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Nevada Highway 318 Northbound
Backroads Around Las Vegas
Highway 318
Highway 318
Highway 93 at Highway 318 (view NE)

Overview

Nevada Highway 318 isn't a "backroad," but it provides access to many of the places and backroads we love. Running 110 miles along the mostly dry White River, the highway passes through beautiful middle-Nevada Great Basin country, including broad open valleys and tight twisting narrows, all with mountain ranges along both sides.

Highway 318 connects U.S. Highway 93 to the south with U.S. Highway 6 to the north. Highway 318 generally is straight with a speed limit of 70 mph. Gas, food, and supplies are available only at Lund, but Alamo (south of Hwy 318) and Elko (north of Hwy 318) are full-service towns.

Highway 318 provides access to archaeological sites (White River Narrows; Mt. Irish), Basin and Range National Monument, OHV trails, caves, and backroad adventures. Excellent birding opportunities can be found at Key-Pittman and Kirch state wildlife management areas. Drivers should always keep an eye out for Pronghorn; it is unlikely they will be on the road, but it is always fun to see them galloping across sagebrush flats.

Highway 93
Start of Highway 318 (view NW)

Link to Road Map.

 

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about being in the desert, ...this road is pretty safe, but be sure that your vehicle is in good working condition, carry plenty of water, and pack a few snacks. Always drive carefully; even though the road is maintained, there are occasional hazards such as errant rocks and holes in the roadway.

While out, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. This road goes into remote areas, so be sure to bring what you need of the 10 Essentials. Cell phones don't work in most areas.

Highway 93

Getting to the Road

Highway 318 begins where it separates from Highway 93, just north of the towns of Ash Spring and Alamo.

From Las Vegas, drive north on Interstate-15 for 21 miles to Exit 64. Watch for signs to Pioche, Ely, Alamo, Caliente, and Great Basin National Park. Exit right, then turn left at the stop sign onto Highway 93. Drive north 85 miles, passing Alamo (last full-service town) and Ash Springs (last gas and snacks) to Highway 318 on the left. Consider picking up some Alien Jerky at the intersection for snacks during the drive north.

Highway 318
Approaching entrance to Frenchy Lake (view NW)

The Road

Beginning high on the east side of Pahranagat Valley, Highway 318 (Table 1, Site 0677) runs northwest and downhill towards the White River, which for the most part stopped flowing above ground at the end of the last ice age. It pops out, however, in several places, including to the right where it fills Frenchy Lake (part of Key-Pittman Wildlife Management Area) and ahead in the cottonwood trees on the left where it pops out as Crystal Spring and flows for a short distance downstream.

At about 0.3 miles out, just before crossing a cattle guard, Frenchy Lake access road turns off to the right. Watch for information signs and a broad gravel parking area. This side road provides access to a parking area with a vault toilet, and from there a trail leads to the east side of Frenchy Lake. During summer the lake often is dry, but during winter it provides wetland habitat for wintering ducks, geese, and swans.

Highway 318
Entrance to Frenchy Lake (view NW)

At about 0.7 miles out, under the cottonwood trees, Highway 375 (Site 0676) forks left (straight) as Highway 318 bends to the right. Before passing the intersection, birders might want to stop and check the trees and along the water for birds. This is also an informal roadside rest area with picnic tables under the trees, but no toilets. Be sure to pose for a photo in front of the Extraterrestrial Highway sign -- as thousands of people do every year.

Continuing, the highway bends north and Frenchy Lake (on the right) fades into the distance. Before long, the highway, which was signed at 60 mph, drops to 45 mph as it approaches the town of Hiko. Mind the signs, as the county sheriff and state highway patrol take a lot of money from people speeding through Hiko.

The first evidence of Hiko is a cattle feed lot about 2 miles out, and shortly the road passes houses, pastures, and farm fields. Keep an eye on the hillside to the left where stone foundations of historic buildings can be seen above the road.

Highway 93

At 2.9 miles out, information signs in a broad gravel parking lot on the right announce the Nesbitt Lake Unit (Site 0678) of Key-Pittman Wildlife Management Area. The gate into Nesbitt Lake is always closed, but not locked, and visitors are welcome to drive the short distance to a vault toilet and to the shady cottonwood trees beyond. Nesbitt Lake, fed by the White River, is permanent water and provides habitat for waterfowl and other waterbirds all year. Turkey Vultures like to roost in the tall trees.

Shortly beyond the Nesbitt Lake parking area, at 3.1 miles out, a dirt road to the left runs up a low hillside. The road is blocked by a wire-fence gate. This is Logan Canyon Road (Site 1130), which leads into Basin and Range National Monument and provides access to the Mount Irish Archaeological District, the Mount Irish Wilderness Area, the historic ghost town of Logan, and other backcountry adventures. Be sure to close the gate properly.

Highway 93
Approaching intersection of 375 (left; straight) and 318 (right)

Continuing north, about 6 miles out, Highway 318 passes out of Hiko. At 9.4 miles out, the highway passes Mail Summit Road (Site 0886) on the left. There are no signs, but watch for a stop sign and a paved apron leading from the highway to a cattle guard. Mail Summit Road runs northwest into Basin and Range National Monument, passing over the mountains at a gap between the Mount Irish Range to the south and Seaman Range to the north and dropping into the south end of Coal Valley. This road provides access to Leviathan Cave, and it can be used to access Michael Heizer's land art sculpture City, but it is not the easiest access.

At about 12.9 miles out, as Highway 318 leaves the Pahranagat Valley, it begins to form the boundary of Basin and Range National Monument. The land to the left is inside the National Monument.

Continuing north, Highway 318 passes Fossil Peak on the left (said to contain quite a collection of paleozoic fossils such as crinoids, brachiopods, and corals), then runs through a gap in the mountains carved by the White River (13.5 miles out) and enters White River Valley.

Highway 93
Highway 318 at Highway 375 (view NW)

Running northeast through the broad White River Valley, at 17.4 miles out, Highway 318 passes Seaman Wash Road (Site 1548), on the left. There are no signs, but watch for a stop sign and a solar-powered flashing red light that faces away from the highway. Seaman Wash Road runs northwest into the Seaman Range, passing twisting narrows and a high saddle before gliding gently into Coal Valley and the heart of Basin and Range National Monument. Seaman Wash Road provides the easiest access to Michael Heizer's land art sculpture City.

At 17.9 miles out, Highway 318 passes a road, on the right, that provides access to the Silver State OHV Trail, a system of dirt roads some 300 miles in total.

At 19.8 miles out, a wide spot in the road serves as a roadside rest area with trash cans but no restrooms. At the north end of the parking area, a large signs announce the White River Narrows Archaeological District and provide some information about the area, but there are no archaeological artifacts in the immediate area of the sign. Near here, the highway enters Basin and Range National Monument.

Highway 318
Highway 375: Extraterrestrial Highway (view NW)

At about 21.4 miles out, the boundary of Basin and Range National Monument, which has been running parallel to the highway on the left, crosses the highway to follow a dirt road right. For the next 7 miles, visitors are inside the national monument.

At 23.8 miles out, White River Narrows Road (Site 1105) turns off to the right. There are no signs, but watch for a cattle guard and gate in the highway fence. White River Narrows Road is the trace of the original highway, but running through the narrows, the highway frequently washed out and was rerouted to the current location. White River Narrows Road provides access to "Valley of Faces" (staying right on the main road, and the best of the White River Narrows rock art site (staying left up the berm).

Continuing north, Highway 318 runs up into the White River Narrows, proper (about 25.4 miles out). Here, the White River cut a sinuous path through towering cliffs (solidified volcanic ash called rhyolite). In several places along the narrows, native peoples left petroglyphs on the cliff faces.

Highway 318
Highway 375: Extraterrestrial Highway (view NW)

Emerging from the narrows, about 27.5 miles out, the road runs north, more-or-less following the edge of White River Valley. In this area, the mountains to the right are the North Pahroc Range, while those to the left are still the Seaman Range.

At 28.0 miles out, a dirt road comes in from the right. This side road marks the northern boundary of Basin and Range National Monument on the right side of the road. From here northward to 33.0 miles out, only the left side of the road is inside the national monument. Beyond mile 33, the boundary pulls back from the edge of the road and follows the base of the peaks to the west. The northern-most tip of the national monument is due west of mile 64 along the highway, but that point is pretty far west.

At about 45 miles out, the highway bends right and begins to climb out of the White River Valley. In this area, at the north end of the Seaman Range, the high peak to the left is Timber Mountain which is said to have Ponderosa Pines growing on the top.

Highway 318
Warning: next gas 100 miles away in Lund (view NW)

At 49.1 miles out, Highway 318 passes Timber Mountain Pass Road (Site 1546), on the left. There are no signs along the highway, but watch for a directional sign a few yards from the highway down Timber Mountain Pass Road. This road provides access to Timber Mountain, northern portions of Coal Valley, and for people arriving from the north, this is the best road to visit Michael Heizer's City.

Continuing north, Highway 318 descends desert slopes, passes tight against the base of Gap Mountain on the left (60.5 miles out), and returns to the edge of White River Valley.

At 61.8 miles out (Site 1604), the unmarked Coal Valley North Road left (watch for a stop sign) provides access to southern portions of Wayne E. Kirch Wildlife Management Area and northern Coal Valley.

Highway 318
Warning: 45 mph zone ahead (view N)

At 67.5 miles out (Site 1605), the unmarked Garden Valley North Road to the left (watch for a stop sign) provides access to Sunnyside, northern portions of Kirch Wildlife Management Area, and northern Garden Valley.

Continuing north, the road runs northeast, then bends a bit left to run more due north, and passes a roadside rest area, with toilets, at about 70.2 miles out.

Continuing straight, at about 72.9 miles out (Site 0930), the highway passes an obscure, unmarked dirt road to the right. Watch for a wire-fence gate in the highway fence. This side road provides access to Whipple Cave in the Far South Egans Range to the east. The next road, Shingle Pass Road at 75.1 miles out, also provides access to Whipple Cave, but be sure to bring aerial photo maps.

 

Highway 318
45 mph through Hiko -- NHP stays busy here (view N)

Continuing, Highway 318 runs north, passes the Nye-White Pine County line (88.3 miles out), and eventually arrives in Lund, a full-service town.

Lund has the small Whipple Family Country Store (Site 0935; 99.1 miles out), which provides fuel, snacks, and a grill, and Lane's Coffee Shop and Travel Store (103.4 miles out) that also provides food and fuel, and perhaps the only lodging in town. Folks in the Whipple Family Country Store have always been nice to me.

Beyond Lund, Highway 318 continues northwest to end at the intersection with U.S. Highway 6 (Site 1606; 110.8 miles out). From there, travelers can continue northeast to Ely (about 24 miles) or turn southwest towards Tonopah (about 144 miles).

Highway 318
Hiko town: feedlot (view E)
Highway 93
Hiko town: residences (view N)
Highway 318
Hiko town: residences (view NE)
Highway 318
Hiko town: alfalfa field (view NE)
Highway 318
Hiko town: approaching Key-Pittman WMA, Nesbitt Lake (view N)
Highway 318
Hiko town: Entrance to Key-Pittman WMA, Nesbitt Lake (view N)
Highway 318
Nesbitt Lake entrance (view E from Hwy 318)
Highway 318
Nesbitt Lake information signs (view E from Hwy 318)
Highway 93
Hiko town: approaching Logan Canyon Road turnoff (view N)
Highway 93
Approaching Logan Canyon Road turnoff (view N)
Highway 318
Logan Canyon Road turnoff (view NW from Hwy 318)
Highway 93
Hiko town: approaching Key-Pittman WMA HQ (view N)
Highway 318
Key-Pittman WMA HQ (view N)
Highway 318
Hiko town: cattle pasture (view N)
Highway 318
Hiko town: cattle pasture (view N)
Highway 318
Hiko town: cattle pasture (view N)
Highway 93
Hiko town: roadside residences (view N)
Highway 318
Hiko town sign (view N)
Highway 318
Historic marker sign at Hiko town sign (view W)
Highway 318
Text of Historic marker sign (view W)
Highway 318
Bumping the speed limit back to 70 mph (view N)
Highway 318
Highway 318 at Old Mail Summit Road (closed; view N)
Highway 318
Old Mail Summit Road (closed; view NW from Highway 318)
Highway 318
Old Mail Summit Road is closed (view NW)
Highway 93
Approaching Mail Summit Road (note sign; view N)
Highway 93
Approaching Mail Summit Road (watch for stop sign; view N)
Highway 93
Hwy 318 at Mail Summit Road (view N; note crest of hill ahead)
Highway 93
Mail Summit Road (view NW from Hwy 318)
Highway 93
Hwy 318 approaching Fossil Peak in Basin & Range NM (view N)
Highway 93
Hwy 318 approaching Fossil Peak (view N)
Highway 318
Hwy 318 approaching Fossil Peak during snow storm (view N)
Highway 318
Fossil Peak (view W)
Highway 318
Grand open scenery: iconic Nevada landscape (view N)
Highway 318
Approaching Seaman Wash Road (view NE)
Highway 318
Highway 318 at Seaman Wash Road (view NE)
Highway 318
Highway 318 at Seaman Wash Road (view NW)
Highway 93
Approaching Silver State OHV Trail access road (view NE)
Highway 318
Sign: Silver State OHV Trail (view NE)
Highway 93
Hwy 318 at Silver State OHV Trail access road (view NE)
Highway 93
Hwy 318 (view NE)
Highway 93
Approaching White River Narrows Archaeological District (view NE)
Highway 93
Hwy 318 at White River Narrows Archaeological District sign
Highway 93
White River Narrows Archaeological District sign
Highway 93
Hwy 318 (view NE from White River Narrows sign)
Highway 93
Approaching White River Narrows Road (view NE)
Highway 93
Approaching White River Narrows Road (view NE)
Highway 93
Hwy 318 at White River Narrows Road (view NE)
Highway 318
White River Narrows Road (view SE from Hwy 318)
Highway 93
Hwy 318 entering White River Narrows (view NE)
Highway 93
White River Narrows (view NE)
Highway 93
White River Narrows (view NE)
Highway 93
Approaching Timber Mountain Pass Road (view N)
Highway 93
Approaching Timber Mountain Pass Road (view N)
Highway 93
Hwy 318 at Timber Mountain Pass Road (view N)
Highway 318
Timber Mountain Pass Road (view SW from Hwy 318)
Highway 93
Hwy 318 at Lincoln-Nye County line (view N)
Highway 93
Lincoln-Nye County line (view NE)
Highway 318
Approaching Gap Mountain, on the left (view NW)
Highway 318
Approaching Kirch north access road (view N)
Highway 318
Kirch north access road (view W from Hwy 318)
Highway 93
Approaching turnoff to Sunnyside and Kirch WMA (view NE)
Highway 93
Approaching turnoff to Sunnyside and Kirch WMA (view NE)
Highway 318
Approaching turnoff to Sunnyside and Kirch WMA (view NE)
Highway 93
Hwy 318 at turnoff to Sunnyside and Kirch WMA (view NE)
Highway 93
Road to Sunnyside and Kirch WMA (view W from Hwy 318)
Highway 318
Approaching a roadside rest area with toilets (view N)
Highway 93
Approaching Whipple Cave access Road (view N)
Highway 93
Hwy 318 at Whipple Cave access Road (view N)
Highway 318
Whipple Cave access Road (view NW from Hwy 318)
Highway 318
Approaching Shingle Pass Road (view N)
Highway 93
Approaching Nye-White Pine County line
Highway 93
Hwy 318 at Nye-White Pine County line
Highway 318
Approaching Lund (view N)
Highway 318
Lund (Whipple Family Country Store, first gas since Ash Springs)
Highway 318
Lane's Coffee Shop, Travel Store, and motel (view N)
Highway 318
Hwy 318 at Hwy 6 (view NW)

Table 1. Highway Coordinates based on GPS Data (NAD27). Download highway GPS waypoints (gpx) file.

Wpt. Location UTM Easting UTM Northing Elevation (ft) Point-to-Point Distance (mi) Cumulative Distance (mi) Verified
0677 Hwy 93 at Hwy 318 37.52891 115.21911 3,831 00.0 000.00 Yes
0676 Hwy 318 at Hwy 375 37.53219 115.23044 3,800 00.7 000.70 Yes
0678 Hwy 318 at Nesbitt Lake gate 37.56301 115.22912 3,846 02.2 002.90 Yes
1130 Hwy 318 at Logan Cyn Rd 37.56657 115.23051 3,844 00.3 003.20 Yes
0886 Hwy 318 at Mail Summit Rd 37.65247 115.20742 4,125 06.2 009.40 Yes
1548 Hwy 318 at Seaman Wash Rd 37.74011 115.11826 4,236 08.0 017.40 Yes
1105 Hwy 318 at Wt River Narrows Rd 37.81998 115.05729 4,471 06.4 023.80 Yes
1546 Hwy 318 at Timber Pass Rd 38.15467 114.99927 5,385 25.4 049.20 Yes
1604 Hwy 318 at Coal Valley North Rd 38.33426 115.04333 5,442 12.6 061.80 Yes
1605 Hwy 318 at Garden Valley N Rd 38.41493 115.02651 5,311 05.7 067.50 Yes
0930 Hwy 318 at Whipple Cave Rd 38.48906 115.01825 5,325 05.4 072.90 Yes
0935 Hwy 318 at Lund 38.85667 115.00694 5,560 26.1 099.00 Yes
1606 Hwy 318 at Hwy 6 38.99750 115.12325 5,955 11.8 110.80 Yes

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 170706

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