The Virginia City Scenic Drive that we took to Virginia City last Sunday was undeniably scenic. So scenic, in fact, that I sort of experienced an environment shock as we drove up and over the mountains overlooking layers and layers of pine-studded peaks intermittent with miles and miles of sun-scorched lifeless terrain.

Reno

Nevada

Nevada's mountainous landscape

Reno, NV

Images of Nevada

The austere Alpine-like grandeur and the scarcity of the desert landscape . . .

The double-sided beauty of Nevada . . .  

At bird’s-eye elevations, it overwhelms. It disorients. It crushes you down.

There’s so much of it that your eyes can’t simply take it all in. You stand dazzled trying to soak up the boundless. But it ain’t gonna happen. There’s waaayyy too much of it up there.

Beautiful Nevada

I reached for my camera.

I probably snapped a couple dozen pictures in under one minute—hungry to get every inch of this beauty. But it felt like shooting blanks.

You have to be there.

I looked up and thought how lucky I was to be able to see this. I felt so grateful.

Places to See in Reno

Mount Rose, NV

Interstate 580

Nevada artifacts

Interstate 580

the Washoe Valley, NV

Nevada Mountains

I love Nevada!

The Virginia City Scenic Drive is not for the weak-hearted. This curvy mountain route steeply takes you up to Geiger Summit, which has an elevation of 6789 feet and is the highest point of the drive. If you are not afraid of heights and can close your eyes to numerous traffic signs warning you of falling rock, upcoming twists and turns, as well as a possibility of wildlife jumping out from nowhere, you will be rewarded with most stunning views of Reno, the Washoe Valley and the Sierras.

The descent is not as bad and takes you by an array of old mines.

Scenic Drive to Virfinia City

If you are afraid to drive, maybe you don’t mind flying? As you drive up, think more like you are flying one of those low-gliding twin-engine turboprop planes that take you over and into the Grand Canyon on a sightseeing tour. This is how you start to feel anyway when you are on a par with the clouds.

Scenic Road to Virginia City

You get the idea. It’s all about the mindset.

Yet, there are a lot of cars zooming by, stopping by. . .  Life doesn’t stop at any altitude.

It was eerily quiet in our car as Kevin was crawling up the mountain at a speed of a bare 20 mph, pulling over every thousand feet to ask if we were sure we wanted to go on with this.

Virginia City Scenic Drive

mountain driving survival tips

how to drive in the mountains

Nevada Dirt Roads

I nodded every time—my heart in my heels, as we say in Russia—hiding behind the viewfinder of my camera like it was going to shrink my subject and, as a deduction, my fear. Whenever we approached a sharp corner, I would find myself puffing like a pregnant woman in a delivery room, and then taking in a deep whiff after he turned it. Safely.  

Patterned breathing helps too, by the way.

Nicole was the bravest, narrating what she saw from the back  seat, counting, and eventually losing count of how many times we went up and downhill.

Long story short, we made it to Virginia City and back.