Great Basin National Park, Epically Underrated

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Mountains rose up along the fault lines of Nevada and great basins sat between them. Huge bowls among chains of mountains make this landscape outstandingly scenic. Without a clear path to the ocean, water drained internally into these basins forming saline lakes. Now vast expanses of shrubland ringed with snow-capped mountains are grazed by livestock in Nevada’s series of great basin and range landscapes. The Great Basin covers nearly all of Nevada and in the central borderland with Utah there sits Great Basin National Park, epically (sic) underrated.

Lehman Caves

Travel with an entertaining and informative guide into Lehman Caves. Here see the shield formations that make this cave special among caves. Lehman Caves is home to many of these, including the fantastic parachute shields of which cave geologists don’t fully understand. A highly-decorated cave full of stalactites, stalagmites, cave bacon, and draperies, Lehman shows our evolution regarding our relationship with nature.

Here there is evidence of sledgehammered formations, Hollywood influence, trail-blazer graffiti, and dynamited tunnels. In a cave that took millions of years to create, our recent ancestors prioritized economic gain over conservation and respect in a display of disregard that makes you stutter in shock. Fortunately, we’re beginning to learn from our mistakes. This is now a carefully guarded resource. We’re granted the privilege of seeing this for 90 minutes in the Grand Palace Tour. For more information, click here.

Take a Hike

Great Basin National Park has over 60 miles of established trails (click here) and incredible backcountry opportunity. Although permits are not required, registration at the trailhead is encouraged. See here for more details. Because much of this park is above 9,000 feet, be aware of snowpack and unpredictable weather.

The South Fork Baker Creek / Timber Creek Loop offers a challenging 5-mile alpine route showcasing some of the best scenery this park has to offer. Make the strenuous climb up to mountain meadows along the South Fork. Follow its lovely babble through a pine-aspen wonderland to a bowl. Pyramid Peak looms in the near distance. It is a place you could sit and enjoy with deep contentedness. Ancient Bristlecone pines dot the ridges above the bowl, clinging to exposed peaks with tenacity.

See firsthand evidence of avalanches along the Baker Creek descent back to the trailhead below. Switchbacks continue steeply downward among the hundreds of fallen trees. Each time the wind blows through the branches above making that lovely symphony of tree sounds, you should fear for your life. Beware of widow makers!

For more information on hiking destinations, visit our hiking destinations page here.

To help support our page, buy a photograph here.

Hiker Tips

  • Reserve your ticket to tour Lehman Caves here.
  • Be aware of snow closures. Wheeler Peak is open dependent upon conditions.
  • Camp for free along Snake Creek Road.

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