The Steepest Highway in Nevada Is a Terrifyingly Treacherous Path

Written by Rob Amend
Updated: November 3, 2023
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Key Points

  • A highway grade is determined by the number of vertical units for every 100 horizontal units expressed as a percentage.
  • State Route 342 is the steepest highway in Nevada.
  • It has a 15% grade, meaning the road rises 15 units of measurement for every 100 horizontally traveled.
  • Trucks are no longer permitted on NV 342 and must take the newly constructed NV 341.

Nevada makes up part of the Great Basin, a geological feature of the western U.S. that funnels water to its interior. Technically, this is not one large basin but a series of basins scattered throughout the north/south mountain ranges. These mountain ranges make Nevada the most mountainous state in the nation. Because of this, Nevada has several steep roads, but what is the steepest highway in Nevada?

Greiner's Bend Nevada 342

Greiner’s Bend on Nevada 342.

©Davemeistermoab / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

What Is the Steepest Highway in Nevada?

The steepest highway in Nevada is State Route 342. NV 342 connects Virginia City and Silver City in the Virginia Mountains of Nevada. The steepest part of this road is a 15% grade between Virginia City and Gold Hill. This stretch encompasses an incredibly steep and winding portion known as Greiner’s Bend. The cautionary speed limit through these bends is 15 MPH, and even that may seem too fast! NV 342 is the shortest route between Virginia City and Silver City. Route 341 is the longer option.

Nevada 342

Nevada 342 includes the steepest grade in Nevada.

©Famartin / CC BY-SA 4.0 – License

Where Is NV 342?

Route 342 is about 7 miles northeast of Carson City, NV, and about 10 miles southeast of Reno. It rises into the Virginia Range of mountains, which crosses Storey and Lyon Counties.

Why Is There a Longer Alternative to NV 342?

Though NV 342 is the shorter route between Silver City and Virginia City, the switchback at Greiner’s Bend and the 15% grade make it dangerous for trucks. In response, Nevada built State Route 341, which spreads the ascent over a longer distance. NV 342 is now off-limit to trucks, which must take a longer route to get from one city to the other.

What Animals Live Near NV 342?

The official state animal, the desert bighorn sheep, was once spread throughout this region. They were extirpated from Nevada for a time but have been recently re-introduced. They are primarily in eastern Nevada but are beginning to be spotted in the western portions of the state, including the area of Route 342.

Desert bighorn sheep

The desert

bighorn sheep

is the official state animal of Nevada.


Other animals in the area include mammals such as the black-tailed jackrabbit, coyote, mule deer, and the North American porcupine. Predators include the mountain lion, bobcat, North American black bear, and gray fox. The golden eagle, red-tailed hawk, and osprey patrol the skies. The local bird population includes the lesser goldfinch, California scrub-jay, and the mountain chickadee. You may also find reptiles like the desert horned lizard, gopher snake, coachwhip, yellow-backed spiny lizard, and the western rattlesnake.

What Are Some Other Steep Grades in Nevada?

Due to its mountainous nature, Nevada has plenty of other steep grades, though none as steep as that along Greiner’s Bend. Below is a table with some of the more notable examples.

NameLocationHighway NameShort Term Grade
Kingsbury GradeDaggett PassNV 2078.4%
Geiger GradeVirginia CityNV 3415-6%
Lida RoadLida SummitNV 2667-8%
Gabbs Valley RoadCalvada SummitNV 3615-7%

The photo featured at the top of this post is ©

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About the Author

Rob Amend is a writer at A-Z Animals, primarily covering meteorology, geology, geography, and animal oddities. He attained a Master's Degree in Library Science in 2000 and served as reference librarian in an urban public library for 22 years. Rob lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and enjoys spending time with his family, hiking, photography, woodworking, listening to classic rock, and watching classic films—his favorite animal is a six-foot-tall rabbit named Harvey.

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