Around 1986 to 1988, Life Magazine is said to have ran a very negative article about Nevada State Highway 50 titled “The Loneliest Road.” An AAA spokesperson had described Nevada State Highway 50 route through Nevada in these words: “It’s totally empty. There are no points of interest. We don’t recommend it. We warn all motorists not to drive there unless they’re confident of their survival skills.”
Nevada tourism officials were quick to agree that while Highway 50 did not have traditional tourism related stopping places like amusement parks, “The Loneliest Road” has many little-known and unique items of interest. In addition, most of these places along the Loneliest Road were free for the tourist to see.
To combat the article’s negativity, the White Pine County Chamber of Commerce in Ely suggested calling highway 50 “The Loneliest Road in America.” Later the Nevada Commission on Tourism developed the now popular “The Loneliest Road in America, Official Highway 50 Survival Guide.”
Travelers can pick up the free Loneliest Road survival kits at Chambers of Commerce, museums, restaurants, motels, and gas stations along Highway 50. The kit contains a state road map, the Loneliest Road Survival Guidebook showing some things to see and a line map of the road. Travelers stop in the towns of Fernley, Fallon, Austin, Eureka, and Ely to get the Loneliest Road map stamped. When all five of the boxes are stamped in each town, the completed form is mailed (postage free) to the Nevada Commission on Tourism. You then receive a Loneliest Road survival certificate signed by the Governor, a Loneliest Road lapel pin, and a Loneliest Road bumper sticker announcing that you survived this “uninteresting and empty” road.