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  1. Default Advice on drive from Ely, NV to the Bay Area


    After spending the last leg of my road trip in mid-July visiting Great Basin National Park, I'm mulling my options of getting back home to the Bay Area. Left to myself, I would choose US 50 to I-80 in an instant. But I have a few concerns since I will be driving with the wife and two kids (13 and 9).

    1. Are there call boxes along the way, and if so, how far apart are they?
    2. Can I count on cell phone coverage (both of us have Sprint). The Sprint map shows off-network roaming most of the way, but not sure if anyone had experience with it.
    3. How long will it realistically take for help to arrive (towing, paramedics)?
    4. Is it that lonely that I may not see another car for 30 minutes? (I'll be starting around 8 AM on a Friday from Ely).
    5. Are there multiple gas stations in each of the small towns? (Just in case one of them is temporarily closed for whatever reason)?
    6. How many mountain passes will I encounter, and how windy does it get (wife and daughter sometimes get queasy).

    Another option is to take US 93 to I-80. 93 looks as lonely as 50, so the same concerns apply, but it is half the distance to I-80. And this will definitely mean an overnight stay along the way, but I'll be OK with that if it better addresses my concerns.

    Your advice is much appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default For What It's Worth

    I never let such considerations get in the way of a good RoadTrip. Simply take a few precautions and then stop worrying about things you have no control over. Do not expect call boxes. (If there aren't any, are you not going to go?) Expect spotty, at best, cell phone coverage. I just dropped Sprint as my carrier because they provide less than ideal coverage - and none in Canada - but you should still see some bars along major highways such as I-80 and US-50. But remember people made these drives in the days before mobile phones and survived. One of the precautions mentioned above is to have lots of water in your vehicle (gallons, not a single disposable bottle) and be prepared to wait quite a while in the worst case of your car totally breaking down. But I'd be surprised if you had to actually wait more than a few hours, if that. I would be very surprised if you waited more than two or three minutes for a car to pass by on US-50 or two or three seconds on I-80. These are major cross-country highways not forsaken cow paths. The number of gas stations in any given town is almost immaterial. Simply watch your gas gauge and when it gets to halfway (which actually means slightly less than half a tank in most cars) stop at the next available station. Even if the next one is closed, you should still have about 150 miles of range left on your available fuel. The only serious mountains you have to cross are the Sierra Nevada in east central California. The mountains in Nevada are fault block mountains and you don't cross any of them, but rather will follow the broad flat valleys between them. I-80 and US-50 over the Sierra Nevada are major highways with good alignments and grades, and lots of traffic. In short, most of your worries are a bit overblown. Thousands of people drive these highways every day without incident, and that is what you should expect.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Does your car not have a 250 mile range on one tank of gas? That's about how far it is from Ely to Fallon. In an emergency, there is gas in Eureka (2, a Chevron and a EZ-Stop) and Austin (2, a Chevron and a Stop n Go) but it is quite expensive. It took me almost exactly 4 hours to get from Ely to Fallon, with no stops.

    There are no call boxes on US-50 that I remember, and cell coverage is actually fairly decent (with AT&T, don't know about Sprint) but definitely not continuous all the way. There are several passes and summits, nothing really extreme, but coming off the summit down into Austin is fairly steep and winding.

    You could take US-6, but there are no services whatsoever between Ely and Tonopah, which is 170 miles. The only way to make it from Ely to SF in one day is US-50 to Fallon and Alt-50 to I-80.

  4. Default

    Thanks to both of you, that was very reassuring.

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