Great Basin National Park

Fact Box

Great Basin National Park
Established in 1986
77,180 acres
Visitation (2010) 88,870

Great Basin National Park is a “find” in the national park system. Those who make their way to this little-known park on the Nevada-Utah border often describe a sense of discovery in finding scenic mountains and glaciers and an array of things to do.

Visitors to Great Basin should, at the very least, plan on experiencing the extreme highs and lows within the national park. Drive to 10,000 feet in elevation for a close-up look at the park’s glacial cirque and long-range vistas of the basin valleys below; then, go down low on a ranger-guided tour through the underground world of ethereal cave formations in historic Lehman Caves.

The park, which rises several thousand feet above the valley floor, is majestic on approach and showcases a variety of ecosystems within, including the world’s oldest living tree species, bristlecone pine. Due to its gradient elevation which supports several ecosystems, the park is uniquely home to 70 percent of North America mammals and a wide array of snakes, lizards, and birds. Look for kangaroo rats, pygmy rabbits, coyotes, bobcats, and the rare sight of mountain lions.

Hike the alpine lake loop trail beneath imposing Wheeler Peak, or take on the steep and oftentimes windy ascent to Wheeler’s summit at a 13,063 feet. Or set up camp in one of the park’s four developed campgrounds or in the park’s new campsites along Strawberry Creek and Snake Creek roads. As the sun sets, make certain your sights are set on the darkest-of-dark night skies. Great Basin National Park is considered one of the darkest places in the lower 48 states, and is noted for its night sky viewing.