Finding Adventure and Quilting Inspiration in the Nevada Desert
Trekking through the open desert may seem boring to some. But we quilters know just how to turn the seemingly mundane into a grand inspirational adventure!
As the world begins to slowly reopen, I made my annual trek to Nevada to visit my parents for mom’s birthday and Father’s Day. Normally, we would be attending the Reno Quilt Show and the Reno Rodeo. Mom’s favorite is the Bull Riding event. I personally love the Mutton busting. Those kids are just too cute!
However, this year COVID had other plans. Both the rodeo and the quilt show were cancelled. So, mom and I decided to hit the road for a fun adventure to Las Vegas! After all, it’s only a 7-hour drive through the desert.
Now, I know you might be thinking ‘how boring’ a drive through the desert would be. But let me tell you my friend, the adventure is all in knowing where to look.
On the Road Again
Heading South out of Reno on US 395 you’ll pass through the state Capital, Carson City. There are a few great quilt shops here in Carson so a detour might just be in order. However, this trip we were on a strict Las Vegas bound adventure.
One of the newest sights along the Northern Nevada highways are the artistic silhouette sculptures that now adorn the intersections and overpasses. Here are a few pictures I took out past Dayton. Aren’t these great?
I personally have always loved the open deserts of Nevada. The colors and the beauty of the mountains. On this particular trip I realized just how differently I see the world now that I’ve expanded my designer side. For instance, the sparse trees lining the mountain sides all looked like embroidery patterns. And the intricate formations of the rocks in Walker lake look like crazy blocks of a quilt. And that’s why I always carry a sketch pad with me.
Hawthorne is also one of my favorite places in Nevada. The beauty of the lake and the rocky terrain of the mountain sides. There are several camp grounds along the lake but the big reason the town is here is because it is the largest military depot in the United States.
If you look closely as you pass, you’ll see the many thousands of depot entrances ‘hidden’ among the landscape. Even the stretch of highway near town is dedicated to the war veterans throughout American history. Beginning with the Revolution and ending with the global war on terror. It’s a stark reminder of how precious life is and the price paid for our freedom.
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Oasis in the Desert
As you get further south, about an hour and a half Northwest of Las Vegas is the little town of Beatty. Originally an old mining town it’s now the last main stop before hitting Vegas. But let me tell you. This place has definite character!
As this is southern Nevada and Beatty is situated near one of the many Area testing grounds for the military, Aliens becomes a common theme. Hence, the Atomic Inn. Even if you’re just stopping by to wave hello to our intergalactic friends or planning an overnight stay, this is a must stop in Beatty!
Rather than turning Left to Vegas, I’d suggest continuing onto Hwy 374 about 4 miles outside of town to the Goldwell Outdoor Museum. This little gem in the desert is quite unique. It’s filled with several art pieces left open to the wilds of nature.
The museum itself was established in 2000 but the first sculpture, the Last Supper, was created by Belgian artist Albert Szukalski in 1984. Through the years several other pieces by various artists have been added to the site including this fantastic tiled couch which was restored and moved to Goldwell in 2007.
Just past the Goldwell Outdoor Museum is the old gold rush mining town of Rhyilote and the Bullfrog mines (yes, that’s really the name). Today it’s just another ghost town that is also occasionally used as a movie set. Can you just imagine what that old casino was like in its heyday?
Of course, another great alternate route (and the one we took on our Quilters road trip in Nevada back Northbound) is to travel along the Extraterrestrial Highway, also known as Highway 375. This adventure takes you on the East side of the Area testing grounds and is the entrance to the infamous Area 51.
Do you remember that call to action awhile back when people threatened to storm Area 51 to force the military to show us the ‘real aliens’? Yeah, this is where they met.
Along the Extra Terrestrial Highway is a giant metal building called the Alien Research Center. Don’t worry. They don’t test aliens at that particular facility. Instead, It’s mostly just a gift shop with a really cool gigantic alien out front. Unfortunately, they were closed this trip so I don’t get to show you all the cool things they have inside. That just means I get to take another trip back!
The Extraterrestrial highway stretches about 92 miles along highway 375. It eventually reconnects with Highway 95 just south of Tonopah so the detour doesn’t add too much extra time to the drive. However, it’s such a fun drive! As long as you have AC, of course. This trip the temps reached about 108.
Seriously though, keep your eyes peeled because you never know what you’re going to find. It could be a great old abandoned windmill well and bucket.
A rocket ship marking the entrance to a testing range.
Or even the occasional free-range cow. Be careful! Those things will walk right out in front of your car!
Be sure to save time for one final stop in the little town of Yerington, Nevada at Sylvia’s Quilters Quarters. She’s a full-service quilt shop with fabric, notions, patterns and more!
No matter if you’re Quilter’s Road Trip has you driving through the deserts of Nevada, the forests of Washington State or the bayous of Louisiana, there’s adventure and inspiration around every corner as long as you know where to look!
- More Road Trip Travel Tips
- Complete list of Quilt Shops in Nevada
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