From 1848-1855, more than a quarter of a million people traveled along the California National Historic Trail in search of gold. Instead of finding gold, they found an idyllic land with the perfect climate for growing plants and flowers all year round – California! Today, you can travel along the California National Historic Trail by driving west from Nevada to California. This road trip is a vast scene of undeveloped land as you pass by mountains and through deserts. The trail passes through the states of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, and California. We’ve got a couple of highways along this trail that lead you to your destination – Thousand Trails and Encore campgrounds, of course! Here is a map from nps.gov which shows the highways that allow you to travel in the same footsteps as the people, who in search of gold, were a part of the greatest mass migration in American history.
The Carson Trail
The Carson Trail is a 40 mile segment of the California Trail and is named for Christopher “Kit” Carson, an American explorer. To get to this trail, take U.S. Route 50 west from Nevada to Sacramento and the trail’s end. This trail is unique because it was constructed in the direction of west to east, but during the Gold Rush people passed through Nevada to California going east to west. You’ll also pass through Reno, “The Biggest Little City in the World,” where you can visit the Sierra Nevada on the western edge of the Great Basin, or head into town and do a little gambling. You may have taken U.S. Route 50 before to get to Snowflower RV Campground, Ponderosa RV Campground, or Lake Minden RV Campground, but now you’ll have a little bit of history in your pocket to pull out when you take this highway!
The Applegate Trail
The Applegate Trail, though considered part of the California Trail, breaks off near Lassen’s meadow on the Humboldt River near Nevada. This trail continues northwest and takes drivers through Rabbithole Springs and nearly 100 miles of desert across the Black Rock Desert and High Rock Canyon. Then the trail continues up north towards the lush landscape of Willamette Valley in Oregon, a welcomed reprieve from the desert lands. If you decide to drive the Applegate Trail, you’ll take State Route 299 west through Alturas. Take State Route 139 west into Oregon and be sure to stop at the Bend-Sunriver RV Campground after a long day’s drive.
Have you driven along one of America’s National Historic Trails? Tell us about it in the comments!