Great Basin National Park

Great Basin030Great Basin019At the end of the Nevada section of Hwy 50 is the Great Basin National Park, a national park that we had never heard of before we began our drive on the Loneliest Highway in America. We love the national parks, and visiting new ones is always fun.Great Basin012

Great Basin027The Great Basin is comprised of multiple basins, from the Sierra Nevadas on the West to Utah’s Wasatch Mountains on the east, with lots of mountain ranges and few rivers. These narrow basins surrounded by mountains offer no outlet to the sea for their streams and rivers. So the water in its shallow salt lakes, marshes and mud flats evaporates.

Great Basin023Great Basin016Great Basin National Park was created in 1986 and includes much of South Snake Range, a desert mountain island surrounded by desert. This and other mountain islands support species of plants and animals that can only survive on the tall, cool mountains. At these higher altitudes there is lots of diversity – streams, lakes, and wildlife.Great Basin001Great Basin013

There are five campgrounds in the national park, one that accommodates big rigs. But we chose to stay at Sacramento Pass Recreation Area, a free BLM campground. It was just off the road but quite nice. There is an equestrian campground with even lovelier views on the upper level but there was one trailer there, so we chose to be on our own on the lower level. Read my review of the campground here.Great Basin009

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Great Basin015Great Basin National Park is really remote and so gets fewer visitors as more well-known national parks. So it is a much “quieter” park.

Its tallest mountain, Wheeler Peak, 13,063 feet high supports bristlecone pines as old as 2,000 to 3,000 years old.Great Basin021

Great Basin020There is a road to the top of Wheeler Peak, but it was closed halfway up, and many trails were closed as well due to snow. We were there a bit early in the season.Great Basin031Great Basin024

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Great Basin038Great Basin035A special feature of the park is the Lehman Caves, a limestone cavern that extends a quarter mile underneath the base of the Snake Range.Great Basin041

Great Basin040We signed up for a ranger-led tour of the cavern, which has lots of beautiful features. The one requirement to tour the cavern is that anyone that has visited another cave needs to wear different clothing than they wore then, or make sure that articles worn or carried into the previous cave were laundered.Great Basin042Great Basin043

This is in order to try and stop the spread of white-nose syndrome which has killed millions of bats beginning in upstate New York and now spreading to Missouri. One common denominator has been people going from one cave to another. I just love bats and was hoping to see some on our tour, but we didn’t see any.Great Basin046basin040

The cave is best known for a having many shields, a particular feature where circular plates are connected in a way that looks a bit like a clam shell. Very cool.

There were six of us in our tour group which was nice, but the ranger mentioned that in summer the groups can be as large as twenty. I most definitely recommend the tour.

Great Basin034We also hiked one of the lower shorter trails in Pole Canyon.Great Basin053

The wildflowers were beginning to come out, but we did not see much wildlife other than marmot and wild turkey.

Nevada Fence Art

Nevada Fence Art

On the road leading into the park there were some fun “Nevada Fence Art” pieces on the posts along the fence line. This “Post-Impression Art” was started by a partially paralyzed gentleman who placed concrete filled rubber gloves on top of some posts and called them “The Permanent Wave Society”. Great Basin060

Wheeler Peak

Wheeler Peak

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Rolling Springs

Rolling Springs

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Great Basin018Great Basin064Great Basin070Great Basin National Park is yet another beautiful national park.  And yet another interesting destination on the supposedly empty loneliest highway.

~BrendaGreat Basin014

 

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  1. I have heard of the caves, and driven past the signs for Great Basin many times. Looks like a pretty interesting place to visit. I like the no people part the best.

  2. Thanks for the sneak peek. We are thinking about stopping at Great Basin on our way back south this fall. It looks like a lovely place to spend a few days.

    • Yes, and at that time the roads and trails should be open so should have a lot more options. If you do the cave tour, I would try to do the one and a half hour tour, we did the one hour (only one offered at the time we could make it) and I would have enjoyed staying a little longer.
      Brenda

  3. Definitely putting this one on the bucket list. Ten more school days and we can go anytime we want! Wooo Hooo!!!

  4. Hope the road is open and some of the snow has melted by the time we get there in a couple weeks. Looks like a nice campground but too bad there is no Verizon. Not sure how long I will be able to convince Jim to stay with no internet!

    • Hope so too. We did our internet stuff parked in front of the visitor center but I imagine there is some establishment in the town of Baker with Wi-Fi as well.
      Brenda