In an effort to fill my Passport book with stamps from national parks, Tom and I did an overnight trip to Great Basin National Park in Nevada. Sometimes Tom and I feel like we are living in the middle of nowhere, but Great Basin is really there. No cell service and no WiFi for 60 miles in any direction. It takes four hours to drive there from Pipe Spring, and once you get past Cedar City there is nothing. NOTHING. A whole lot of nothing.
Because Great Basin National Park is so remote, Tom and I knew we would never get to it if we didn’t go while we were this close. So we “bit the bullet” on the long drive and headed out.
The drive to Great Basin is beautiful but remote. Great Basin is in the area of the United States known as “Basin and Range.” This means you alternate valleys and mountain ranges that run north and south for hundreds of miles. Great Basin National Park preserves one small section of this area.
Great Basin National Park began as Lehman Caves National Monument in 1922. In 1986 its borders expanded to include the mountains around the caves. In addition to the caves, Great Basin also has a large area of bristlecone pine trees and a glacier. The glacier is the furthest south in North America. There are campgrounds in the park with lots of hiking and backcountry opportunities.
Tom and I followed the signs to the Visitors Center, although it turns out that it was the wrong Visitors Center. We went to Lehman Caves Visitor Center (more on this tomorrow) instead of the main Visitor Center. Because we came from south of Baker on NV 488, we didn’t pass the main Visitor Center. So we had to go back to see it. I guess most people come from US 50 into the park.
Baker isn’t much to see (population 68). There were some very seedy looking places to stay with some places to eat. But I was glad Tom and I were just passing through. The Great Basin Visitor Center is the liveliest and newest building in town.
We spent quite a bit of time in the Visitors Center, reading everything we could. Tom and I dawdled because there were big thunderstorms moving in over Wheeler Peak. We hoped to hike the Bristlecone Trail and see the glacier. Alas, the storms cut our visit short. We drove along the edge of the park and headed to our overnight destination.
I’m sure Great Basin National Park is a wonderful place to visit. Their night sky program is well-developed. It would be a beautiful place to camp for a couple of days and do some hiking.