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Nevada Backcountry Discovery Route (Jul 2020)

Nevada's BDR is known to be a bit different than some of the others. Most interesting is the temperature differential between the northern and southern ends of the route - even as the north is still covered in snow, temps in the south reach over 100°F. For that reason, a lot of travelers split the trip into two - doing the southern route in winter or early spring and the northern bit come summer.

But not us; we're not that smart. Well no, that's not it exactly - it's just that the time we had to do the trip happened to mean we'd be doing it all in one shot. And we'd be doing it from north-to-south, just because we thought that'd be logistically easier.

At least, that was the plan.


Jarbige to Elko - We Wouldn't Have Made It - NVBDR 1 Jarbidge to Elko - We Wouldn't Have Made It | NVBDR #1 - Introduction It seems that every year for the last several years, we've run a BDR - a Backcountry Discovery Route - during the summer. This year, as we were in the middle of our adventure, I wondered aloud to @mrs.turbodb - "How'd we get started with these anyway?" A bit of pondering and theorizing and we determined that it was really just dumb luck. Well, not luck so much as misfortune. See, back in 2017, we'd gone camping with my Dad and Uncle down to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. Actually, it was the same trip where we'd…
Elko to Austin - Retracing the Pony Express - NVBDR 2 Elko to Austin - Retracing the Pony Express | NVBDR #2 - Stage 5 - Elko to Austin It was just after 5:00pm as we rolled out of Elko after fueling up. This, technically, had been the end of our first stage - but with several hours of daylight left and dirt roads calling our name, we felt no need to call end our adventure early! On that note - something @mrs.turbodb and I find interesting about the Backcountry Discovery Route (BDR) stages is that they all start and end in towns. This - to me - doesn't make any sense. I mean sure, it's easier to map from one town to…
Austin to Tonopah - A Ridge, a Ghost Town, and a Rocket - NVBDR 3 Austin to Tonopah - A Ridge, a Ghost Town, and a Rocket | NVBDR #3 - Stage 4 - Austin to Tonopah. Our fuel tank once again topped off, we immediately climbed out of Austin and into the mountains to the south. We didn't have far to go though - just outside this historic little town is a the craziest little castle tower - Stokes Castle. Built on the mountainside overlooking the Reese River Valley, the three-story castle was built in 1897 by Anton Stokes - a wealthy mine owner and builder of the Nevada Central Railway. Constructed of native granite slabs, it was made to resemble a villa that Stokes had admired outside of Rome.…
Tonopah to Gold Point - The Day We Called the Cops - NVBDR 4 Tonopah to Gold Point - The Day We Called the Cops | NVBDR #4 - Stage 3 - Tonopah to Gold Point As we exited Tonopah, @mrs.turbodb and I were more than a little curious about the route we'd take to Goldfield. We've driven the 27 mile stretch of US-95 more than a few times on our trips down and back from Death Valley and it just doesn't seem like there's much out there in the way of dirt roads and alternate routes. And as it turns out, we were right! For the first 10 miles or so, we simply travelled the old (but still paved) US-95 that apparently works its way south just to…
Gold Point to Pahrump - Two Naked Ladies and a Penguin - NVBDR 5 Gold Point to Pahrump - Two Naked Ladies and a Penguin | NVBDR #5 - Stage 2 - Gold Point to Pahrump As you may recall from the previous story, we left off in Gold Point - so far, our favorite sort-of-ghost-town of the trip, and I promised two naked ladies and a penguin in the desert. I should warn you now - I probably oversold it. But anyway, let's get started. A little before 11:00am, we pulled out of Gold Point, excited for the next segment of our adventure, and happy to be back in the truck and out of the already 94°F heat that was getting oppressive in the desert. In the distance,…
Pahrump to Oatman - Petroglyphs and Our First Ever 4-Stamp Mill - NVBDR 6 Pahrump to Oatman - Petroglyphs and Our First Ever 4-Stamp Mill | NVBDR #6 - Stage 1 - Pahrump to Oatman Like many of the medium-sized towns along the NVBDR, Pahrump has - I assume - grown since the route was created. As such, some of the roads that were once dirt have been paved, and we found ourselves on pavement for longer than we expected as we made our way south out of town, passing cross streets and developments that weren't even on our map. Eventually though we reached dirt, and thus began one of the least enjoyable segments of the entire BDR. (How's that for a glowing endorsement for the area south of…
Rig Review: Summer 2020 - What worked and what didn't? Rig Review: Summer 2020 - What worked and what didn't? - August 29, 2020. Well, it's been a while since a rig review - things have been working reasonably well; a nice side effect of constantly evaluating and tweaking the setup of the truck to dial it in. Since last time, we've completed the following trips: Nevada Backcountry Discovery Route Bridge-to-Bridge in the Middle of Nowhere Dead Ends through WA, ID, and MT Roaming Around Rainier So, lets dive right in. Seemingly solved from previous Rig Reviews Relentless Skid Plate Attachment Cooper ST/Maxx Tires It's Noisy in the Cab The Air Conditioning Doesn't Work Unchanged / Still an issue from previous…


More BDRs!




  1. Ray
    Ray August 21, 2021

    I really enjoy your travel logs, and since you've driven the BDRs, I thought you might be able to answer a question: is is possible to for a Jeep TJ to tow a teardrop trailer over the NVBDR and the WABDR? I saw signs pointing to a 20% grade in NV, and because my Jeep has been highly modified for rock climbing, its towing capacity is shameful. Even on highways I have to pull in behind 18-wheelers on minor uphill grades. I intend to drive the NVBDR in September and have decided to tent camp rather than risk getting stuck with my TD, but despite all my research, I cannot determine if my concerns are valid or not.

    Thanks, Ray

    • turbodb
      turbodb August 21, 2021

      Hey Ray,

      I'd say that WA is certainly trailerable, assuming you feel like the trailer is "stout" enough to handle the bumps. Not being a trailer guy, I'm not sure if a teardrop fits that bill, so you'd need to make that call. There are a few steep areas where you'd surely be in 4Lo, and you might want to route around the washout at Beehive Reservoir near Wenatchee (there's a bypass that will take you through Leavenworth), but that's about it, I'd say.

      Nevada is also probably trailerable. There are a few more bumpy sections and some narrower stuff that the TJ would handle easily, but that may make trailering more difficult. However, the BDR GPS files have alternate routes for those sections, so if you stuck to the easier bypasses, you'd have no trouble at all (as I recall).

      Of course, both of those assume reasonable weather and no snow on the ground. September will be a great time for the NVBDR, and if you're tent camping that, you'll have a good sense for the WABDR later. As in, if you get through the Nevada route and feel like the trailer would have been OK, then you can be sure that you'll be fine on WA.

      Hope that helps! -Dan

      • Ray
        Ray August 21, 2021

        Hi Dan,

        It does help. Since the NVDBR is basically a motorcycle trail, it's hard to find people that have driven it in a 4x4. The TD is made for off-road. I've towed it to Inuvik, CA, across the entire Great Western Trail in Arizona (I wrote the book), and beyond. You can see a pic of it at my website by clicking on the icon: Arizona's East-West Trail: A Backcountry Challenge.
        I was never concerned about the bumps or pin-srtiping, just the 20% grades over the 9,000' passes (I saw the sign with the truck in an almost vertical position). It's all relative through. Since there appears to be only one road from Jarbidge to Elko, I presume the locals have towed trailers over it for years.

        I think I'll travel with the TD. Thanks for your input. Let me know if you ever decide to drive the GWT.


  2. turbodb
    turbodb August 21, 2021

    Yeah, it's hard to find trip reports sometimes, but I've found - in general - that all of the BDRs are drivable in 4WD in addition to motorcycles. For the TD - that's cool, I know there are different builds of those, and many of the ones pulled by say a VW Beetle may not be the best on trails. I should have assumed that with a built TJ, yours would be fine, LOL.

    For NVBDR - you aren't going to have any trouble from Jarbidge to Elko; trailer will do just fine there. I just went back and looked at the routes. There's an "alt" route in stage 5 that I wouldn't take the trailer on (named Telegraph Peak I think), and then the "alt" route on stage 6 (Wildhorse Mountain) didn't actually go through due to rivers and washouts - we had to reroute that section ourselves.

    Given that, you'll be 100% good with the trailer.

    And I'll check out the GWT. I feel like I may have heard of it before, and I'm sure I'll want to run it at some point! ?

    • Ray
      Ray August 22, 2021

      Hi, just noticed your reply. Thank you for reviewing the trail for me. I had already canceled the alt routes and added a few detours to get out of the desert heat, and to avoid some of the negative changes civilization made on the landscape in the southern sections.

      I'm pleased that I can take the TD. It sure makes "camping" more comfortable. I travel everywhere with it, and when I'm just crossing the country, it's safe to camp in it overnight in a Walmart's lot.

      The GWT is "make-believe." The real GWT runs e-w and was a cattle route in the 1800s. This `runs from Mexico to Canada and was developed by a few people in the 70s-80s. AZ is the only state in which you can drive it in it's entirety in a 4x4. I wrote the Wiki, but haven't updated it. A free trailer of the DVD is on YouTube: This covers only the section from Phoenix to Utah. The section from PHX to Mexico is only in the book.

      The guy I traveled with in the latter section of the video, and whose TD and Jeep were covered n as much mud as mine, was so angry about the mess he never spoke to me again. Only two windows to travel the trail in AZ: spring and fall (if there aren't any monsoons).

      Time to repack the bearings on the TD and to pack for the trip. Looking forward to it.


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