When most people think about Nevada, they often instantly associate us with the glitz and glamour of the Las Vegas strip.Jacky Rosen
About the Park
Great Basin National Park is a remote park in eastern Nevada, which takes its name from the Great Basin, a dry and mountainous area between the Sierra Nevada and the Wasatch Mountains. The park has excellent diversity with the 13,000-foot Mount Wheeler, ancient bristlecone pine trees, the Lehman Caves, and some of the darkest skies for stargazing. Unfortunately, it was a long drive across Utah to see this exciting park, but we are glad we made the trek.
Check out the view from high in Great Basin National Park!
Live it up!
Best Things to do in the Park
- Take a tour of the Lehman Caves
- Hike the Bristlecone Trail to see some of the oldest trees in the world
- For the brave and in shape, try the difficult Wheeler Peak Summit Trail
- Enjoy the 12-mile Scenic Drive up the mountain and stop at the overlooks
- The Sky Island Forest Trail is a wheelchair accessible trail that takes you through a conifer forest in the high alpine area
- The Alpine Lakes Loop Trail is a great hike for alpine lakes and mountain views
We were on our way to the park, and just before the entrance to the park, Bev spotted this quirky display of legs and boots. She promptly got out and waded through the brush to get this shot. We never figured out what it was, but it was funny to us, nonetheless.
Size of Park
The rare Great Basin bristlecone pine that live in harsh conditions near the tree line are some of the oldest trees on earth, surviving for more than 4000 years.
Great Basin National Park is located in Nevada in the Great Basin Desert and extends over most of the South Snake Mountains. The park is also an International Dark Sky Park, and people from all over the state visit it for stargazing.
The park is famous for its marble Lehman Caves which have distinctive formations, and the growth of the ancient Bristlecone Pine grove. The park also features lakes and streams, and limestone caverns. Besides its geological wonders, the park is also home to wildlife, including bighorn sheep.
Bristlecone Trail is almost 3 miles long and is one of the most popular trails in the Grand Basin. From the park’s ancient forests to its surrounding peaks, you will experience the best of both worlds!
On Bristlecone Trail, you will encounter some of the oldest trees in the world, as the Bristlecone Pines are said to be 4,000 years old. This trail also leads to Teresa Lake.
Lexington Arch Trail
If you are looking for a more challenging hike, opt for the Lexington Arch Trail, which is more than 5 miles long and has an elevation of 820 feet. The trail is a little secluded, and the trailhead is also located outside the park. Due to its remoteness, crowds are not a problem at all. The road to Lexington Arch is also very rough, so tourists need a high-clearance vehicle to make this journey.
The trail offers views of some rare limestone arch formations. These arches have been said to be part of a natural bridge that was carved by the water flowing under it. Once you reach the arch, you can hike under it or marvel at it from a bench.
Sky Islands Forest Trail
This trail is a short loop that has zero elevation and is only 0.4 miles long, which makes it perfect for children and older adults. The trail is also wheelchair accessible. However, due to its easy access, the trail can be overcrowded as well.
The trail passes through a high alpine conifer forest. It is also a great trail to embark on if you are short on time but still want to appreciate Great Basin’s conifers.
Alpine Lakes Loop
Alpine Lakes Loop is 2.7 miles long, and even though it has an elevation gain of 600 feet, the hike is still pretty easy. The trail is also popular because of its excellent views, but at the same time, it is not as crowded as the Sky Islands Forest Trail.
By hiking the trail counterclockwise, you will start your journey from within a forest and come across Stella Lake, which has clear water and great views of Wheeler Peak. If you move farther than Stella Lake, you will pass another forest and a creek before you reach Teresa Lake. With high water levels, you can even go for a swim in the lake!
Lehman Creek Trail
This is a challenging trail, and only experienced hikers are recommended to hike here. The trail is almost 7 miles long with an elevation of more than 2,000 feet. Due to the trail’s difficulty level, there is little to no crowd here, and the reward of hiking it is fantastic! You will get to explore the various habitats of the Grand Basin, along with its meadows and forests. There are also multiple waterfalls along the creek.
Camping in the Park
Camping in Great Basin National Park in Nevada
There are five campgrounds in the Great Basin National Park: Baker Creek Campground, Wheeler Park Campground, Upper Lehman Creek Campground, Lower Lehman Creek Campground, and Grey Cliffs Campground. Some campgrounds operate seasonally due to the weather, and booking camping sites depends mainly on the season as you have a limited time frame during which you must make reservations. Outside that period, booking is first-come, first-served.
- Grey Cliffs Campground is for those who want to experience the solitude of the Great Basin. Unfortunately, no water or other amenities exist, so you are on your own.
- Baker Creek Campground has 37 sites. Vault toilets are available seasonally.
- Wheeler Park Campground offers a camping experience at a high elevation. This campground also has vault toilets available; there are no other amenities.
- Lower Lehman Creek Campground is located near the Lehman Caves. There is also a stream nearby where you can take a quick cooling dip.
- The campsites in Upper Lehman Creek Campground are located on a creek. There are 22 sites available that cater to both tents and RVs.
Camping options near the park
If you are still looking for a site or are not in the mood for a raw camping experience, you can find better options near the park, as many private landowners offer camping experiences. Many of these campgrounds are much more comfortable than the Great Basin camping sites as they have more amenities. Additionally, you will find plenty of RV parks and tent camping just a few miles from the national park.
Lehman Caves are the highlight of Great Basin National Park in Nevada. The caves are formed by the calcium carbonate and sediment buildup and contain 2 miles of passageways, which makes Lehman Caves the longest-known caves in Nevada. You can only enter the caves with ranger-led tours, which are offered year-round.
Lehman Creek is an excellent spot for fishing. The creek is located near the Upper and Lower Lehman Campgrounds and is known for Brook Trout and Brown Trout.
Located north of Wheeler Peak, Stella Lake is a famous spot for many hikers on the Alpine Lakes Loop Trail. The lake’s name comes from the tribes who used to live here.
Stella Lake is a bit larger than Teresa Lake and is known for its stunning landscape. Many migratory birds make a stop at this lake. You will also spot other wildlife, including elk, golden eagles, mule deer, and raptors.
This is a glacial lake located in the alpine area of the park. You can also see this lake from the bristlecone trail. However, it is best to experience the lake properly by going all the way to it. Other ponds and lakes also surround the lake. Keep in mind that the lake dries up in September, so it is better to visit it in summer. Behind the lake, you will see Wheeler Peak, which has Nevada’s only glacier. There are also benches on the site, so you can peacefully enjoy the view!
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