Bureau of Land Management, Utah.
The Hastings Cutoff route was used from 1846 to 1850 by pioneers and gold rushers attempting to save 300 miles off the normal route to California via Idaho. This route was first pioneered by the Fremont expedition in 1845 and promoted a year later by the ambitious Lansford W. Hastings as a shorter route to the Humboldt River in Nevada. However, the Hastings Cutoff involved a perilous 90-mile waterless trek across the Great Salt Lake Desert sand dunes and mud flats in mid-summer heat with heavy wagons. Donner-Reed Pass is located on the last 10 miles of this arduous crossing before reaching fresh water at Donner Spring. In this area, many emigrant parties lost valuable livestock and wagons to the punishing desert heat. This was the last agonizing stretch for emigrants crossing the Great Salt Lake Desert.
Take Interstate 80 to Exit 4 for the Bonneville Salt Flats. Drive north on the Silver Island Mountain Backcountry Byway for 25 miles.