Re: PNW Summer 2014 trip, CG/boondock advice needed
Back to Highway 50...
I've stayed at Great Basin and it can fill, but there's a lotta room. I would also guess they may allow overflow. Rangers were rather annoying, however, when we crammed into one site. YMMV.
I must've lost why you wanna go to Sonora Pass, but it's kind a dip south. I live in the Bay Area, and I travel back and forth over 50 a lot. From Moab I usually do it in two days by doing 50, and stopping at Bob Scott, already mentioned. And from there a day to Oakland via 50 and 80. BUT note that if you were going to a campsite, hotel, etc in the Bay Area you might wanna give yourself more time. Especially since hauling into the Bay Area after 3 might mean fighting a lot of traffic, even in reverse commute direction. 50 to 80 is definitely fastest.
50 all the way over is a bit slower, but not tons. There are some nice spots to stay west of Fallon; I like Fort Churchill a lot. But there are other sites all around Lahontan Reservoir. If you dip just bit further south, go through Minden and Gardnerville and up 108, there's a nice BLM campground outside Markleeville called Indian Springs with good fishing and showers. You can either head over Luther Pass on 89 back towards 50, not too far away, or over 108, which is slower. There's also a nice campground at Grover Hot Springs with, yes, hot springs.
If you don't wanna boonie, there are some other campgrounds right off 50. Illipah Resevoir isn't far out of Ely. Or Hickison Petroglyph east of Austin. Some nice folks own the Cold Springs Station west of Austin near the Desatoya Mountains. They have a campground, private, and restaurant. And are full of local info. That's right on the Pony Express and stage routes; make sure to stop at the roadside monuments for a look see and comtemplate that is was like for Mark Twain or Sir Richard Francis Burton to take a stage over the same route in the 1860s that you're driving. Once past Cold Springs the camping on 50, even boondocking, is marginal, although there are some spots at Middlegate.
If you're not in much of a hurry, and the wild west history is of interest, Austin and Eureka are worth stops. And if really adventurous and like dinosaurs it's worth it to drive down and visit Berlin Ichthyosaur State Park. Like Bodie, but smaller and better. Great campground.
Once in CA all the areas near Sierra passes have camping not far off the highways. If it's a weekend stuff will be full, usually, but you can probably get in most midweek days. Anything on water is more crowded. And don't go too low; it can get hot or burn up.
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