Elko, Nevada is the middle distance overnight on the return from Yosemite National Park in California.
Early departure from Oakdale, California and driving west on Hwy 120 is briefly interrupted by an excellent omelette breakfast at IHOP in Manteca before cruising north on Interstate 5 through Stockton and Sacramento, California, to meet Interstate 80.
Interstate 80 east passes above 1,645 ft (501 m) deep Lake Tahoe, which makes it the 10th deepest lake in the world, and the 3rd deepest in North America. Soon we pass skyscraper casinos sporting brilliant neon signs attempting to lure us into Reno, Nevada.
Interstate 80 is a modern highway which crosses the United States on routes dating back to the earliest inhabitants of the continent. Much of this portion in California and Nevada follows the path of the Truckee River which served as a major transportation corridor in its own right for historical inhabitants and explorers.
The drive east across Nevada passes through magnificent desert on Interstate 80 aka Dwight D. Eisenhower Highway. Nevada has an average state elevation of 5,000 ft (1,524 m) and boasts five mountains over 12,000 ft (3,658 m).
The Rye Patch State Recreation Area precedes the drive east through Winnemucca and Battle Mountain to end the driving day in Elko, Nevada which is largely hidden but accessible by a side road that parallels Interstate 80. Elko is much larger than expected and hosts a thoroughly enjoyable late afternoon and overnight stay.
The Elko Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center is closed on arrival but time is taken to tour the grounds and photograph the relocated and refurbished Sherman Station historical structures.
The State motto, 'Battle Born' is a reminder Nevada became the 36th US State in 1864 during the Civil War.
The longer than usual search for a place to have supper ends at a main street restaurant called Toki Ona. The sign tells us it features Basque and American food. This place is chosen because it is easily accessible and appears, by parking lot size and activity, to be very busy and popular. The decision is a good one. As a matter of fact, it becomes one of the best dining experiences of the Yosemite trip and the first visit to a Basque Restaurant.
Table placement is swift and immediately a large bowl of complementary, thick, hearty, stick-to-your-ribs chicken-rice soup is served. The restaurant is busy and noisy. All restaurant staff are working fast and hard, preparing and delivering copious amounts of food. The Basque Ana Potatoes, served with roast turkey, have a unique and very pleasing flavor. As much as I want dessert, and we always have dessert, there is no room for dessert.
Cost is less than expected and the waddle out to the car for return to Elko overnight accommodation occurs beneath a spectacular Nevada sunset.
From Elko, the drive proceeds east to Wells, Nevada at an elevation of 5,630 ft (1,716 m) to head north on Hwy 93 via the same route used for leaving Canada. At Twin Falls, Idaho, the drive splits east on Interstate 84/86 and heads through Pocatello, then north on very familiar I-15 past Idaho Falls and Butte, Montana to overnight in Helena, before crossing the US/Canada border at Sweetgrass/Coutts.
This mission to Yosemite National Park has been an excellent adventure with an interesting array of new hiking experiences.
Thanks for sharing the journey.