The feeling of fierceness grows upon you as you come to know the desert better. The sunshafts are falling in a burning shower upon rock and dune, the winds blowing with the breath of far off fires. The life on the desert is particularly savage. Everything is at war with its neighbor, and the conflict is unceasing.The Desert, John C. Van Dyke, 1901
The stretch between Nipton and Searchlight stretches into the McCullough Mountain range, between two large land forms that hug an area inhabited only by powerlines and one accompanying road, aptly named Powerline Road.
This portion of Nevada State Route 164 separates the locations to the north – such as Primm Pass and Dead Wind Cavern from the locations to the south – such as Matthew’s Animal Husbandry Farm and surrounding places. In the game, it closely resembles the road that passes by Ranger Station Charlie and accurately ends by joining Highway 95 near HELIOS One.
# 155 – Primm Pass
# 156 – Harper’s shack
# 157 – Dead Wind cavern
# 158 – Ranger station Charlie
# 308 – Nevada State Route 164
# 308 – Nevada State Route 164 – The highway between Nipton and Searchlight is formally called Nevada State Route 164, but colloquially named Nipton Road and then turns into Joshua Tree Highway.
You can see the same general curve in NV-164 in real life, with the game’s being more pronounced, yet maintaining enough similarity. My excellent artistic rendition merely shows the curve in purple, continuation of NV-164 to Searchlight in blue, and Powerline Road in lime green.
Here is a picture of the NV-164 curve in real life, from a distance.
And as an aside, the Joshua trees are considered an “indicator species” which means they only grow in the Mojave Desert, and you can tell you are in the Mojave by spotting these trees. They kind of look like humans out of the corner of your eye until you get used to them.
From here, in game, you can head to Searchlight or Novac. I like the detail that Searchlight was obviously pre-War and Novac post-War, just by the signage. Very cool.
# 158 – Ranger station Charlie – Even though Ranger Station Charlie does not exist in real life, the road in which it is situated upon does. In our world, the road cuts through the vast open space between peaks in the McCullough range, following Powerline Road. If you are eastbound on NV-164 heading out of Nipton, you will clock almost exactly 4 miles from the state line and take a left. About 1.5 miles past that turn is another left hand turn that heads towards the road, but it is really treacherous. In either case, this is some wild off-roading that, in my opinion, you need a 4×4 and high clearance vehicle to accomplish safely.
In the game location, you can see the same massive powerlines following a fairly narrow pass, opening to a larger, less elevated area. So even though we do not see the same constructs, it is fun to see where it would have been.
In our world, Powerline Road continues and you can follow it all the way to the back of Nevada Solar One, by the massive substation. Coming the other way, you can see signs that tell you to get lost, but you could feasible feign ignorance since no such signs appear when you are heading from the other side.
In the game, if you follow the powerlines, they stop abruptly at the top of the mountain range and do not continue towards Primm, not even in derelict form.
# 155 – Primm Pass – In the game, this place serves as a “skip Nipton” option, emerging from the Emergency Service Railyard, winding to Novac from Primm. I tried to recreate this, starting at Higgins Generating Station or First Solar Electric and looking to see how I could head east.
There is a pass of sorts there, but it dead ends before the main McCullough range begins. Most likely this equates to McCullough Pass itself, despite being located on the northern end of the range.
You can head from Jean for some smooth sailing until the pass, or go through a smaller pass first, called Beer Bottle Pass. In any case, this pass is a bumpy, wild ride that needs a designated OHV to make it through. The end spits you out behind Nevada Solar One, on the same road as Ranger Station Charlie.
# 156 – Harper’s shack – Geographically, this location aligns with a place southwest of the pass called McCullough Spring. It has a water trough, old fence and gate that looks to be in good shape, but it is abandoned. This specific shack below looked the most like the in game location, even though it was situated a little bit more west in real life. It looks spot on, though!
# 157 – Dead Wind cavern – Not in name, but in appearance, there are a few quasi-cavern mine shafts in the area that really look similar to Dead Wind Cavern – at least the entrance. They seem to be prospects, or in other words, they do not go any deeper than a short distance.
I noticed when combing the area in-game, there are many bignorners milling about. I think this may be a reference to the Highland Range Crucial Bighorn Habitat Area, which is located in the same region. In my game, they helped me kill a bunch of legionaries. Thanks dudes!