Leg 8: Salt Lake City to Reno, NV
Great Salt Lake, West Wendover
About the Route
Salt Lake is a very attractive city with plenty of shopping and dining opportunities both downtown and throughout the city. The most well-known attraction of the city is the massive Salt Lake Temple, which is walkable from any point in the downtown area. There is a major Greek influence in the city, so a taste for good Mediterranean cuisine can definitely be satisfied.
As you’re leaving Salt Lake City, be sure to program your playlist for the drive through northern Nevada. It is dry, quiet and flat out there in the desert and you will need some music or good conversation to keep you going. Snack foods or a picnic for in-car dining are also wise to have on hand, along with some caffeinated beverages or water. There will be many places in which your cell phone will not work for some carriers. Of course, don’t forget to fill the gas tank. When you see roadside stations along the way, stop to fill as needed and do not let the tank go too low. Services can prove a little sparse.
For this part of the road trip, we suggest starting very early from Salt Lake City with Reno as the optimum destination for this leg, but stop in Lovelock or some other desert hamlet with a motel if you start getting too tired to continue. If the winds are high at the time of your drive, you will likely be confined to the car and unable to get out and stretch your legs due to the gusts and blowing sand. Just be prepared for a long drive and appreciate the desert for its unique beauty and quiet spaciousness.
You will pass the Great Salt Lake en route to West Wendover, the strange little casino-laden town just over the Utah-Nevada border. It is a great place to get gas and have lunch, even testing a few of the slot machines if you are the gambling type. This is the last major stopping place before Reno. The Bonneville Salt Flats of West Wendover have been the scene of many movies and land speed exercises. The world record for land speed – 630 mph – was reached in the other-worldly setting of the Salt Flats.
Three Mile Mountain is worth a visit if you would like to see the curvature of the Earth from its peak, as well as the Salt Flats at its foot. Will Smith’s Independence Day was partially filmed at Historic Wendover Airfield Museum, where training for dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan was conducted.
Side Trips & Must Do
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake Temple, West Wendover casinos, Bonneville Salt Flats, Three Mile Mountain, Historic Wendover Airfield Museum, Reno attractions
Foods You Must Try
Enjoy Native American and pioneer fare as you pass through Nevada’s harsh environment. Jerky, dried fruits and vegetables, biscuits, corn cakes and other traditional foods are great for snacking while you drive. If stopping at a diner or restaurant, try chuckwagon fare, Mexican food or a good old casino buffet.