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Delta, Utah & The Long Drive Into Nevada

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Your visit to Delta, Utah probably won’t be very exciting.  The biggest thrill might be filling up your gas tank for the long trip into the Great Basin along US 50.  Maybe you’ll get a soda, too.

Downtown Delta feels a lot like a typical farm town, with wide streets and only a few old buildings.

Civilization appears, then disappears, quickly as you drive through, and before you know it, you’re on a very lonely road.

On your way out of Delta, consider a short detour to view the Great Stone Face, also known as the Guardian of Deseret.  Mormon pioneers discovered this natural rock formation, and decided it bore a resemblance to their prophet Joseph Smith.  To get there, turn off US 50 onto Utah Route 257.  After 6.1 miles, turn right, and drive another 5.8 miles.  But before you go, check out this page to decide if the detour is worth it!
Who would have guessed that a big chunk of Los Angeles’ electricity is generated near Delta, Utah?  The Intermountain Power Agency has a huge coal-fired plant, just up US 6 from Delta.  Roughly 75% of the power it generates runs down high-voltage lines through southern Utah, across Nevada, and into California.  The IPA is also a big employer for people living in Delta.

If only your car came with a steering wheel lock, in addition to the cruise control, you could get up out of the driver’s seat and take a nap in the back for a half-hour or so.  US 6 and 50 remains almost perfectly straight as it heads southwest through a very wide basin.

The most prominent feature on the horizon is Notch Peak, on Sawtooth Mountain in the House Range.  The “notch” is part of a massive limestone cliff, with a 2,200 foot vertical rise.

It felt like I stared at that darned notch forever.  It seemed like it never got any closer, and I might as well have not been moving at all.  But I must have been making some progress, because eventually I reached a bend in the road…

… and Highway 6 and 50 curved into the House Range, just below Notch Peak.

A dirt side road led down to an interesting-looking basin, with a dry lake bed…

… while the main road continued, now with more curves as the highway navigated through the hills.

I think this is the backside of Notch Peak, but it was hard to tell.

In order to get out of the hills, the road needed to squeeze through a tight canyon.  Once I made it to the other side…

… the scenery disappeared.  Fog and snow kept me from seeing anything at all, except for the road in front of me, as I finished the drive into Nevada.  It would have been nice to get a good view of Wheeler Peak, the centerpiece of Great Basin National Park, but it was also completely hidden.  Instead, I would have to settle for a visit to the park’s other big attraction, Lehman Caves.

To visit Lehman Caves (or to follow the scenic drive to Wheeler Peak in the summer months), turn on NV Rte. 487, headed to Baker, NV.  There’s a visitor center in town, and another one at Lehman Caves, about five miles west of town, in the foothills of the mountains.
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