Interstate 80 in Nevada

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Interstate 80

Dwight D. Eisenhower Highway
Purple Heart Trail
I-80 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by NDOT
Length410.67 mi[1] (660.91 km)
ExistedJune 29, 1956[2]–present
NHSEntire route
Major junctions
West end I-80 at California state line
Major intersections
East end I-80 at Utah state line
CountryUnited States
CountiesWashoe, Storey, Lyon, Churchill, Pershing, Humboldt, Lander, Eureka, Elko
Highway system
  • Nevada State Highway System
US 50 SR 88

Interstate 80 (I-80) traverses the northern portion of the US state of Nevada. The freeway serves the Reno metropolitan area and passes through the towns of Fernley, Lovelock, Winnemucca, Battle Mountain, Carlin, Elko, Wells, and West Wendover on its way through the state.

I-80 follows the historical routes of the California Trail, first transcontinental railroad and Feather River Route throughout portions of Nevada. Throughout the entire state, I-80 follows the historical routes of the Victory Highway, State Route 1 (SR 1), and US Route 40 (US 40). The freeway corridor follows the paths of the Truckee and Humboldt rivers. These rivers have been used as a transportation corridor since the California Gold Rush of the 1840s.

The Nevada portion of I-80 has been designated as the Dwight D. Eisenhower Highway and Purple Heart Trail.

Route description

Truckee River

View east along I-80 just after entering Nevada from California. The first transcontinental railroad is visible on the lower right.

I-80 enters Nevada in the canyon of the Truckee River, paralleling the California Trail and first transcontinental railroad. Upon exiting the canyon, the freeway serves the Truckee Meadows, a name for the urban area consisting of Verdi, Reno, and Sparks. The freeway passes north of downtown Reno in a depressed alignment before intersecting I-580/US 395. The interchange with US 395 is the busiest portion, averaging 122,000 vehicles per day in 2006.[3] The freeway passes through downtown Sparks via a viaduct over the casino floor of the Nugget Casino Resort. After leaving the Reno metropolitan area, the freeway resumes following the Truckee River in a canyon to Fernley and passes the Northern Nevada Veterans Cemetery to the north. Traffic volumes drop to 26,600 vehicles per day by Fernley and continue dropping to 8,400 by the time the freeway reaches the center of the state.[3] The freeway exits the Truckee River corridor near Wadsworth.[4]

Lahontan Valley/Forty Mile Desert

Dusk view of a freeway descending into a neon lit cityscape.
I-80 descending into Reno from the Sierra Nevada

Past Wadsworth, the freeway cuts across the Lahontan Valley. The Lahontan Valley is a barren desert, sometimes called the Forty Mile Desert, from the era of the California Trail. The name comes from the California Gold Rush where the emigrants who came into the Lahontan Valley via the Humboldt River. The travelers would have then to endure 40 miles (64 km) without usable water while crossing the valley, regardless of which of the two routes across the valley the travelers followed.[5] I-80 closely approximates the path of the emigrants between the Humboldt and Truckee rivers.

A 6-lane freeway passing under a series of underpasses
I-80 in downtown Reno

A marker stands at a rest area on the eastern edge of the valley, near the junction of I-80 and US 95, that honors travelers who suffered crossing the valley, thousands of whom abandoned possessions, animals, and even loved ones in the desert. Per the marker, this portion was the most dreaded portion of the California Trail.[4][5][6] Between eastern Fernley and Winnemucca, the speed limit was raised from 75 to 80 mph (121 to 129 km/h) in 2017.[7]

Humboldt River

I-80 eastbound on the approach to Emigrant Pass

For the next 246 miles (396 km), I-80 follows the Humboldt River.[a][8] Along the way, the freeway passes through the towns of Lovelock, Winnemucca, Battle Mountain, Carlin, Elko, and Wells. At Winnemucca, I-80 is joined by the Feather River Route; I-80 runs parallel to this railroad until the Utah state line.[4]

View east along I-80 from an overpass approaching Carlin Canyon

The freeway is within visual distance of the river for most of this run. However, there are portions where the freeway bypasses bends by cutting across or tunneling under mountains along the canyon walls. Between Winnemucca and Battle Mountain, the freeway bypasses bends via side canyons and Golconda Summit, 5,159 feet (1,572 m).[4] The highway also bypasses Palisade Canyon, between Beowawe and Carlin, via Emigrant Pass, 6,114 feet (1,864 m).[4] Just east of Carlin, I-80 passes through the Carlin Tunnel to bypass curves of the river in the Carlin Canyon (between the Carlin Tunnel and Elko).[9]

Eastern Nevada

gantry sign stating "Exit 410—US-93 Alt—West Wendover—Ely" as a freeway descends into a town with salt flats in the background.
Approaching West Wendover from west

After Wells, I-80 departs the Humboldt River, first transcontinental railroad, and California Trail.[4] From this point east, the freeway follows the routes of the Hastings Cutoff, Feather River Route, former US 40, and SR 1. The freeway cuts across two mountain ranges before arriving at the Great Salt Lake Desert. The first is the Pequop Mountains via Pequop Summit, elevation 6,967 feet (2,124 m)—the highest point on I-80 in Nevada—and the second is the Toano Range via Silver Zone Pass at 5,955 feet (1,815 m). After crossing these mountains, the freeway arrives at West Wendover where the freeway enters both Utah and the Great Salt Lake Desert at the Bonneville Salt Flats.[4]


Portions of I-80 run concurrently with three US Routes in Nevada:[8]


California Trail

State Route 1 shield
SR 1, the first designation for what is now I-80 across Nevada, from c. 1929–1939

The general route of I-80 was first used by California-bound travelers and was called the California Trail. From the Utah state line west to the Humboldt River, I-80 follows a modified routing of a lesser used branch of the trail called Hastings Cutoff. The cutoff rejoins the main route of the trail in the Humboldt River canyon. Through this portion of Nevada, the main route of the California Trail ran north of modern SR 233.

From Elko west to Lovelock, I-80 faithfully follows the California Trail. West of Lovelock, in the middle of the Humboldt Sink, the California Trail again splits into two branches. These branches, the Carson River route and the Truckee River route, are named for the waterways that guide each branch up the Sierra Nevada. I-80 follows the Truckee route, the Carson route is approximated by US 95, US 50, US 395, and SR 88/California State Route 88.[4]

Transcontinental railroads

US 40 shield
Until 1975, the route of I-80 was designated US 40.

The route of modern I-80 was also previously used for the construction of two transcontinental railroads. The first transcontinental railroad, completed in 1869, closely follows the main line of the California Trail and I-80 west of Wells. The Feather River Route was constructed in 1909 and generally follows the Hastings Cutoff through Eastern Nevada. It also runs parallel to I-80 in Nevada east of Winnemucca.[4]


The first paved road across this portion of Nevada was the Victory Highway, designated in Nevada as SR 1. With the formation of the US Numbered Highway System, this route was numbered US 40. From the formation of the Interstate Highway System, the highway was gradually upgraded to Interstate Highway standards and signed as I-80. In 1974, officials in Utah initiated meetings with officials in Nevada and California to truncate the route of US 91. By that time, US 91 was mostly redundant with I-15. Nevada officials agreed and further suggested that both US 91 and US 40 be truncated. Nevada officials recommended the changes occur in 1975, when the last Nevada piece of I-15 was expected to be completed.[10] The 1976 edition of the official highway map for Nevada was the first not showing the US 40 designation.[11] Even though the US Route designation was removed, the freeway was not yet completed.[11] The last piece of I-80 in Nevada to be finished was the Lovelock bypass which started construction in 1981.[12] The 1982 Official Nevada Highway Map was the first to note I-80 as a contiguous freeway across the state. All of the business loops for I-80 in Nevada use the historical route of US 40.

I-80 is also known in Nevada as the Dwight D. Eisenhower Highway after the former president of the same name and the Purple Heart Trail after such military decoration.[11]


There are plans to widen I-80 to three lanes in both directions from Vista Boulevard and Greg Street to SR 439 south (USA Parkway).[13]

Exit list

I-80 west – Sacramento
Continuation into California
1Verdi (I-80 Bus. east)Westbound exit and entrance; former US 40
2.84.52Verdi (I-80 Bus. east to SR 425)No westbound entrance; former US 40
3.25.13VerdiWestbound exit and eastbound entrance
4.87.74Boomtown Garson Road
5.79.25East Verdi (I-80 Bus. west / SR 425 west)Westbound exit and eastbound entrance; former US 40 west
Reno7.712.48West 4th Street (SR 647 east)Eastbound exit and westbound entrance; former US 40 east
9.214.89Robb Drive
10.717.210McCarran Boulevard West (SR 659)Former SR 651
12.520.112Keystone Avenue (I-80 Bus. east)Former SR 657
13.321.413Virginia Street (US 395 Bus.), DowntownServes University of Nevada, Reno; Sierra Street was former SR 660; Virginia Street was former SR 430/US 395
14.122.714Wells AvenueServes Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center
I-580 south / US 395 – Carson City, Susanville
Serves Reno–Tahoe International Airport and Reno-Sparks Convention Center; I-580 exit 36 and US 395 exit 68
Sparks15.424.816Prater Way, East 4th Street (I-80 Bus. / SR 647 west)Former US 40
16.125.917Rock Boulevard (SR 668)Serves Victorian Square; also signed for Nugget Avenue eastbound
16.827.018 SR 445 (Pyramid Way)Serves Victorian Square
17.628.319McCarran Boulevard East (SR 659 to I-80 Bus. west)McCarran Boulevard was former SR 650; Victorian Avenue was former US 40 west
18.930.420Sparks Boulevard
19.731.721Vista Boulevard, Greg Street
28.245.428Patrick (Waltham Way, SR 655 south)
SR 439 south (USA Parkway)
Serves Tahoe Reno Industrial Center; replaced former Tracy, Clark Station exit on January 21, 2008
36.959.436Derby Dam
40.264.740Painted Rock
Wadsworth44.070.843Wadsworth (I-80 Bus. east / SR 427 east)Serves Pyramid Lake; Main Street was former US 40 east
StoreyNo major intersections
LyonFernley46.474.746West Fernley (I-80 Bus. / SR 427)Also signed "To US 95 Alt. south" eastbound; serves Wadsworth and Pyramid Lake; former US 40

US 95 Alt. south (I-80 Bus. west) to US 50 Alt. – East Fernley, Yerington, Fallon, Ely, Las Vegas
Western end of US 95 Alt. concurrency; former US 40 west/US 95 south
50.180.650Nevada Pacific ParkwayOpened on June 19, 2009
Churchill65.2104.965Nightingale Hot Springs
US 95 south (Veterans Memorial Highway) – Fallon, Las Vegas
Eastern end of US 95 Alt. concurrency; western end of US 95 concurrency
PershingToulon93.5150.593ToulonServes Derby Field
Lovelock105.5169.8105West Lovelock (I-80 Bus. east / SR 396 north)Eastbound exit and westbound entrance; former US 40 east/US 95 north
106.4171.2106Downtown Lovelock (SR 398 north)
107.2172.5107East Lovelock (I-80 Bus. west / SR 856)Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
112.9181.7112Coal Canyon (SR 396 south)Former US 40 west/US 95 south
Oreana120.2193.4119Oreana, RochesterFormer SR 858 east
129.6208.6129Rye Patch Dam (SR 401 west)
Mill City150.3241.9149
SR 400 south (Unionville Road) – Mill City, Unionville
152.1244.8151Mill City, Dun GlenNo westbound entrance
HumboldtRose Creek168.4271.0168Rose Creek
Winnemucca173.4279.1173West Winnemucca BoulevardServes Winnemucca Municipal Airport; former US 40 east
US 95 north (Veterans Memorial Highway / I-80 Bus. east) – Winnemucca Downtown West, McDermitt, Boise
Eastern end of US 95 concurrency; former US 40
179.0288.1178 SR 289 – Winnemucca Downtown East
SR 794 west (East Winnemucca Boulevard / I-80 Bus. west)
East Winnemucca Boulevard was former US 40 west
Button Point187.7302.1187Button Point
Golconda194.5313.0194Golconda, Midas (SR 789 north)
200.5322.7200Golconda Summit
204.1328.5203Iron Point
205.6330.9205Pumpernickel Valley
Stone House212.5342.0212Stone House
LanderBattle Mountain230.2370.5229
SR 304 east (I-80 Bus. east) – West Battle Mountain
Front Street was former US 40 east
231.7372.9231 SR 305 (Broad Street) – Downtown Battle Mountain, Austin
SR 304 west (I-80 Bus. west) – East Battle Mountain
Front Street was former US 40 west; serves Battle Mountain Airport
SR 306 south – Beowawe, Crescent Valley, Austin
269.2433.2268Emigrant Pass
SR 278 south (I-80 Bus. east / to SR 221) – West Carlin, Eureka
Chestnut Street was former US 40 east
281.4452.9280 SR 766 – Central Carlin
SR 221 west (I-80 Bus. west) – East Carlin
Elko299.2481.5298Elko West (I-80 Bus. east / SR 535 east)Former US 40 east
301.9485.9301 SR 225 (Mountain City Highway) – Elko Downtown
304.4489.9303Elko East (I-80 Bus. west )
Osino311.5501.3310OsinoIdaho Street was former US 40 west
Ryndon315.5507.7314Ryndon, Devils GateCR 742
317.7511.3317Elburz, Devils GateCR 745
SR 229 east (Halleck and Secret Pass Road) – Halleck, Ruby Valley
329.0529.5328River Ranch
Deeth334.5538.3333Deeth, Starr Valley (SR 230 east)Former US 40 east
Welcome344.4554.3343Welcome, Starr Valley (SR 230 west)Former US 40 west
Beverly Hills348.2560.4348Beverly Hills
Wells351.6565.8351West Wells (I-80 Bus. east / SR 223 east / SR 231 south)Former US 40 east
352.5567.3352A US 93 – East Wells, Ely, JackpotWestern end of US 93 Alt. concurrency; signed as exit 352 eastbound
352BEast Wells (I-80 Bus. west / 6th Street)Westbound exit only; former US 40 west
Independence Valley365.9588.9365Independence Valley
Pequop Summit373.8601.6373Pequop Summit
SR 233 east (Montello Road) – Oasis, Montello
388.1624.6387ShafterCR 789
399.2642.5398Pilot PeakCR 767
West Wendover407.2655.3407Ola

US 93 Alt. south (I-80 Bus. east) – West Wendover, Ely
Eastern end of US 93 Alt. concurrency
I-80 east – Salt Lake City
Continuation into Utah
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also

Business loops
spur routes (as SR 1)


  1. ^ Using distance between Lovelock and Wells.


  1. ^ "Table 1: Main Routes of the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System Of Interstate and Defense Highways". FHWA Route Log and Finder List. Federal Highway Administration. December 31, 2021. Retrieved June 10, 2022.
  2. ^ Weingroff, Richard F. "Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956: Creating the Interstate System". Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
  3. ^ a b "2006 Annual Traffic Report". Nevada Department of Transportation. Retrieved October 19, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Nevada Road and Recreation Atlas (Map). 1:250000. Benchmark Maps. 2003. p. 47. ISBN 0-929591-81-X.
  5. ^ a b "Forty Mile Desert". Nevada State Historic Preservation Office. Retrieved October 19, 2019.
  6. ^ Brock, Dick. "Photos and transcription of markers along the Forty Mile Desert, placed by the Oregon/California Trails Association". Trails West Inc. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  7. ^ "Nevada joins handful of states with spans of 80 mph driving". Vancouver Sun. Archived from the original on September 13, 2017. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  8. ^ a b c 2019–2020 Official Highway Map (Map). Nevada Department of Transportation. 2019. Retrieved October 19, 2019.
  9. ^ Turner, Dan. "Carlin Canyon, Elko County, Nevada". Elko Rose Garden Association. Archived from the original on May 18, 2014. Retrieved January 26, 2013.
  10. ^ "Highway Resolution route 91". Utah Department of Transportation. Retrieved March 8, 2008.
  11. ^ a b c "Historical Maps". Nevada Department of Transportation. Retrieved January 26, 2013.
  12. ^ "NDOT News Spring 2006" (PDF). Nevada Department of Transportation. 2006. Retrieved January 26, 2013.
  13. ^ "Capital Transportation Improvement Projects". Nevada Department of Transportation. Retrieved February 14, 2021.

External links

Interstate 80
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