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Old West Routes
 

Use the Route tab to explore options by desired time and pace on the trail.  

Our Scouting Reports & GPS Tracklogs retrace the paths blazed to old west frontiers by early pioneers and prospectors. They left an ideal overland explores playground in their wake; remote pack trails, wagon roads, water routes, ghost towns, boom camp survivors, mine relics, colorful history and a spirit for adventure that inspires. 

 
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North American Overland Journeys
 

Location tabs are the fastest way to find geographic regions of interest and interconnected trails.

All of our Scout Reports and GPS Tracklogs flow continuously from one interesting region to another, state-to-state, province-to-province, nation-to-nation using as little pavement as possible, and when we do, it tends to be byways versus freeways.

 
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Go Deeper: Foot, Bike, Horseback & Watercraft
 

For many, self-reliant vehicle overlanding is the adventure. Others Go Deeper. 

All our Scouting Expeditions provide opportunity to hike, bike and backpack. Many routes also provide equestrian and watercraft journey extensions. We’ve flagged some favorites to inspire you to take your overland adventure to another level.

 
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Explore what fascinates you the most.
 

Every Scouting Expedition is researched to travel through Old West Frontiers rich with interesting trails, tales and relics. 

The roar of the rush has subsided, but imprints linger; ghost towns, abandoned rails turned to trails, surviving boomtowns that retain the charm of yesteryear continue to outfit today’s adventurers with supplies, historical lodging and spirits. Look deeper, and you will find signs of Native America.

 
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Choose Your Pace & Challenge
 

As most of our Scouting Expedition GPS Tracklogs are interlinked, the base route is most often Easy or Moderate, but we explore Difficult options along the way. Some can be overgrown and sometimes barley visible, making them that much more appealing for those looking to build that into thier own adventure. Three broad categories are used but beware, what is Easy today can be Difficult tommorow, due to environmental conditions (see Go Prepared). 

 
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Get Lost in the Journey
 

One of the greatest pleasures associated with 4WD vehicle overlanding is the ability to wander at will, as one trail leads to another in a maze of options. However, advance research can help you explore routes that fascinate you the most and can make the most of your time.

There is nothing wrong with using a map and compass for guidance. In fact, you should always have them with you. But GPS technology and affordable mapping software really empower you to free-flow and always have a sense of where you are, at all times.

 
Bodie California, is stabilized in a state of “arrested decay” with stocked shops left the way they were deserted
Explore: Ghost Towns/ Survivors
Even 160 Years Later, Many Stand, Preserved Glimpses Into The Past

Starting in 1860, thousands of mining camps and towns sprang up across the American West in the most unusual and inaccessible places; barren sagebrush deserts, deep forests, canyons so narrow railways had to run up the main streets, built over creeks, streets clinging to mountainsides. Most were abandoned as quickly as they sprang up, when the money ran out. Stores, hotels, saloons, brothels, houses, railway stations were deserted contents and all. Others hung on until they were bypassed by a railway or highway. Surprisingly, many stand today in a variety of states; abandoned ruins, stabilized in a state of “arrested decay” or restored to their original glory. Most of the survivors have done so because of a select few, that stay behind and protect the town, its relics and history. When you encounter these resident-guardians along the trail, they often are very interesting to talk and are generally quick to share their knowledge with people that show a genuine interest, including where hidden relics remain for keen visitors.

Trek Legs

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Homesteads & Railtowns: Therien - Bonnyville

There is a unique peace and serenity to be found in the prairies while exploring the, now, little used network of wagon roads created to link rail town elevators with homestead grains. Many ghost-homestead survive waiting to be appreciated; icons of the backbone of the Canadian West.

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Homesteads & Railtowns: Bellis - Badlands

In the quest for mystical journeys, we sometimes forget to explore the magic of our own backyards. Living in Calgary, the temptation is always to head west through the mountains, but every other direction leads to little used networks left by railroads and wagon roads to 100 year old homesteads.

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Retallack-Cody Over-the-top Trail

A region so thick with relics, it was coined the “Valley of the Ghosts”. Off-road vehicles can retrace the exhilarating over-the-top Retallack to Cody Wagon Road past interesting mines and jaw dropping mountain views. Retrace the 1891 discovery route of 'Silvery Slocan'.

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Gleeson Pearce Ghost Town Road & The Dragoon Mountains

We followed the High Lonesome Road to the tip of the Dragon Mountains. Cochise County coined the route the Pearce Ghost Town Road, to stimulate interest in the relic-rich region. Weaving between the old road and abandoned bed of the Arizona & Colorado Railway added interest.

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Berlin, side-door to Pony Express and Ft. Churchill

Berlin ghost town has been stabilized and protected, so there is much to see. Up the hill, we explored a ancient Ichthyosaur dinosaur bed. Our route makes a stop at the intact Poinsettia Mine camp before traveling north past Rawhide where we join the Pony Express to Fort Churchill.

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Lowell, The Shady Dell & The High Lonesome Road

During my research for interesting trails running north from the Mexican-SE Arizona, I came across a road called “The High Lonesome”. It was just so Hollywood romantic; I had to try it out. The abandoned road is a blast, but it was discovering the combined Bisbee-Lowell urban frontier, that was so magical.

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Apache Pass & Great Overland Stage Road of 1861

TREK LEG ROUTE SLIDESHOW and GPS/GPX Maps are ACTIVE.

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Atlantic City, Miners Delight & Red Pass

TREK LEG ROUTE SLIDESHOW and GPS/GPX Maps are ACTIVE.

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1869 South Pass City & Carissa Mine

Under construction but TREK LEG SLIDESHOWS are ACTIVE.

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Goodsprings, SE backdoor to Death Valley

TREK LEG ROUTE SLIDESHOW and GPS/GPX Maps are ACTIVE.

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Backpacking & Dispersed Camping in Zion

TREK LEG ROUTE SLIDESHOW and GPS/GPX Maps are ACTIVE.

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Cowboy Trail & Nanton Loop

TREK LEG ROUTE SLIDESHOW and GPS/GPX Maps are ACTIVE.

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Bannack, 1864 Capital of Montana Territory

TREK LEG ROUTE SLIDESHOW and GPS/GPX Maps are ACTIVE.

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Smiley Rock Trail to Williams “Route 66”

TREK LEG ROUTE SLIDESHOW and GPS/GPX Maps are ACTIVE.

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Badlands Coal Towns & Ghost Towns

TREK LEG ROUTE SLIDESHOW and GPS/GPX Maps are ACTIVE.

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Jerome & Cleopatra Hill

TREK LEG ROUTE SLIDESHOW and GPS/GPX Maps are ACTIVE.

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Backway to Cottonwood & Jerome

TREK LEG ROUTE SLIDESHOW and GPS/GPX Maps are ACTIVE.

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Rhyolite, Red Pass & Titus Canyon

TREK LEG ROUTE SLIDESHOW and GPS/GPX Maps are ACTIVE.

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Rhyolite, Red Pass & Titus Canyon

TREK LEG ROUTE SLIDESHOW and GPS/GPX Maps are ACTIVE.

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Echo Canyon, Inyo Mine to T&T Railway

TREK LEG ROUTE SLIDESHOW and GPS/GPX Maps are ACTIVE.

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Prescott; 1864 Arizona Territory Capital

TREK LEG ROUTE SLIDESHOW and GPS/GPX Maps are ACTIVE.

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Bisbee; Urban Outpost on the Frontier

During the summer of 1876, the 6th US Cavalry was called to the field to put down the Chiricahua Apaches. In pursuit, Company C followed an Indian trail by Castle Rock Spring. Faint signs of copper discovered were the beginning of one an outstanding mining city that would survive without loosing its frontier soul.

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Borax Mule Train Trails to Titan Canyon

TREK LEG ROUTE SLIDESHOW and GPS/GPX Maps are ACTIVE.

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Bumblebee to Cleator & Crown King

TREK LEG ROUTE SLIDESHOW and GPS/GPX Maps are ACTIVE.

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Abandoned Railway to Fairbanks

We retraced the Overland Stage route and the El Paso & Southwestern Railway that share the corridor between Tombstone and Fairbank, a known refuge for the cattle rustlers and robbers such as Johnny Ringo, Curly Bill and Billy Clanton.

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1849 California Gold Rush Journey

TREK LEG ROUTE SLIDESHOW and GPS/GPX Maps are ACTIVE.

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Old Woman Mountains & Mojave Wilderness

TREK LEG ROUTE SLIDESHOW and GPS/GPX Maps are ACTIVE.

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Overland Stage, Virginia Dale & Encampment

TREK LEG ROUTE SLIDESHOW and GPS/GPX Maps are ACTIVE.

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Boundary Badlands & Rangelands

TREK LEG ROUTE SLIDESHOW and GPS/GPX Maps are ACTIVE.

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Minehaha Creek Loop to Crown King

TREK LEG ROUTE SLIDESHOW and GPS/GPX Maps are ACTIVE.

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Old Dale & Gold Crown Mine Trail

TREK LEG ROUTE SLIDESHOW and GPS/GPX Maps are ACTIVE.

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Backway to Crown King & Senator Highway

TREK LEG ROUTE SLIDESHOW and GPS/GPX Maps are ACTIVE.

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China Ranch to Echo Canyon

TREK LEG ROUTE SLIDESHOW and GPS/GPX Maps are ACTIVE.

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Tombstone & The Texas Cowboys Gunfight at OK Corral

Albeit, somewhat commercialized Tombstone is still a good place to start your journey, where the global fascination with the American Wild West was sparked when the Earp Brothers, Doc Holiday and the Texas Cowboys would square off at OK Corral in 1881.

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Vulture, Stanton & Prescott Stage Road

TREK LEG ROUTE SLIDESHOW and GPS/GPX Maps are ACTIVE.

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Besh-Ba-Gowa Pueblo, Globe & Miame Ghost Town

Byway loosely travels ancient trade route to Mexico, passing Bésh Baa Gową ruins, a prehistoric 400 room trade Pueblo, later spawned the 1875 mine camp of Globe and nearby Miami. Many turn-of-the century structures survive in the near ghost town.

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Apache Trail & Superstitions

Trek Legs make it easy to dip in and out for a day and/or a night of dispersed camping on the way to Overland Expo or spend days on four different mining region trails leading to the heart of an 800 year old civilization and a true desert oasis along Grand Canyon.

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Route 66 Byway (Oatman to Flagstaff)

Did you know the roots of iconic Route 66 date back to a prehistoric trade route that was broadened to a wagon road by the Army Camel Corps?

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Moss Wash to Gold King

Moss Wash back door to Gold King Mine provides a challenging trail link to Route 66 and the spectacular Havasu Falls or Grand Canyon Havasupai Point.

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Pass Canyon to Oatman

Diverse range of remote trails and craggy canyons of the Black Mountain, first blazed in 1860’s, now populated only by curious mountain sheep and wild burros.

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Packsaddle Mountain to Chloride & The Beale Wagon Road

The living ghost town of Chloride, revitalized by artists and artisans, makes for an interesting stop and the hills above are easily accessed for overnight camping.

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Perry Back Rd to Rossland

Perry Back Road follows the slow flowing part of the Slocan River, ideally suited to paddlers, floaters and swimmers. Bikers/hikers can take advantage of the extensive Rail-to-trail network on their way to the exciting gold rush city of Rossland.

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New Denver-Perry Back Rd.

Surrounded by rivers and lakeshores, the ‘Silvery Slocan’ feels like a mountainous coastal island forest, capped by rugged peaks. Old West false-front stores continue to outfit overlanders touring lakeshore boomtowns or deep wilderness.

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Ft. Fizzel to Wallace

Wallace is a gem worth spending some time in; resupply, dine and refresh your party at the Art-Deco Ryan Hotel before driving/biking through 14 cavernous tunnels and 9 high trestles of The Route of The Hiawatha nearby.

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Shoup to Ft. Fizzel

Route retraces Lewis & Clark’s aborted trip up the Salmon River and on to “Lost Trail Pass” where the Discovery Corp lost their way while traveling over the Continental Divide. Trek finishes at “Lolo Trail” a Nez Perce path used for their annual buffalo hunt.

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Bayhorse to Shoup Byway

As with all our routes, we avoid paved roads as much as possible in favor of less traveled backroads that go deeper into wilderness regions. In doing so in this series, we miss the nicest section of one of America’s most scenic two-lane paved byways.

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Bayhorse Mine to Yellowjacket

Classic ghost town structures, charcoal kilns, tramline buildings and optional ‘white-knuckle’ ledge roads to the mines above makes Bayhorse a rewarding side trip as do the remote Crags of River of No Return Wilderness and the Yellowjacket Mine.

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Bonanza to Bayhorse Mine

Starting in ghost town of Bonanza, route retraces toll wagon/stage road past intact Yankee Forks Gold Dredge, Custer ghost town, over 8,800’ pass to Challis and to outstanding Bayhorse Ghost Town and white-knuckle ledge road to Skylark Mine.

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Grimes Pass to Bonanza

Travel three mountain passes and meadows to the Cape Horn region of the magnificent Sawtooth Mountains. Stanley’s old west log structures, the jagged mountains and Salmon River gateway are a magnet for outdoor enthusiasts.

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Idaho City to Grimes Pass

Boise Basin Gold Rush was one of the earliest in Washington Territory and was, in large part, responsible for Idaho becoming a state a year after the 1862 discovery. The area is peppered with relics and old mining wagon roads into pristine wilderness.

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Atlanta to Idaho City

Route starts in Atlanta, just south of the Sawtooth Range and travels along four separate scenic river canyons to Idaho City, the most prosperous of all of the Boise Basin Gold Rush Camps; a survivor that continues to serve today’s overlanders.

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Oregon Trail to Atlanta

Perpetuate the accomplishments of 400,000 original ‘Overlanders’ that crossed America on the Oregon Trial by retracing Three Island Crossing to Bonneville Point before carrying on to the outstanding Sawtooth Mountain ghost town of Atlanta.

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Silver City to Oregon Trail

Legendary Lost Blue Bucket Mine of 1845 discovered by an Oregon Trail party captivated many to seek the site, leading to the 1863 gold strike made below War Eagle Mountain and the incredible silver bonanza in the surrounding mountains.

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Owyhee Canyon to Silver City

Travel from the deep-shadowed and remote canyons of the Owyhee River, through the Indian War stronghold of Three Forks to the heart of the second richest silver strike of the old west, War Eagle Mountain. Relive Silver City, a tremendous valley boomtown survivor where you can refresh your party at the 1866 Idaho Hotel.

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Buckskin Pass to Owhyee Desert

Route carries on from picturesque Windy Gap switchbacks, past mines lured to the region by the legendary 1859 Lost Buckskin Mine, before reaching the summit and a ledge road that drops down lush rangelands to Owyhee Desert.

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Belmont to Berlin via 10,000' Ophir Pass

You may find it difficult to leave the charismatic ghost town of Belmont, but the 10,000’ Ophir Canyon Pass awaits - up a rugged road, over, and down a breathtaking ledge road before dropping into Ione Canyon to the ghost towns of Ione and Berlin.

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Gold Point to Tonopah

Route travels from the fantastic ghost town of Gold Point with over 50 relics to explore, through sparse Joshua tree forest, extensive mine relics and boomtown survivors of Goldfield and Tonopah.

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Rhyolite to Gold Point

This Trek Leg has it all; interesting turn-of-the century ghost towns and relics to explore, a diverse range of trails, topography to encounter including the most exciting entrance into Death Valley, Red Pass and Titus Canyon.

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Sandon & Trails of Idaho Peak

Explore the eclectic collection of ghost town relics in Sandon before you drive to Idaho Peak trailhead for an easy hike that provides breathtaking views of the entire Slocan Valley and puts you eye-to-eye with Kokanee Park and Vahalla Glaciers.

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Retallack to Sandon and the Kaslo & Slocan Rail Trail

Mountains flush with trails to explore; old wagon roads, abandoned rail beds and pack trails that lead to interesting mines, ghost towns, incredible mountain top views, alpine meadows and wilderness camps.

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Kaslo to Retallack

Kalso is an ideal base camp or springboard to Kootenay Lake, Kokanee Glacier Park, Valley of the Ghosts or up to Lardeau Country for a stay at the 1897 Windsor Hotel.

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Kootenay Marine Camping

Serene and pristine, it’s rare to find such a wide array of secluded beaches that are open to the public for day use or overnight marine camping. Most of the 260-km/160-miles of shoreline is only accessible by watercraft, ideally suited to going deeper.

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Sasquatch Lake to Kaslo

Old mining wagon roads fan out from Ainsworth Hot Springs and Kalso providing access to the mountain wilderness above and Kokanee Glacier Park adventures. Historical Sternwheeler landings and marinas continue to launch watercraft of all kinds.

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Balfour to Sasquatch Lake

Disembark the ferry, hit the sandy beach, shoot up to Kootenay Glacier Park for incredible craggy peak hikes or head into Nelson to experience urban Kootenay Mountain culture, at its best. Make time for all if you can.

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US Border to Fort Steele

This Leg leaves the Idaho-Montana Journey to travel through ‘The Sunny Side of the Rockies’ to the restored boomtown and North West Mounted Police Post; Ft. Steele supply center to Wild Horse Gold Rush of 1863.

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Pyramid Lake to Black Rock

Route leaves sandy beaches of Pyramid Lake to travel across remote desert open range trails to the infamous Black Rock Desert playa, a route first explored by The 1843 Frémont Expedition, before it was incorporated into the California Trail.

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Virginia City to NV Baja

Wallow in the old west glory of Virginia City, take a historical toll road and carry on wagon roads past Lousetown and Washington Mine to Pyramid Lake where you can drive along sandy Baja-like beaches until you find an ideal spot to camp.

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Ft. Churchill to Virginia City

Depart the ruins of the Union Army Fort and follow the Pony Express to Virginia City, one of North Americas’ best-preserved 1860’s old west boomtowns, home to the incredible Comstock Silver Lode and terminus to Virginia & Truckee RR, now reopened.

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Tonopah to Belmont & Austin

WWII ghost hangers, boomtown survivors, extensive mining relics, ghost towns, hot springs you can bath in, prehistoric cave pictographs and an extensive network of stagecoach/wagon roads, serine desert and Toiyabe Forest trails to explore.

OverlandFrontier.com Must Come To An End

It is with a heavy heart that we must advise our supporters that we are forced to close the Overland Frontier website. While the site was only open for one year, we started development many years earlier. Since that time the importance of a mobile friendly website has increased. We hope we can be back one day, with a new and improved resource for overland routes. We have so many more Treks, Journeys and Expeditions that we did not have time to showcase. We are anxious to find a new mobile-friendly channel to share these routes with other enthusiasts and we are open to ideas and partners; contact rogermercier@me.com

In the meantime follow our expeditions on Facebook