Best Burger and Backroads for Travelers in Central Nevada

21 Jul 2022
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There’s a monster residing in the solitary heart of The Great Basin—but it’s a monster you don’t want to run from. 

With crispy onion rings and pimento olives for eyes, and a triple, juicy deck of Angus beef for a body, Middlegate Station is a must-stop for a Monster Burger as you explore Highway 50.

Tucked away in a sleepy saloon town with a population of 23, Middlegate Station was named in 1850 by James Simpson as he mapped the route for the Overland Stage Company. He noticed the mountains looked like ’gates’ so he named each cut Westgate, Middlegate, and Eastgate to identify the route he journeyed across the desert. The town transformed into numerous services for mining and freight, as well as one of the official stops of The Pony Express. 

Today, Middlegate Station serves as a restaurant and bar, and is home to some of the best burgers in the state of Nevada. It’s also in close proximity to historic landmarks such as Sand Mountain and The Shoe Tree, a cottonwood tree showcasing a collection of travelers’ shoes from over the years. 

The Monster Burger is a beastly one, containing 1 and 1/3 pounds of Angus beef on a sourdough bun with lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, pickles, cheese, peppers and olives, and a colossal batch of freshly made fries. Together, that’s a hearty four pounds of food!

The Monster Burger is scrumptious but you better grab your armor; you must finish the entire dish in one sitting, with winners taking home a free shirt. 

Middlegate Station is at 42500 Austin Highway, east from Fallon. Starting in Fallon, go straight on U.S. 50 East for 47 miles, and turn right at NV-361 South. 

Step foot at Pony Express stations 

Whether you’ve championed the Monster Burger Challenge or not, the exploration doesn’t end there. There were at least 30 stations throughout Nevada during the Pony Express years, such as Cold Springs and “Rock Springs”. But what’s left of the trail remains just south of Sand Mountain. 

You can take a step back in time by visiting the most well-known ruin on the route: The Central Overland Trail at Sand Springs Station. This was forgotten about after the Pony Express shut down. The drifting sands from Sand Mountain buried the station for more than a century, until a team of archaeologists excavated the structure in the 1970s. 

Tour the roads less traveled: Nevada 722

This is an opportunity for travelers to brag about their visit in a remote location of central Nevada—a road that’s seldom taken, one that not many residents know about. 

Nevada State Route 722—known as the old U.S. 50—is a scenic route along the Desatoya Mountains at Carroll Summit. The 63-mile route is paved and is well marked for this even lonelier but breathtaking alternative. 

The road rejoins alignment where The Shoe Tree is located on U.S. 50, two and a half miles east of Middlegate Station. To get to 722, the turn is one mile east after The Shoe Tree.

Desatoya Mountains at Carroll Summit

Nevada 722 has more than the dispersed Smith Creek Valley, and the snow-capped peaks of the Shoshone Mountains and the Toiyabe Range; there are historical nuggets throughout the valley as well, such as Carroll Summit. 

The summit was named after Charlie Carroll of Ireland, who discovered gold in the area. This led to the creation of a small town in 1911 over Carroll Summit, followed by a post office opening in December of that year. But it closed in 1914 as production for the community was limited. 

Carroll Station operated as a service station until 1967 when the highway was routed along the older Pony Express Trail through Cold Springs. It’s nothing but a fond memory with a couple of buildings still standing in place. 

Road Trip Tip

Some conditions on Nevada-722 have a few twists and turns as it crosses a pass through the Desatoya Mountains/Carroll Summit.

Nevada-722 is actually two miles shorter than U.S. 50., but the views make the trip more than worthwhile.



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