I travel up 6 mile Canyon (AKA State Route 79) from the Dayton Valley to Virginia City Nevada at least six times every week and every week I discover something new. I can tell you it is only scheduled to close one time every year, during the Virginia City Grand Prix. During the rest of the time I see things that make me laugh or chuckle or something that makes me say “Ha, that’s odd”. So today I spotted a couple of people alongside the road, which makes you look and say to yourself “what are they doing?” - you know you’ve done it. Now mostly it’s a very beautiful canyon, especially in the fall when the leaves start to turn, it is a very windy canyon, but also it’s scenic. It has, what people would describe as a river, but trust me you do not want to go on that river… it has sheer cliffs, it has large boulders, it has effluent water, twigs and various creepy crawly things. The Canyon has dirt roads extruding from it that go to ponds and restricted mines, it’s all very mysterious. The canyon is pretty when it’s in full bloom during the summer. The fall colors are gorgeous because of the aspens, the native trees and shrubbery that live in the canyon. I truly believe everything about it is fantastic. So, right now in the canyon during Mid-February there is still three or more feet of snow on the ground and granted the road department did do a nice job of cutting out the edges of the road, it is only a 2-Lane Road. One lane going up and one lane going down! It feels skinny, you will like the twisties but beware - it has potholes, and there is only one paved turn out in the entire 6 mile stretch. But today I spotted a car with a couple, who had parked on the side the road to paint. They have their painting easels up and they were looking at a random hillside just painting it. It’s just not a common thing to see in Six Mile Canyon but it is what made me stop and think to write about my journey today.
Because I want to describe Six Mile Canyon, a little bit more in detail, let me say that Seven Mile Canyon comes out about halfway up the Canyon. People like to go four wheeling at Seven Mile Canyon Road. They take their side by sides up very rocky and steep cliff mountain sides that top out in Virginia City. There are mines along the way, and of course you’re always warned about going into the mines, unless you carry the random cage filled with tweety birds in your 4x4. There are rocks and water always going across the dirt roads. It is Mucker Land. On the main road, it depends on who is overseeing the Story County Road department, which will depend on how clear and clean 6 mile canyon is during the winter. It’s not that great of a winter road, because the Road Department’s attention is focused on other parts of town. But absolutely a dream in the summer, as long as they get the dirt and rocks off the road. It’s definitely secondary or thirdly to all other passes that get you to Virginia City. A lot of drunk people come down it and end up crashing, that’s usually when they close the road down. It’s great on a motorcycle. It’s my practice for the twisties! I am always thinking to myself, “Am I going to be in the number one position, or in the middle position or on the far right position?” So I pick a position all the way through the curve. I use it as my time to think, to learn about my motorcycle and how it reacts to me, and I just kind of let the road teach me how to avoid obstacles because there’s definitely potholes in the road. I am learning how to corner, learning how to dip and sway, learning a lot of motorcycle skills and I think that 6 mile canyon is the best road to do that on.
Six Mile is also a dirty gut wrenching…… What am I trying to say…… a canyon you do not want to go off the edge on. There are no landscaped edges, no road crews to tidy it up. It’s very natural. It’s very… left alone. Nobody maintains the side ruts. It can be very dismal looking in the winter time the trees are barren and leafless .
Six Mile Canyon is also home to Sugarloaf Mountain it’s a very unique mountain. It looks like the upside down plug of a volcano that was spit out from many miles away and hundreds of thousands of years ago and landed in the best spot for them to carve a road around it. I’m sure it all happened 1 billion years ago. It’s probably about the same times the canyon was created, but it is extremely rocky and looks like it could come crashing down at any moment. I don’t even know if it’s climbable because the rocks are so loose on it. When you get to the top of 6 mile canyon and you’re looking down the canyon you are very thankful the road was so forgiving, because sometimes it is not.
If you’re in Virginia City and you’re looking to the east down through the canyon, they call it the hundred mile view because you can see down the canyon -across Dayton Valley - over many mountain ranges to the Mt. Augusta range near Middlegate, Nevada. It is definitely a gorgeous sight on a clear beautiful Nevada day, which, in my opinion, is 362 days of the year.
Then, after heading up the canyon from Highway 50 and you’re at the first stop sign the road turns into Mill Street of Virginia City. And like most towns, Mill Street is better maintained by the County Road Department. The only thing I don’t like about Mill Street and having to turn on C Street is right when you come to the very tippedy top of C Street you’re on a 45° angle and you have a stop sign! It seems so many motorcycles stop and have the desperate time of going again on such a hillside. There was this one time, somebody got to the top of the stop sign and he had a passenger on the back, maybe the girl was “all women” and a little to large for bike, but that poor guy continued to stall out and the passenger wasn’t budging. Luckily his group of friends came to his rescue. They all pulled over on the side and they helped him hold the bike up while him and his girlfriend got off the bike and he walked the bike to the top of the street. So, just a suggestion, if you are in a group or it’s a busy day. Think about turning on D Street, either left or right and taking the hump to C street one at at time.
Let me just say, that what to wear when you ride on 6 Mile will depend on the time of year. Remember that Virginia City is about 10 degrees colder than the valley. Six Mile Canyon is not a canyon that you want to ride in the winter time but the summertime is an amazing ride. Let me count the curves…….Over the river.. Don’t forget the hairpin, then there’s a steep grade toward the top. There’s a lot of wonderful riding experiences on Six Mile Canyon that motorcycles feel they can go faster than cars. Average speed is about 40 mph for any vehicle on the road the posted speed limit is 35 mph. On your bike, you could probably do it about 55/60 if you’re more experience than I am. My brother makes it up and down so quickly that when we stop I’ve asked him, “How did you go so fast on the road?” He says “I don’t go fast. I’m doing the same speed that you’re doing, I just don’t slow down in the corners.” And it all comes right around to what you need to wear when you’re on your motorcycle riding up and down 6 Mile Canyon headed to or from Virginia City. Of course, we want you to wear Virginia City Motorcycle Company apparel and motorcycle gear, but in the end, wear what you want and Visit Virginia City.