Monday, October 11, 2010

Highway 8A: The Cutoff from Cedarville to the Winnemucca-to-the-Sea Highway


After traveling past the Deep Creek Falls pullout, past Adel, Oregon, and onward past marshes or reservoirs, past interesting but unknown volcanic geology, and over at least two summits...
...we finally came into Nevada...
...and shortly came to the turnoff that was one of the primary purposes for taking the Winnemucca-to-the-Sea Highway back into Nevada, instead of another, much shorter route. That turnoff is the north end of Highway 8A as it still exists today. Highway Eight A, Yay!
The sign says, "Cedarville: 71 miles." There is pavement in Cedarville, CA, west to the Nevada border, but none beyond that, and none from this turnoff south to the Nevada border.
Will we see a sign proclaiming the road as S.R. 8A? We turned south near this mini-kiosk for the Sheldon Antelope Wildlife Refuge to find out.
Looking to the south, it became apparent that this fine-looking dirt road isn't signed 8A from the north end, though it may still be signed 8A from the southwest end, just east of Cedarville, CA, in Nevada where this portion of old Highway 8A starts. (Where does a road start or end? This one starts in CA, goes northeast to the former continuation of 8A and 8, which are now Highway 140 and Highway 95, not entirely respectively, also part of the Winnemuccca-to-the-Sea Highway.)
Current signs indicate that the road — the entire remaining portion of Highway 8A — is "Not Regularly Maintained" and is "Closed in Winter." I suspect that the road is actually open during the winter (not blocked) but that it isn't plowed, can drift shut or get completely buried during snowstorms, and may turn muddy. I also suspect that the sign is there to indicate that people without backcountry experience or who are unfamiliar with the area are not advised to enter, especially in winter. This signage may have something to do with a winter saga that turned out okay, but looked bleak for a while. The last time this road was marked 8A on Nevada road maps was in 1980-1981.

[Note: if the Stolpa's indeed headed due east from the place they abandonded their truck on Highway 8A some unknown miles east of the non-town of Vya, NV, as reported, they would have eventually hooked up with the north-south portion of Highway 140 where it is part of Highway 95 — after crossing 50 miles of rugged canyon country while going entirely against the grain of canyons and mountains. Possibly they could have veered northward toward Gridley Lake, where there may be some active ranches; had they continued due east, they would have either had to cross the Pine Forest Range or, if veering southward to avoid that range, they would have ended up in the northeast arm of the Black Rock Desert, where there might also be active ranches.]

Sidebar: The Kims


Points on 8A (above): Point A, the NV-CA state line; Point B, near Vya, NV; Point C, random location on 8A, possibly a good truck-abandoning location (NOT!); Point D, 8A joins 140. (Update: These points can currently only be seen by clicking through to Google Maps; 24Sept2014)

The earlier sign, before the turnoff, essentially indicates that it's 71 miles southwest from the junction of Highways 140 and 8A to the nearest services in Cedarville, CA, unless, of course, you happen to be going to Gerlach, NV, in which case services are a mite farther south. The longest interval of no services that I've noticed recently says 163 miles, leaving Tonopah to the east on Route 6, going toward Warm Springs and the so-called E.T. Highway.
We turned around, being entirely unprepared to drive so far out of our way and shortly running out of trip time...
...and continued our wayward journey toward Winnemucca on the Winnemucca-to-the-Sea Highway.

To be continued...

13 comments:

Gaelyn said...

I love those kind of roads yet it's always a good idea to go prepared for anything.

Lockwood said...

This stretch of road, between Adel and Denio, is one of my favorites.

Silver Fox said...

Gaelyn, when off-roading, I always have a sleeping bag and other cole-weather gear, water, at least some food, and ways of making fire.

Silver Fox said...

Lockwood, there are some really neat spots, and we zoomed through way too fast!

Jim - JnR Hotel said...

Do not travel 8A in the winter. The snow drifts get too deep. When your wheeels do not touch the ground because you are on a drift there is not much you can do. Digging out will only get you a few feet. It is a very long, ardous walk to Cedarville and only a few folks may be around to help you out. It is easy to get lost too because you often cannot see the road in the snow.

Dan McShane said...

I have headed east of Cedarville twice. Once in October to the hot springs on the valley floor a few miles north of the paved road. I had a very nice soak, but it really was dumping snow and got me very nervous about getting out of there.
The other time I drove from Cedarville to Gerlach via Vya (can't say there was much of anything left of Vya). That trip was in April and I left the only tracks on the snow covered road from just west of Vya until the snow ran out a few miles north of Gerlach. The deepest snow was 5 inches and it was touchy for about 10 miles. Not one of my better planned trips. I had plenty of warm gear and food, but getting stuck in that area would likely lead to a very long wait.

Silver Fox said...

Jim, yeah, driving into drifts is never my idea of a good thing to do. I've only ever been up into that country (besides the road to Gerlach), during early hunting season. Not ever when there was any snow.

Silver Fox said...

Dan, I now carry a SPOT, which will signall 911 via satellite, and will send a rescue. I should blog about the SPOT. These work everywhere, except, perhaps, in deep canyons.

Back in the day, there wasn't any way of contacting anyone, and the only hope was that people knew which route you had taken. I'm always veering off onto unknown-to-me roads, though usually with a clear idea of where they should be going. Snow and whiteout can change everything very fast.

John C. Baker said...

Taking a scenic road trip next summer and was considering taking 299 then 8A from Alturas to 140 and beyond. I see all the worries about 8A in the winter, but how is it in the summer? Also how is the gravel on a regular sedan's tires and suspension, say a Honda Civic? (I'm not worried about dirt/paint scratches, etc.)

Silver Fox said...

John, I haven't been on that part of 8A in recent years, and have not ever traveled much east or northeast of Vya, if at all. It looks good from the north, but other than that, I can't really help much!

Anonymous said...

There is no "Nevada Route 8A" and hasn't been for a very long time. Unfortunately, Google likes to try to ressurrect the old highway numbers, but Google has proven unreliable in this matter. For a map of official Nevada state routes, try the official NDOT highway map.
http://www.nevadadot.com/traveler_info/maps/state_map.aspx

Silver Fox said...

Anonymous, Thanks for the input. This post has nothing to do with what is or isn't available through Google Maps or Google Earth, other than the embedded map I created, which can now only be seen by clicking thru to Maps. This blog, Looking for Detachment at highway8a.blogspot.com, has several entries about old Highway 8A, which was on Nevada maps last in 1980-81, and as stated in more than one place, signs for 8A in northwestern Nevada were seen as recently as 2006. For more information about the references to old 8A on this blog, please read this page (and others). By telling me that the road technically no longer exists (the road exists, but the numbers were changed in 1981), you aren't telling me anything I haven't known since 1981.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous--you are correct that Nevada 8A may not officially exist in some areas or on some maps--road names and numbers have changed over the years. However, it does exist from the CA state line past Nevada SR 34 connection south of the Washoe County Road Maintenance facility in Vya. Ranchers that live in or frequent this area are familiar with that portion of the road. Best for anyone traveling thru NW Nevada/Washoe County to use several sources of reference--GPS gets people lost occasionally!