WUDN

March-2024

Exploring the Great Outdoors: 5 Must-Visit Features of Every National Park in the United States

WUDN Outdoor Adventure (National Park Series)

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Part 20 of Our National Park Series

Great Basin National Park: Discovering the Depths of the Desert

National Park Series > Southwestern US > Great Basin National Park

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Nestled amidst the ancient peaks and sprawling valleys of eastern Nevada, Great Basin National Park stands as a testament to the rugged beauty and untamed wilderness of the American West. From its snow-capped summits to its labyrinthine caves, this hidden gem offers visitors a glimpse into a world of natural wonders waiting to be explored. With its diverse landscapes, rich biodiversity, and fascinating cultural history, Great Basin National Park beckons adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike to embark on a journey of discovery and awe.

Great Basin National Park beckons adventurers with its diverse array of natural wonders. From ancient bristlecone pine forests to subterranean caverns, the park offers a unique opportunity to explore the depths of the desert. Here are the top five activities to experience during your visit:

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Great Basin National Park - Photo by Donald Giannatti on Unsplash

Top 5 Outdoor Adventures in: Great Basin National Park

1. Exploring Lehman Caves:

Descend into the depths of Lehman Caves and marvel at the intricate formations of stalactites, stalagmites, and rare helictites. Join a guided cave tour to learn about the geology, history, and ecology of this underground wonderland. Don't miss the stunning Grand Palace room, with its towering columns and delicate formations, or the fascinating formations of the Gothic Palace.

2. Hiking the Trails:

Great Basin National Park offers a variety of hiking trails that lead to some of the park's most scenic and remote destinations. The Bristlecone Trail takes you through ancient groves of bristlecone pine trees, some of the oldest living organisms on Earth. For panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, hike to the summit of Wheeler Peak, the highest point in the park, or explore the alpine lakes and meadows of the Baker Creek area.

3. Stargazing:

Escape the glow of city lights and marvel at the brilliance of the night sky above Great Basin National Park. Join a ranger-led astronomy program or simply find a quiet spot away from the crowds to gaze in awe at the countless stars overhead. On clear nights, you can see the Milky Way stretching across the sky, as well as planets, constellations, and even the occasional meteor shower.

4. Camping Beneath the Stars:

Experience the magic of camping in Great Basin National Park with a night under the stars at one of the park's designated campgrounds. Choose from drive-in sites with modern amenities or backcountry campsites accessible only by foot or horseback. Fall asleep to the sound of rustling aspen leaves and wake up to the sight of snow-capped peaks and alpine meadows as you reconnect with nature in this remote wilderness.

5. Wildlife Watching:

Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife as you explore Great Basin National Park's diverse habitats and rugged landscapes. Spot mule deer grazing on hillsides, bighorn sheep scaling sheer cliffs, and elusive mountain lions prowling through the forest. Bring binoculars and a camera to capture sightings of birds such as golden eagles, peregrine falcons, and mountain bluebirds as you traverse the park's network of hiking trails and backcountry routes. Whether you're exploring underground caverns, hiking through ancient forests, or simply gazing at the stars overhead, Great Basin National Park offers endless opportunities for outdoor adventure and exploration.

In Great Basin National Park, some of the top attractions that draw visitors from around the world include:

1. Lehman Caves:
Explore the intricate underground world of Lehman Caves, one of the park's most iconic attractions. Join a guided tour to marvel at the stunning limestone formations, delicate stalactites, and rare shield formations found within the cave's labyrinthine passages. Learn about the cave's geology, history, and unique ecosystem from knowledgeable park rangers as you delve into this subterranean wonderland.

2. Wheeler Peak:
Scale the heights of Wheeler Peak, the tallest mountain in Great Basin National Park and the second-highest peak in Nevada. Hikers can embark on the challenging Wheeler Peak Summit Trail, a strenuous 8.6-mile round-trip trek that rewards intrepid adventurers with sweeping panoramic views of the surrounding landscape from the summit. Along the way, enjoy the diverse alpine flora and fauna that thrive in this high-elevation environment.

3. Bristlecone Pine Forest:
Journey to the ancient bristlecone pine forest, home to some of the oldest living organisms on Earth. Take a leisurely stroll along the Bristlecone Pine Trail to encounter these gnarled and weather-beaten trees, some of which have stood sentinel for thousands of years. Marvel at their resilience and adaptability as you contemplate the passage of time in this timeless landscape.

4. Scenic Drives:
Experience the beauty of Great Basin National Park from the comfort of your car by embarking on one of the park's scenic drives. Take the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive to enjoy breathtaking vistas of rugged mountain peaks, alpine meadows, and expansive valleys. Or explore the unpaved roads of the park's remote backcountry, where you'll encounter pristine wilderness areas, hidden valleys, and secluded camping

5. Stargazing:
Immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring beauty of the night sky at Great Basin National Park, renowned for its dark skies and excellent stargazing opportunities. Head to the park's designated stargazing areas, such as the Lehman Caves Visitor Center or the Wheeler Peak Campground, to witness the Milky Way in all its glory. Join a ranger-led astronomy program or simply lay back and marvel at the countless stars, planets, and celestial phenomena visible from this remote and pristine wilderness.

These are just a few of the many incredible attractions awaiting visitors at Great Basin National Park. Whether exploring its underground caves, scaling its lofty peaks, or gazing in wonder at the night sky, Great Basin offers endless opportunities for adventure, discovery, and appreciation of the natural world.

Some Real Wooden Style for Your Trip

We are working on more branded merch to accompany your trip. In the meantime, here is a pair of real wooden shades for some excellent style while you hike the lonely back roads of Great Basin National Park.

6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)

6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)

$35.00
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How to Get To Great Basin National Park

Getting to Great Basin National Park depends on your starting point, but here are some general guidelines:

1. By Car: Great Basin National Park is located in eastern Nevada, near the town of Baker. If you're traveling from the west, you can take US Highway 6/50 east from Ely, Nevada, or US Highway 50 east from Eureka, Nevada. From the east, you can take US Highway 50 west from Delta, Utah. Once you reach the town of Baker, follow the signs to the park entrance.

2. By Air: The nearest major airports to Great Basin National Park are Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) in Utah and McCarran International Airport (LAS) in Las Vegas, Nevada. From either airport, you can rent a car and drive to the park. The drive from Salt Lake City takes approximately 4-5 hours, while the drive from Las Vegas takes about 5-6 hours.

3. By Bus: There is no direct bus service to Great Basin National Park, but you can take a bus to nearby towns such as Ely, Nevada, or Delta, Utah, and then rent a car or arrange for local transportation to the park.

4. By Train: Amtrak does not offer service directly to Great Basin National Park, but you can take a train to nearby cities such as Salt Lake City, Utah, or Las Vegas, Nevada, and then continue your journey to the park by car or bus.

Once you arrive at Great Basin National Park, you'll find several options for exploring the park, including scenic drives, hiking trails, and ranger-led programs. Be sure to stop by the visitor center for information about park amenities, trail conditions, and upcoming events.

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History and Creation of Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park, located in eastern Nevada near the Utah border, is a stunning and diverse landscape that boasts a rich history dating back thousands of years. The park's creation and preservation are intertwined with efforts to protect its unique natural and cultural resources.

The history of human presence in the Great Basin region stretches back over 12,000 years, with evidence of ancient hunter-gatherer cultures found throughout the area. Native American tribes such as the Shoshone, Paiute, and Goshute have inhabited the region for centuries, relying on the abundant natural resources provided by the land.

European-American exploration of the Great Basin began in the early 19th century, as trappers, traders, and settlers ventured westward in search of new opportunities. The area that is now Great Basin National Park was first explored by Euro-Americans in the mid-19th century, with the discovery of the Lehman Caves in 1885 sparking interest in the region's natural wonders.

In the early 20th century, efforts to preserve and protect the area gained momentum, culminating in the establishment of Lehman Caves National Monument in 1922. Over the years, additional lands were added to the monument, and in 1986, Congress redesignated the area as Great Basin National Park, expanding its boundaries to encompass a larger portion of the surrounding landscape.

Today, Great Basin National Park is a testament to the natural beauty and diversity of the Great Basin region. The park's rugged mountains, expansive valleys, and pristine wilderness areas provide a home for a wide range of plant and animal species, including ancient bristlecone pine forests, high-altitude alpine ecosystems, and abundant wildlife.

Visitors to Great Basin National Park can explore a variety of recreational opportunities, including hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, and stargazing. The park's dark skies and remote location make it a prime destination for astronomy enthusiasts, with regular events and programs held at the park's observatory.

In addition to its natural wonders, Great Basin National Park is also home to a rich cultural heritage, with evidence of Native American habitation, early Euro-American exploration, and mining history found throughout the area. Interpretive programs, exhibits, and guided tours offer visitors the chance to learn more about the park's fascinating history and cultural significance.

Overall, Great Basin National Park stands as a testament to the importance of preserving our nation's natural and cultural heritage for future generations to enjoy and appreciate. Whether exploring its scenic landscapes, delving into its rich history, or simply marveling at the wonders of the night sky, visitors to Great Basin National Park are sure to be inspired by the beauty and diversity of this remarkable place.

/Fin. Great Basin National Park

As the sun dips below the horizon, casting a golden glow across the rugged landscape, it's easy to see why Great Basin National Park captures the hearts of all who venture within its boundaries. Whether hiking through alpine meadows, marveling at ancient bristlecone pines, or gazing up at the star-filled sky, every moment spent in this wilderness sanctuary is a testament to the enduring power and beauty of nature. As visitors bid farewell to Great Basin National Park, they carry with them memories of towering peaks, whispering pines, and boundless horizons, knowing that they have experienced something truly extraordinary in the heart of the American West.

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Great Basin National Park - Photo by Mitch Gritts on Unsplash

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Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

About the Author

Jaimeleigh Christian

Jaimeleigh Christian

Jaime is passionate about the outdoors and traveling throughout these gorgeous United States. Especially National Parks in the Pacific Northwest. 

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Travel

Outdoor Adventure Series

National Parks

Tour Guide

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