Interstate 80 in Nevada
Map of Nevada with I-80 in red
|Maintained by NDOT|
|Length:||410.576 mi (660.758 km)|
|Existed:||June 29, 1956 – present|
|West end:||I‑80 at California state line|
| I‑580 / US 395 in Reno
US 95 Alt. to US 50 Alt. in Fernley
US 95 near Lovelock
US 95 in Winnemucca
US 93 in Wells
US 93 Alt. in West Wendover
|East end:||I-80 at Utah state line|
Interstate 80 (I-80) traverses the northern portion of the U.S. state of Nevada. The freeway serves the Reno–Sparks metropolitan area, and also goes through the towns of Fernley, Lovelock, Winnemucca, Battle Mountain, Elko, Wells, and West Wendover on its way through the state.
I-80 follows the historical routes of the California Trail, First Transcontinental Railroad, and Feather River Route throughout portions of Nevada. Throughout the entire state I-80 follows the historical routes of the Victory Highway, State Route 1, and U.S. Route 40 (US 40). The freeway corridor follows the paths of the Truckee and Humboldt Rivers. These rivers have been used as a transportation corridor since the California Gold Rush of the 1840s.
I-80 enters Nevada in the canyon of the Truckee River, paralleling the California Trail and the First Transcontinental Railroad. Upon exiting the canyon the freeway serves the Truckee Meadows, a name for the urban area consisting of Verdi, Reno, and Sparks. The freeway passes north of Downtown Reno in a depressed alignment before intersecting Interstate 580 / U.S. Route 395. The intersection with US 395 is the busiest portion, averaging 122,000 vehicles per day in 2006. The freeway passes through downtown Sparks via a viaduct over the casino floor of John Ascuaga's Nugget Casino Resort. After leaving the Reno/Sparks metropolitan area the freeway resumes following the Truckee River in a canyon to Fernley. Traffic volumes drop to 26,600 vehicles per day by Fernley and continue dropping to 8,400 by the time the freeway reaches the center of the state. The freeway exits the Truckee River corridor near Wadsworth.
Lahontan Valley/Forty Mile Desert
Past Wadsworth, the freeway cuts across the Lahontan Valley. The Lahontan Valley is a barren desert, sometimes called the Forty Mile Desert, from the era of the California Trail. The name comes from the California Gold Rush where the emigrants who came into the Lahontan Valley via the Humboldt River. The travelers would have then to endure 40 miles (64 km) without usable water while crossing the valley, regardless of which of the two routes across the valley the travelers followed. I-80 closely approximates the path of the emigrants between the Humboldt and Truckee Rivers.
A marker stands at a rest area on the eastern edge of the valley, near the junction of I-80 and US 95, that honors travelers who suffered crossing the valley, thousands of whom abandoned possessions, animals, and even loved ones in the desert. Per the marker, this portion was the most dreaded portion of the California Trail.
For the next 246 miles (396 km), I-80 follows the Humboldt River. Along the way the freeway passes through the towns of Lovelock, Winnemucca, Battle Mountain, Carlin, Elko, and Wells. At Winnemucca, I-80 is joined by the Feather River Route; I-80 runs parallel to this railroad until the Utah state line.
The freeway is within visual distance of the river for most of this run. However, there are portions where the freeway bypasses bends by cutting across or tunneling under mountains along the canyon walls. Between Winnemucca and Battle Mountain, the freeway bypasses bends via side canyons and Golconda Summit, 5,159 feet (1,572 m). The highway also bypasses Palisade Canyon (between Beowawe and Carlin) via Emigrant Pass 6,114 feet (1,864 m). Just east of Carlin I-80 passes through the Carlin Tunnel to bypass curves of the river in the Carlin Canyon (between Carlin Tunnel and Elko).
After Wells, I-80 departs the Humboldt River, First Transcontinental Railroad, and the California Trail. From this point east the freeway follows the routes of Hastings Cutoff, Feather River Route, former US 40 and State Route 1. The freeway cuts across two mountain ranges before arriving at the Great Salt Lake Desert. The first is the Pequop Mountains via Pequop Summit, elevation 6,967 feet (2,124 m)—the highest point on Interstate 80 in Nevada—and the second is the Toano Range via Silver Zone Pass at 5,955 feet (1,815 m). After crossing these mountains the freeway arrives at West Wendover where the freeway enters both Utah and the Great Salt Lake Desert at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
- US 95 Alt, which runs concurrently with I-80 between Fernley and Trinity Junction near Lovelock.
- US 95, which runs concurrently with I-80 between Trinity Junction and Winnemucca.
- US 93 Alt, which runs concurrently with I-80 between the towns of Wells and West Wendover.
The general route of Interstate 80 was first used by California-bound travelers and was called the California Trail. From the Utah State line west to the Humboldt River, I-80 follows a modified routing of a lesser used branch of the trail called Hastings Cutoff. The cutoff rejoins the main route of the trail in the Humboldt River canyon. Through this portion of Nevada, the main route of the California Trail ran north of modern State Route 233.
From Elko west to Lovelock, I-80 faithfully follows the California Trail. West of Lovelock, in the middle of the Humboldt Sink, the California Trail again splits into two branches. These branches, the Carson River route and the Truckee River route, are named for the waterways that guide each branch up the Sierra Nevada mountains. I-80 follows the Truckee route, the Carson route is approximated by U.S. Route 95, U.S. Route 50, U.S. Route 395 and State Route 88 / California State Route 88.
The route of modern I-80 was also previously used for the construction of two transcontinental railroads. The First Transcontinental Railroad, completed in 1869, closely followed the main line of the California Trail, and I-80 west of Wells. The Feather River Route was constructed in 1909, and generally follows the Hastings Cutoff through eastern Nevada. It also runs parallel to I-80 in Nevada east of Winnemucca.
The first paved road across this portion of Nevada was the Victory Highway, designated in Nevada as State Route 1. With the formation of the U.S. Highway system, this route was numbered U.S. Route 40. From the formation of the Interstate Highway System the highway was gradually upgraded to Interstate Highway standards and signed Interstate 80. In 1974, officials in Utah initiated meetings with officials in Nevada and California to truncate the route of U.S. Route 91. By that time US 91 was mostly redundant with Interstate 15. Nevada officials agreed and further suggested that both US 91 and US 40 be truncated. Nevada officials recommended the changes occur in 1975, when the last Nevada piece of I-15 was expected to be complete. The 1976 edition of the Official Highway map for Nevada was the first not showing the US 40 designation. Even though the US Highway designation was removed, the freeway was not yet complete. The last piece of I-80 in Nevada to be finished was the Lovelock bypass which started construction in 1981. The 1982 Official Nevada Highway Map was the first to note I-80 as a contiguous freeway across the state. All of the business loops for I-80 in Nevada use the historical route of US 40.
|Washoe||0.0||0.0||—||I‑80 west – Sacramento||Continuation into California|
|Verdi||1||Verdi (I-80 Bus. east)||Westbound exit and entrance|
|2.8||4.5||2||Verdi (I-80 Bus. east / To SR 425)||No westbound entrance|
|3.2||5.1||3||Verdi||Westbound exit and eastbound entrance|
|4.8||7.7||4||Boomtown Garson Road|
|5.7||9.2||5||East Verdi (I-80 Bus. west, SR 425)||Westbound exit and eastbound entrance|
|7.7||12.4||8||West 4th Street (SR 647)||Eastbound exit and westbound entrance|
|10.7||17.2||10||McCarran Boulevard West (SR 659)|
|12.5||20.1||12||Keystone Avenue (to I-80 Bus.)|
|13.3||21.4||13||Virginia Street (US 395 Bus.) – Downtown||serves University of Nevada, Reno|
|14.1||22.7||14||Wells Avenue||serves Reno Livestock-Events Center|
|14.9||24.0||15||I‑580 south / US 395 – Carson City, Susanville||US 395 exit 68|
|Sparks||15.4||24.8||16||Victorian Avenue, East 4th Street (SR 647)|
|16.1||25.9||17||Rock Boulevard (SR 668)||serves Victorian Square; also signed for Nugget Avenue eastbound|
|16.8||27.0||18||SR 445 (Pyramid Way)||serves Victorian Square|
|17.6||28.3||19||McCarran Boulevard East (SR 659, to I-80 Bus. west)|
|18.9||30.4||20||Sparks Boulevard||serves Sparks Marina|
|19.7||31.7||21||Vista Boulevard, Greg Street|
|32.1||51.7||32||USA Parkway (SR 439)||serves Tahoe Reno Industrial Center; replaced former Tracy, Clark Station exit as of January 21, 2008|
|Wadsworth||44.0||70.8||43||Wadsworth, Pyramid Lake (I-80 Bus. east, SR 427)|
||No major junctions|
To US 95 Alt. south (I-80 Bus., SR 427) – West Fernley
US 95 Alt. south (I-80 Bus. west) to US 50 Alt. – East Fernley
|West end of US 95 Alt. overlap|
|50||Nevada Pacific Parkway|
|Churchill||65.2||104.9||65||Nightingale Hot Springs|
|83.3||134.1||83||US 95 south – Fallon, Las Vegas||East end of US 95 Alt. overlap; west end of US 95 overlap|
|Lovelock||105.5||169.8||105||Lovelock (I-80 Bus. east / SR 396)||Eastbound exit and westbound entrance|
|106.4||171.2||106||Downtown Lovelock (SR 398)|
|107.2||172.5||107||East Lovelock (I-80 Bus. west / SR 856)||Westbound exit and eastbound entrance|
|112.9||181.7||112||Coal Canyon (SR 396)|
|120.2||193.4||119||Oreana, Rochester (SR 858)|
|129.6||208.6||129||Rye Patch Dam (SR 401)|
|150.3||241.9||149||SR 400 – Mill City, Unionville|
|152.1||244.8||151||Mill City, Dun Glen||Westbound entrance is via exit 149|
|173.4||279.1||173||West Winnemucca Boulevard (I-80 Bus. east)|
|Winnemucca||176.7||284.4||176||US 95 north (I-80 Bus.) – Winnemucca, Downtown West||East end of US 95 overlap|
|179.0||288.1||178||SR 289 – Winnemucca, Downtown East|
|180.8||291.0||180||SR 794 (East Winnemucca Boulevard, I-80 Bus. west)|
|194.5||313.0||194||Golconda, Midas (SR 789)|
|Lander||Battle Mountain||230.2||370.5||229||SR 304 (I-80 Bus. east) – West Battle Mountain|
|231.7||372.9||231||SR 305 – Downtown Battle Mountain|
|233.6||375.9||233||SR 304 (I-80 Bus. west) – East Battle Mountain|
|261.4||420.7||261||SR 306 – Beowawe, Crescent Valley|
|Elko||Carlin||280.0||450.6||279||SR 278 (I-80 Bus. east / SR 221) – West Carlin, Eureka|
|281.4||452.9||280||SR 766 – Central Carlin|
|282.7||455.0||282||SR 221 (I-80 Bus. west) – East Carlin|
|Elko||299.2||481.5||298||Elko West (I-80 Bus. east / SR 535)|
|301.9||485.9||301||SR 225 – Elko Downtown|
|304.4||489.9||303||Elko East (I-80 Bus. west)|
|315.5||507.7||314||Ryndon, Devils Gate||CR 742|
|322.2||518.5||321||SR 229 – Halleck, Ruby Valley|
|334.5||538.3||333||Deeth, Starr Valley (SR 230)|
|344.4||554.3||343||Welcome, Starr Valley (SR 230)|
|Wells||351.6||565.8||351||West Wells (I-80 Bus. east / SR 223 / SR 231)|
|352.5||567.3||352A||US 93 – East Wells||West end of US 93 Alt. overlap; signed as exit 352 eastbound|
|352B||East Wells (I-80 Bus. west)||Westbound exit only|
|379.4||610.6||378||SR 233 – Oasis, Montello|
|399.2||642.5||398||Pilot Peak||CR 767|
US 93 Alt. south (I-80 Bus. east) – West Wendover, Ely
|East end of US 93 Alt. overlap|
|410.7||661.0||—||I-80 east – Salt Lake City||Continuation into Utah|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
- Weingroff, Richard F. "Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956: Creating the Interstate System". Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
- State Maintained Highways of Nevada: Description and Maps – Quarterly Changes (April, May, June). Nevada Department of Transportation. July 2014. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
- "2006 Annual Traffic Report" (PDF). Nevada Department of Transportation. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
- Nevada Road and Recreation Atlas (Map). 1:250000. Benchmark Maps. 2003. p. 47. ISBN 0-929591-81-X.
- "Forty Mile Desert: Nevada Historical Marker 26". Nevada State Historic Preservation Office. 2010. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
- Brock, Dick. "Photos and transcription of markers along the Forty Mile Desert, placed by the Oregon/California Trails Association". Trails West Inc. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
- Using distance between Lovelock and Wells
- 2013–2014 Official Highway Map (PDF) (Map). Nevada Department of Transportation. 2014. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
- Turner, Dan. "Carlin Canyon, Elko County, Nevada". Elko Rose Garden Association. Retrieved January 26, 2013.
- "Highway Resolution route 91". Utah Department of Transportation. Retrieved March 8, 2008.
- "Historical Maps". Nevada Department of Transportation. Retrieved January 26, 2013.
- "NDOT News Spring 2006" (PDF). Nevada Department of Transportation. 2006. Retrieved January 26, 2013.
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