The Monitor Valley Scenic Drive
Do you hate people? Do you want to get away from it all? Do you want to disappear, never to be seen again? Do you want to be totally alone and be surrounded by beautiful mountains, an endless valley and in total silence except for what sounds the wind and the snakes make? If so, then I have a destination for you - the Monitor Valley of Central Nevada.
To me at least, the Monitor Valley defines what “empty Nevada” is all about. How empty is empty? During the entire drive between Belmont and US Highway 50, a distance of 76 miles, you will see TWO ranches, and those are far off in the distance. That is it folks in terms of human habitation.
And indeed, the road itself pretty much defines what a lonely Nevada road is like to. I spent six hours meandering my way down this road and numerous side-roads. During that entire time, I didn’t see a single vehicle. And really, that should not be a surprise since nobody really lives here. And the town of Belmont is not exactly high on the list of tourist attractions in Nevada (although it should be!).
The Monitor Valley Scenic Drive, as the name suggests, passes through a sprawling valley called the Monitor Valley. This valley is truly massive, being about seventy miles in length and 10-20 miles in width. The valley is located to the southwest of Eureka and just to the northeast of Belmont, NV. The valley is flanked on the east by a smaller mountain range and on the west by the very towering Toquima Mountains. The Toquima mountain peaks have a elevation over 11,000 feet and totally dominate the skyline, especially since they rise very steeply up from the valley floor.
The views on this drive are absolutely stunning, at least if you like “sweeping views.” Do NOT expect trees of any kind along the road. Indeed, the only trees found along the road between Belmont and US Highway 50 will be some sorry-looking trees near Belmont. But once you leave Belmont, you’ll leave the trees behind. Thus, if you are searching for trees, do yourself a favor and go elsewhere. But if you want sweeping views in a very lonely, isolated yet exceptionally beautiful place, the Monitor Valley of Central Nevada is the place to go.
How to Reach the Monitor Valley
So, how does one get to the Monitor Valley? Like most out of the way yet scenic places in Nevada, the Monitor Valley in Nevada requires some effort to reach. The easiest way is to head down Highway 50, aka the Loneliest Highway in America, from Eureka and head west for thirty miles. The road the Monitor Valley Scenic Drive follows is called the Belmont Road. There is a tiny sign letting you know of this roads existence on Highway 50. However, it is in no way "marked" or made to stand out. Thus, it's very easy to zoom right by the sign without knowing it is even there.
As for the condition of the Belmont Road, the road itself is usually in excellent condition. This gravel road is very wide, almost always flat, makes few turns and, due to the total lack of traffic, is usually quite smooth. You can fly down this road doing 50-60mph if you really want to and don’t mind some rock damage to your vehicle. About the only time you’re likely to run into any trouble on this road is during the winter (snow…although not that common) and during the short mud-season this part of Nevada has (periods in March-April usually).
Additionally, in May during the height of spring run-off, you’ll have to drive through a couple of streams that cross the road. The State of Nevada sees no point in erecting bridges for a bunch of seasonal streams in backwater areas. As such, during May you’ll find a half-dozen “mini-stream crossings” that every vehicle except during the true height of spring run-off should easily be able to navigate through. And note, these are tiny and shallow streams (usually). It is not like you are crossing the Mississippi River here.
Quick Facts About the Monitor Valley Scenic Drive
- Trip Length : 76 miles, one-way. Between US Highway 50 and Belmont, NV.
- Road Type - The road is gravel for the entire length. The road, though, is wide, flat and usually in excellent condition. Just come prepared for lots of dust during dry periods.
- RV's / Campers? - Yes.
- Services Available - Gas and supplies can be found in Eureka to the north and Tonopah to the south. Do NOT count on getting supplies in Belmont, as Belmont is basically a ghost town!
- General Location - Central Nevada, 30 miles southwest of Eureka. Drive follows the Belmont Road.
- Camping - For almost the entire length, this scenic drive passes through National Forest and BLM lands. Thus, primitive camping can be done anywhere. The only semi-developed campsite, however, is a mile south of Belmont.
Map of the Monitor Valley & Nearby Scenic Drives
Benchmark Nevada Road & Recreation Atlas : This topographic map book shows ALL roads in Nevada. This book is a mandatory requirement if you'll be venturing off the main highways shown on the tourist map. Additionally, this book shows many historical sites, points of interest and recreation areas.
More Info at Amazon
Where to Stay When Driving Through The Monitor Valley
There is NO lodging in the Monitor Valley. The town of Belmont does have some sort of a bed and breakfast, but I have no idea of what it's hours are or if it is even open anymore. Thus, if you want to stay in the Monitor Valley - bring your tent or camper. But if you need a hotel room, you can find one in either Eureka or Tonopah.
Lodging in Eureka