I’m sure you have seen the videos or watched the news out of Las Vegas on a Sunday afternoon. Tourists trying to get back to southern California, on Interstate 15, in absolute virtual gridlock. Bumper to Bumper traffic trying to get over the mountain pass. People just wanting to make it to Baker, California before their next birthday!
The toughest part of their trip back home is that first mountain pass outside Las Vegas. Getting into Baker, California. Once you get over the mountain pass and reach Baker, the highway starts to open up and traffic moves a little faster. But that first part is long and it is brutal on Sunday afternoon.
The entire trip from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, on a normal day, is about a 4.5-hour trip in one direction. With Sunday traffic? That same trip can be 6 to 12 hours. Longer if there are any major accidents along the way!
A Secret Path Out?
Looking on a map, you may not realize there is an alternative. It may look longer in miles, but it’s a lot faster in speed because you moving. You aren’t sitting in gridlock, reading the bumper sticker on the car in front of you for hours.
Yes, a secret route around that gridlock. You are moving, seeing some scenery that doesn’t include looking at other vehicles’ bumpers! And to add to the adventure, you will be following along one of the most famous trails in the wild west, the Old Spanish Trail!
It’s a Desert Out There
As you get on the I-15 South from the Las Vegas Strip, look for the Blue Diamond exit. Once on Blue Diamond Road (Nevada 160), there are a number of travel stops and gas stations right there. Please play it safe, it is a desert out there. Always fill up, fuel up and make sure you and the vehicle are ready for the trip. Stay nourished and hydrated. You can never be too careful. Especially in the summer heat. Ok? Thank You.
You are on Blue Diamond Road, heading for the mountains and the big city of Pahrump. Just joking on the “Big City” part. The area you first encounter is the new boom area for people escaping the crazy state of California and moving here. There is also a back way from there to Red Rock Conservation Area. Otherwise, you are heading for a higher elevation and the county line.
Just watch your speeds and other traffic. Once over the mountain, the highway opens up to a flat, four-lane highway. Look for the left lane turnoff to Tecopa Road and The Old Spanish Trail Highway.
Stay on that, you will pass thru the town of Topeca, California. Famous for their hot springs spa. The road ends at a “T” at California Highway 127, also called Death Valley Road. Turn left and head for Baker, California, home of the world’s largest thermometer and connection to Interstate 15.
Las Vegas to Baker: 94 Miles
Time on Sunday: 3 Hours!
Las Vegas to Topeca to Baker: 134 miles
Time on Sunday: 2 hours
So it comes down to this. You can spend three hours driving along at a few miles per hour, looking at the bumper of the car in front of you, wondering if you will ever get over the hump. or you can spend three hours moving at the speed of life, getting some scenery that is not the back end of another car, knowing the worst part is behind you….