Although it looks pretty interesting after hours of uninterrupted basin-and-range driving, there's not much to this mid-19th-century boomtown – really, just a few frontier churches and atmospherically decrepit buildings along the short main street. What most people come to Austin for is to play outdoors.
Eureka! In the late 19th century, $40 million worth of silver was extracted from the hills around Eureka. Pride of place goes to the county courthouse, with its handsome pressed-tin ceilings and walk-in vaults, and the beautifully restored opera house, also dating from 1880, which hosts an art gallery and summer folk-music concerts.
Great Basin National Park
Near the Nevada–Utah border, this uncrowded national park encompasses 13,063ft Wheeler Peak, rising abruptly from the desert, creating an awesome range of life zones and landscapes within a very compact area. The peak's narrow, twisting scenic drive is open only during summer, usually from June through October.
Sand Mountain Recreation Area
About 25 miles southeast of Fallon off US Hwy 50, this recreation area boasts sand dunes that 'sing,' occasionally producing a low-pitched boom. The best time to hear it is on a hot, dry evening when the dunes are not covered with screeching off-road vehicles and whooping sandboarders. Pony Express station ruins have been excavated at the small Sand Springs Desert Study Area.
Midway between Fallon and Austin, there's a historical marker on the south side of the highway. There a windswept 1½-mile walking path leads to the haunting ruins of Cold Springs Pony Express Station, built in 1860 but quickly replaced by a stagecoach stop and then the transcontinental telegraph line.