Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park

Quick Facts

Great Basin National Park

Nevada

(775) 234-7331

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

In the shadow of 13,063-foot Wheeler Peak, 5,000 year old bristlecone pine trees grow on rocky glacial moraines. Come to Great Basin National Park to experience the solitude of the desert, the smell of sagebrush after a thunderstorm, the darkest of night skies, and the beauty of Lehman Caves. Far from a wasteland, the Great Basin is a diverse region that awaits your discovery.

Map of Great Basin

Latitude, Longitude: 39.005698, -114.219313

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Activities

  • Bird Watching

    Many types of birds can be found in Great Basin National Park and the surrounding area. A large variety of birds can be seen in the many different habitats encountered between the town of Baker (5,280 feet elevation) and the end of the Scenic Drive (10,000 feet elevation). Many birds such as the Common Raven, Northern Flicker and the American Robin, can be found in more than one type of habitat. Ask for a working checklist of all the birds found in Great Basin National Park. The Park encourages reporting of sightings of birds listed as uncommon or not found on the current checklist. The following is a listing of a few of the birds and some of the areas with easy access where specific birds may be found. On your drive up from Baker, in the sagebrush grasslands, birds one might see include: Killdeer, Long-billed Curlew, Golden Eagle, Northern Harrier, Common Raven, American Kestrel, Red-tailed Hawk, California Quail, the Eurasian Chukar, Sage Grouse, Mourning Dove, Horned Lark, Scrub Jay, Black-billed Magpie, Western Kingbird, Barn Swallow, Loggerhead Shrike, Song Sparrow, Black-throated Sparrow, Cassin's Finch, European Starling, Red-winged Blackbird, and Western Meadowlark. If you are lucky you could also see birds such as ducks and other waterbirds flying overhead, moving from one pond to another. Some of these include; Great Blue Heron, Canada Geese, Sandhill Crane, Mallard, Green-winged Teal, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Cinnamon Teal. During the winter a lucky sighting could include a Bald Eagle on a telephone pole. At dusk or dawn during the summer, stop and listen for the whinnying of Common Snipe, for the call of a Common Poor-will, Great Horned Owl or the "bull-bat" roar of a Common Nighthawk. Watch out for the "copper penney colored" eye of the Poor-will reflecting in your headlights. They often view the roadway as the perfect clearing for their habit of "flycatching" from the ground.

  • Bicycling

    Mountain biking is allowed only on roads (no trails) in the park. Helmets are strongly recommended. There are primitive roads to access for more of a challenge.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    The Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, 12 miles, is paved, but steep and winding. The average grade is 8%. The Scenic Drive beyond Upper Lehman Creek Campground is closed to single vehicles in excess of 24 feet in length and trailers in excess of 24 feet in length. The road is open to Upper Lehman Campground year-round. The upper nine miles of the road are generally open June through October, weather depending. Baker Creek Road: This is a highly maintained gravel road and is generally open May through November; weather depending. Remote Park Roads: Strawberry, Snake, Lexington Arch roads are open year-round, but can be muddy or snowy in the winter and spring. High clearance vehicles are recommended for these rough, dirt roads.

  • Camping

    Great Basin National Park has four developed campgrounds with vault toilets, picnic tables, tent pads, and campfire grills. There are no hookups or leveled parking sites. Campsites are limited to eight people, three tents, and two vehicles per site. There are three campgrounds that have accessible sites. There are also two primitive campgrounds along Snake Creek and Strawberry Creek Roads. Sites have picnic tables and fire rings. Lower Lehman Creek is the only campground open year round. Other campgrounds are generally open from May until October, weather permitting. Water may not be available early and late in the season, and is not available in the winter at Lower Lehman Creek. Fees are reduced if water is not available.

  • Caving

    Lehman Caves is the most famous of Great Basin National Park's caves, but there are actually more than 40 caves in the park. Eight of these wild caves are accessible with a cave permit. All other wild caves are closed to the public. Many of the permitted wild caves in the park are important hibernacula and maternity roosts for various species of bats, including four National Park Service Sensitive species.

  • Climbing

    The area in and around Great Basin National Park sees a very limited amount of technical rock climbing. The hazardous nature of the rock is the main contributor to this as well as the remoteness of the sites. All routes in the Wheeler Peak area are hazardous with deadly rockfall at all times of year. Visitor Centers can provide information on routes.

  • Fishing

    The park is best known for its brown, brook and rainbow trout fishing. Some great location to find these species is in Lehman Creek, accessible from the Upper Lehman Creek Campground. Baker Creek also contains the same species and can be accessed from Baker Creek trailhead through Grey Cliffs Group Campground. Snake Creek Brown is the perfect habitat for brook trout while Strawberry Creek offers Bonneville cutthroat trout, however, these are only available for catch and release. Baker Lake can be accessed by a 12 mile hike round trip from Baker Creek trailhead. Brook and Lahontan cutthroat trout live in these mountain waters. It is important to remember never to catch fish in one area and release them in another body of water, this can spread disease. Worms are permitted, but the use of other live bait, amphibians, or non-preserve fish eggs is prohibited in the park. Fishing is by rod and reel only. Catch and release fishing using barbless hooks is encouraged. Stop at a park visitor center and obtain the Snake Range Recreational Fishing brochure. This interagency map of the north and south Snake Ranges also contains full color illustrations of fish species.

  • Hiking

    Great Basin National Park offers over 60 miles of developed hiking trails. Trail maps are available for purchase through the Western National Parks Association bookstores in both visitor centers.

    Day hikers are asked to sign in at trailhead registers. Permits are not required for backcountry camping, but registration is free and strongly encouraged. Registering provides rescuers with critical information in case of an emergency. Stop at a visitor center or call (775) 234-7331 x 212 for current information on trail conditions and routes.

    Access

    The hiking season at Great Basin National Park is typically limited to the months of June through September because many trails are at elevations of 9,000 feet or more. The Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive is not plowed and may not open until mid-June, weather depending. Gravel roads that lead to the remote southern section of the park are impassable until late spring. Four-wheel drive is required on some of these roads, especially when wet. Inquire at the visitor center or call (775) 234-7331 x 212 for more information on current road conditions.

    Trails

    If trails are provided, stay on them. Alpine communities are especially fragile and easily damaged. Taking shortcuts creates a complex web of trails and causes erosion. When traveling cross country, avoid damaging vegetation by staying on durable surfaces such as rock or mineral soil.

    Map reading skills are essential to any off-trail travel in the park. Backpackers should be prepared to hike cross-country on hard-to-follow routes, or to follow drainages, ridges and other natural features.

    Pets

    Pets are not allowed in the backcountry or on trails, with one exception. Leashed pets are allowed on the Lexington Arch Trail, a day use only area.

    Bicycles

    Bicycles are prohibited on all trails.

  • Horseback Riding

    Horses and other pack animals (mules, burros, and llamas) are welcome in the backcountry of Great Basin National Park. Horses are not allowed in developed campgrounds. Camping at trailheads is also prohibited. When planning a horseback riding or pack trip, please keep the following regulations in mind: Horses and pack animals are prohibited on paved roads, in campgrounds and developed areas (picnic areas, visitor center areas), on self-guided interpretive trails, and in day use zones. Horses and pack animals are allowed on all trails except: Wheeler Peak Day Use Area trails, Osceola Ditch trail, Lexington Arch trail, and Baker to Johnson Lake Cutoff trail.

  • Picnicking

    Lehman Caves Visitor Center Picnic Area has several accessible tables and fire grills. Restrooms and water are available in the summer season. This area is open from 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (summer hours may be extended). Upper Lehman Creek Campground has several picnicking possibilities, including an area near the host site, tables near the amphitheater, and a group picnic area available by reservation. The new Pole Canyon Trailhead Picnic Area, located off Baker Creek Road, has several accessible tables, fire grills, and a restroom. Water is not available.

  • Wildlife Watching

    The diverse habitats found in Great Basin National Park give rise to hundreds of species of wildflowers. Many flowers are attention-grabbing and dazzling with large blossoms and stunning colors. Others require a more observant, but well rewarded, eye. Generally, wildflowers are most abundant at lower elevations early in the season, and at higher elevations later. Wet years typically provide a greater abundance than dry years. But regardless of precipitation or month, whether from the car or by foot out on a trail, visitors of all ages and abilities can find wildflowers to enjoy.

    Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive is often lined with wildflowers throughout the summer months. Early bloomers such as evening primrose and Desert Mallow are replaced by Golden Peas, paintbrush, and penstemon as the summer wears on. Prickly Poppys, with their showy white blossoms and thorn covered stems, are hard to miss throughout the season.

    Island Forest Trail This 1/4 mile accesssible loop trail at the end of the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive offers glimpses of fragile alpine wildflowers. At over 10,000ft, flowers become lower to the ground, smaller, and harder to find. Look closely for Jeffrey's Shooting Stars, Crimson Columbine, Mountain Bluebells, and Parry's Primrose in damp meadows and along creeks.

    Baker Creek Trail Baker Creek Trail is sure to provide some of the finest and most highly varied floral offerings in the park. This trail, which climbs 1800ft. in elevation, weaves between lush, wet riparian areas, semi-arid slopes, dense woodlands, and wet meadows. Flowers vary throughout the summer months, making each trip up the trail unique.

    A hike in late May will begin with fields of big, bold, and brilliant gold Arrowleaf Balsamroot then wind past rose bushes and through Manzanita laden with tiny pink lanterns. Later months bring subtle Sego Lilies and vibrant Paintbrush to the open areas with White Bob Orchids, hosts of Yellow Monkey Flowers, Clover, Parsley, Monkshood, and delicate Shooting Stars near the stream. Columbine, Yarrow, Fleabane, Blue-eyed Mary, Bluebells, Harebells, Prickly Pear, and Lupine in purple and gold all find their niche along the Baker Creek Loop.

  • Winter Sports

    Solitude, stillness, and spectacular scenery greet visitors to Great Basin National Park in the winter. This quietest season of the year offers some unique experiences in the park. The Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive and Baker Creek Road are both closed to vehicle traffic, but open to skiers and showshoers. Winter camping is available in the Lower Lehman Creek Campground, which remains open all year, or in the backcountry. Lehman Caves Tours are also offered year round, with the advantage of small group sizes during the winter months.

    Be aware of the unique safety challenges of recreating in a remote winter environment. Please be advised that no food service exists in the park during the winter, and goods and services in Baker are limited.

    Skiing and Snowshoeing Novice skiers can find gentle slopes for touring or experienced ski mountaineers can challenge their skills on steep and deep backcountry runs. Visitors must bring all of their own equipment.

    Trails and roads in the park are not groomed, though some routes are flagged with tape.

    Snow conditions range from wet or hard packed snow to fresh dry powder. For current snow conditions, call (775) 234-7331 ext. 212.

    Winter Backcountry Camping The same regulations for camping in the backcountry during the summer apply in the winter. Day use areas, such as the Wheeler Peak area, remain closed to camping all year. Visitors may camp in the closed Wheeler Peak Campground during the winter at no charge. Winter Trail Descriptions The more popular trails and routes for skiing and snowshoeing in the park are described below. Trails are not groomed. In general, there are no flat or completely level trails. They all begin by climbing uphill, and include varying degrees of downhill to return to the trailhead. Trailhead elevations begin around 7,000 ft.

    Those routes that leave main roads may require map reading or orienteering skills, as not all trails are flagged. Know your abilities and limitations, and be sure to carry proper winter equipment and gear. Call (775)234-7331 ext. 212, or stop at any visitor center, to inquire about trail conditions or for better directions.

    Grey Cliffs Group Campground Description: This route begins at the barricade on Baker Creek Road, and follows the road through Grey Cliffs Group Campground to the trail between Grey Cliffs and Baker Creek Campgrounds. Make this a loop by skiing up to Baker Creek Campground, and then down Baker Creek Road back to the barricade. Difficulty: Novice to Intermediate Trail length (round-trip): up to 4 miles Hazards: Beware of trees lining the trail between Grey Cliffs and Baker Creek Campground.

    Pole Canyon/Timber Creek Loop Trail Description: This route follows a summer hiking trail of the same name, forming a loop back to the trailhead by way of Baker Creek Road. This route begins at the barricade on Baker Creek Road. Proceed into the Grey Cliffs Group Campground, but make the first left at the bottom of the hill towards Pole Canyon. Follow the road to the Pole Canyon Trailhead. The trail continues up a canyon, over a pass, and down the other side, to the Baker Creek Trailhead. From there, follow Baker Creek Road back down to the barricade. Difficulty: Novice to Intermediate Trail length (round-trip): 7.5 miles Hazards: Route finding may be difficult without orienteering skills.

    Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive Description: This route follows the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive from the point of the winter closure at Upper Lehman Creek Campground, to the Bristlecone Parking Lot at the end of the road. The lower portion of the road may have bare patches due to its south facing exposure, but conditions are almost always good for snowshoeing. Difficulty: Novice, Intermediate Trail length (round-trip): up to 20 miles Elevation gain: 2,500' Grade: 8% Hazards: The road is often windblown and free of snow in spots. May require some walking. The descent can be fast and icy.

    Upper Lehman Creek Campground Description: The road that loops through the Upper Lehman Creek Campground is a great beginner snowshoe or ski trail. You can reach the Lehman Creek Trailhead on this route as well. Difficulty: Novice Trail Length: up to 2 miles

    Lehman Creek Trail to Wheeler Peak Parking Lot Description:This route follows a summer trail. To reach the trail requires parking at the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive barricade, and following the road next to the Lehman Creek Campground to the official trailhead. Note that camping is allowed in the Wheeler Peak Campground during the winter at no charge. Difficulty: Advanced to Expert Trail length (round-trip): 8 miles Elevation gain: 2,500' Grade: 13% Hazards: This trail is steep and can become very icy. May be sparsely covered at times, with exposed rocks and vegetation. Trail is sometimes difficult to follow and the descent can be fast and treacherous with low overhanging branches.

    Glacier/Bristlecone/Alpine Lake Cirque Area Description: Reaching this loop trail in the winter first requires skiing or snowshoeing the Lehman Creek Trail to the Wheeler Peak Parking Lot (see above description), which adds 8 miles roundtrip, in addition to the mileage below. Camping is not allowed on this trail, as it is part of the Wheeler Peak Day Use Area. Camping is permitted, however, in the Wheeler Peak Campground at no charge. Difficulty: Intermediate to Expert Trail length (round-trip): 5 miles Elevation gain: 768' Grade: 5% Hazards: This trail begins at 10,000ft elevation. It can be very dangerous during high avalanche danger. Travel over frozen lakes can be very dangerous. This trail is not marked or flagged and route finding can be difficult without orienteering skills.

    Wheeler Peak: 13,064 ft Jeff Davis Peak: 12,771 ft Bald Mountain: 11,562 ft Description: Reaching any of these trails in the winter first requires skiing or snowshoeing the Lehman Creek Trail to the Wheeler Peak Parking Lot (see above description), which adds 8 miles roundtrip, in addition to the mileages below. Be advised that overnight camping is not permitted in the Wheeler Peak Day Use Area. You may, however, camp in the Wheeler Peak Campground free of charge. Difficulty: Expert Trail length (round-trip): 8.4 mi. Wheeler 10.4 mi. Jeff Davis 7.0 mi. Bald Elevation gain: 3,165' Grade: 19% Hazards: These routes can be very dangerous during high avalanche danger. Snow conditions can change in minutes. These routes are not marked or flagged and route finding can be difficult without orienteering skills.

Seasonality/Weather

There is almost an 8,000 foot (2,400 m) difference in elevation between Wheeler Peak and the valley floor. Weather conditions in the park vary with elevation. In late spring and early summer, days in the valley may be hot, yet the snowpack may not have melted at high elevations. The Great Basin is a desert, with low relative humidity and sharp drops in temperature at night. In the summer fierce afternoon thunderstorms are common. Weather conditions are highly variable. Please come prepared for all types of weather. It can snow any time of the year at high elevations.

Park Partners

Great Basin Heritage Area Partnership

In 1998 citizens of Millard County, Utah; White Pine County, Nevada; the Duckwater Shoshone Reservation; and the Ely Shoshone Reservation came together to form the Great Basin Heritage Area Partnership. This grass roots, non-profit organization works to preserve the heritage of the central Great Basin, an area with stories of national significance. Designation of the central Great Basin as a National Heritage Area has been the goal of the group since its inception. One of the missions of Great Basin National Park is to interpret the resources of both the park and the entire Great Basin region. The Great Basin Heritage Area Partnership will work with the park to coordinate efforts to preserve the heritage and tell the stories of the Great Basin.

(775) 234-7171

Directions

Driving

From the east or west: From U.S. Highway 6 & 50, turn south on Nevada State Highway 487 and travel 5 miles to Baker, NV. In Baker turn west on Highway 488 and travel 5 miles to the park.

From the south (Utah): Travel north on Utah State Highway 21 through Milford, UT and Garrison, UT, which will become Nevada State Highway 487 as you cross the border. Turn west on Highway 488 in Baker and travel 5 miles to the park.

From the south (Nevada): Travel north on U.S. Highway 93 (Great Basin Highway). At the junction of U.S. Highway 6 & 50 drive east to Nevada State Highway 487 and turn south. Travel 5 miles to Baker, NV. In Baker turn west on Highway 488 and travel 5 miles to the park.

Flying

Plane - The nearest airport is loctaed in Cedar City, Utah, 120 miles away. Major airports are found in Salt Lake City (240 miles) and Las Vegas (287 miles.)

Public Transportation

No public transportation is available to, or in, Great Basin National Park.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(775) 234-7331

Links