Whichever direction your travels take you, you're going to have a similar experience to what the California-bound emigrants had. You're going to see the same country, except for the towns and the ranch meadows. The big difference, though, is that you'll be traveling at a much faster pace. From here, you can be in California in a few hours. For the emigrants, it was as much as a month's journey. As you drive and look back at the country, think about those people who plodded along day after day through the thick alkali dust and sand—headed toward dreams of gold or a new life.
The California Trail had its beginnings at several points along the Missouri River, and included several variant routes across the Great Basin and over the Sierra Nevada mountains into California. With the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, most travelers made the journey by rail.
There are many California Trail sites like this one, spread across Nevada. They're marked on this map.
As you stop at these sites, you'll learn more about what happened to these emigrants as they traveled across the Great Basin. Be sure to visit the California Trail Interpretive Center just west of Elko, Nevada.