegas, 11 miles.
Valley of Fire State Park, 128 miles
Practically every car manufacturer in the country has used the limestone crags of the Valley of Fire as the backdrop for their commercials, but no matter how big your high-def TV is, cinematography just can’t do the park justice. You’ll have to experience it for yourself.
Take Interstate 15 North from Las Vegas to S.R. 169 at Exit 93, 51 miles. Follow 169 through Logandale and into the park via the White Domes Scenic Byway and back to I-15, 45 miles. I-15 South will take you the 32 miles back to Las Vegas.
Mount Charleston, 87 miles
At 11,915 feet, Mount Charleston is the highest peak in Southern Nevada. That means that when summertime temperatures soar in Vegas, the alpine country around the mountain will be a pleasant 20 to 25 degrees cooler.
From Las Vegas on U.S. 95, head north to Lee Canyon Road (S.R. 156), 30 miles. Follow Lee Canyon west up the mountain and turn left on Deer Creek Road (S.R. 158), 15 miles. After nine miles turn left on Kyle Canyon Road (S.R. 157) and follow it back to U.S. 95, 17 miles. From U.S. 95 it’s 16 miles south back to Las Vegas.
Lincoln County, 158 miles
If the rides in this area were rated, they would get five stars, one for each of these five Lincoln County state parks: Kershaw-Ryan, Beaver Dam, Cathedral Gorge, Spring Valley, and Echo Canyon. The parks offer some of the best kept secrets in Nevada that reward bikers with some of the most varied, scenic riding the state has to offer. Make Caliente, 149 miles north of Las Vegas, your base to enjoy rural Nevada at its best, but remember to ride carefully, as some of the roads in Lincoln County can be a little rougher than some riders are used to.
From Caliente, Kershaw-Ryan State Park is a short, four-mile round trip on S.R. 317. Six miles north of Caliente on U.S. 93, turn right on the graded gravel road to Beaver Dam State Park near the Utah border, 28 miles, and return via the same route. The next stop is at Cathedral Gorge State Park, 16 miles north of Caliente on U.S. 93. From Cathedral Gorge State Park follow U.S. 93 north to Pioche, nine miles. S.R. 322 (Eagle Valley Road) takes riders east to Spring Valley State Park, 16 miles. On the way back down S.R. 322 to Pioche, turn left on S.R. 323 to reach Echo Canyon State Park, 12 miles. The Park is at the end of S.R. 323, eight miles. Return to Pioche via the same route. From Pioche, the return to Caliente is 25 miles on U.S. 93.
U.S. 50, Carroll Summit Variation, 388 miles
The Loneliest Road In America, U.S. 50 through Nevada, cuts across some of the best scenery to be found in the western states and the warmth and hospitality you’ll find in towns like Fallon, Austin, and Ely will more than make up for all of those lonely miles. A detour on S.R. 722 over Carroll Summit will prove well worth the few extra minutes it takes. End your trans-Nevada ride with a visit to Lehman Caves and Nevada’s only glacier at Great Basin National Park.
From Carson City follow U.S. 50 east to Middlegate, 109 miles. From Middlegate follow U.S. 50 for three miles to S.R. 722. Turn right on S.R. 722 and follow for 59 miles back to U.S. 50. Follow U.S. 50 east one mile to Austin. From Austin, continue east on U.S. 50 to Eureka, 70 miles. Ely is another 78 miles east on U.S 50. Follow U.S. 50 east from Ely to S.R. 487, 57 miles. S.R. 487 will take you to Baker, five miles, and S.R. 488 leads the remaining six miles to Great Basin National Park.
Lake Tahoe and Genoa Loop, 149 miles (Spooner Summit), 134 miles (Kingsbury Grade)
A ride around Lake Tahoe will show you why it is considered the gem of the Sierra and among the most picturesque lakes in the world. Take a mid-trip break at awe-inspiring Emerald Bay to re-energize before a stop in Nevada’s oldest town, Genoa—the perfect conclusion to one of the most memorable rides you’ll ever take.
From U.S. 395 in south Reno, take Mount Rose Highway (S.R. 431) west to Incline Village, 28 miles. Turn right on S.R. 28 into California and to Tahoe City, 14 miles. CA 89 follows the west shore of the lake past Emerald Bay and to South Lake Tahoe, 27 miles. Turn left onto U.S. 50 and back to Nevada at Stateline, 5 miles.
From Stateline, riders have two options depending on their skill level. Less experienced riders should opt to follow U.S. 50 over Spooner Summit, east to U.S. 395 in the Carson Valley, 22 miles. Turn right on U.S. 395 and follow it one mile to Jacks Valley Road. Another right on Jacks Valley Road leads nine miles to Genoa.
More experienced riders will enjoy the wonderful scenery and the challenging, steep, winding ride down Kingsbury Grade. From Stateline, turn right onto S.R. 207 and follow for 11 miles to S.R. 206. Turn left on 206 and follow north to Genoa, six miles.
For both variations, follow Jacks Valley Road north to S.R. 395, nine miles, and back to Reno, 34 miles.
Your riding boots and chaps will make you feel right at home in Nevada’s cowboy country. The mountain highways around Elko reward riders with some of the most pristine and often overlooked beauty the Silver State has to offer. From glacier-carved Lamoille Canyon, to the views of the Ruby Mountains from Jiggs and Secret Pass, the Elko area offers virtually endless miles of pavement for you to open up the throttle and let a few ponies gallop.
Choose from half-day trips to Jiggs, Lamoille Canyon, and Secret Pass, or stay in Elko for a weekend and do all three.
Jiggs, 68 miles
From Elko take S.R. 227 south to S.R. 228, seven miles. Turn right on S.R. 228 and continue for 27 miles to Jiggs. Follow the same route back to Elko, 34 miles.
Lamoille Canyon, 64 miles
Lamoille Canyon is the gateway to the lofty peaks of the Ruby Mountains, renowned as one of the most beautiful ranges in all of Nevada.
From Elko Lamoille Canyon is 32 miles south on S.R. 227. Follow the same route back to Elko.
Secret Pass, 78 miles
From Elko follow I-80 18 miles east to Halleck at Exit 321. Secret Pass is 21 miles south on S.R. 229. Follow the same route back to Elko, 39 miles.