Eastern Nevada and Great Basin National Park
Nevada, the real Nevada outside of Vegas, is empty but not as desolate as I expected. I had pictured Eastern Nevada as flat but to my surprise I found mountains and valleys. I like the emptiness. It gives the feeling of stepping back in time and the illusion is furthered by the old buildings that make up the towns.
In the middle of state and close to the Utah border is Great Basin National Park. Great Basin is one of the least visited national parks in the lower 48. The lack of visitors owes to being quite far from any population centers. Both Salt Lake City and Las Vegas are 5 hours and 250 miles away. The main attraction is the Lehman Caves. I came for the scenery but the caves are quite impressive. Many of the sights in the park require some longer hikes at the higher elevations. I'd hoped to visit the bristle cone pine grove but the ranger at the visitor's center told me that trail was still in impassible due to snow.
In a refreshing change from most national parks, there's little commercialization. Baker, the tiny town at the entrance, only has a couple hotels and restaurants. The closest bigger town is Ely, NV. It's about 70 miles from Ely to Baker along Highway 50 which is dubbed the loneliest road in America. Heading out of Ely towards California, I took Highway 6 which is even lonelier. Ely to Tonopah is a 170 miles of solitude. There are few cars and no towns. I stood in the middle of the highway to make one of the images below without any difficulty since there is so little traffic.