When riders near retirement, some pledge that they will ride their motorcycle from coast to coast. US 50, created in 1926 as part of the original US Highway system, is one of the transcontinental routes often chosen for a bicoastal tour. Before the advent of Interstate highways, US 50 was a major East/West transportation route. Although some sections of this former two-lane roadway have been replaced with Interstates and other four-lane thoroughfares, US 50 retains most of its original charm and motoring adventure.
An Epic Ride Along Highway 50
Cutting across the midsection of America’s Lower 48, US 50 immerses travelers in a fascinating cross-section of the country’s diverse cultures and landscapes, passing through 12 states. Major cities include Sacramento, CA, Kansas City, MO, St. Louis, MO, Cincinnati, OH, and Washington, DC. The highway also traverses many lightly populated rural areas, particularly in the West.
Scenery: The route goes from the Atlantic Ocean over the Appalachian Mountains, across expansive prairie and desert environments in the country’s mid-section, and then climbs the Rocky and Sierra Mountains in the West before descending into Sacramento, CA, not far from the Pacific shore. Major tourist destinations along the way include the nation’s capital, the St. Louis Gateway Arch, historic Dodge City, KS, Royal Gorge, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, the Colorado National Monument, Nevada’s Great Basin National Park, and Lake Tahoe.
Curves: As might be expected, there are numerous curvy sections in the mountainous areas and straight-as-an-arrow tarmac across the flatter prairie and desert terrain.
Traffic: It runs the gamut from heavy in urban areas to virtually non-existent in Nevada, where US 50 is designated “The Loneliest Road in America.”
Distance: A little more than 3,000 miles.
Time Required: Two to three weeks, depending on number and duration of stops.
Technical Difficulty: The primary technical sections are in West Virginia’s Appalachian Mountains and the Colorado Rockies.
Trip Planning Information: One of the best sources for planning this cross-country trip is none other than RoadRUNNER magazine. Our trip along US 50, progressing from the Pacific to Atlantic Oceans, was published in the following series of articles:
- Part 1: California, Nevada, and Utah
- Part 2: Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri
- Part 3: Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio
- Part 4: West Virginia, Virginia, Washington, DC, and Maryland
It’s a great country we live in, so get out and see it!