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The Great Basin National Park… Imagine the 3,000 Years of History Witnessed Here!

Last updated on August 24th, 2016 at 08:55 pm

The Great Basin National Park is a complex of numerous basins and mountain ranges. It is a vast region within California’s Sierra Nevada to Utah’s Wasatch Range.

great basin national park scenic view

The Great Basin is where steep mountains rise from broad valleys. It is a place where ancient trees cling to life through summer storms and winter snows. It’s a high desert landscape of dramatic vistas and surprising gifts ‐ a desert that is really of a different kind. Both glittering skies and darkest night skies can all be experienced in this park.

Interesting Facts

    • In the mid‐1800’s, explorer John C. Frémont named it the Great Basin.
    • It’s called the Great Basin because the water here does not flow into the ocean. It settles into a natural basin forming lakes which dry up during summer crusting the basin with salt.
    • The Great Basin is so vast it almost occupies the whole state of Nevada. Located in East Central Nevada, it covers two‐thirds of Nevada and spills over into Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and California.
    • It is a protected area of 77,000 diverse acres.
    • There are at least 90 basins or valleys that can be found here.
    • Water comes from waterfalls or snow melts that do not go anywhere or do not escape, they stay in and just evaporate the summer heat.
    • As you go deeper into the Great Basin pine trees can be found, including alpine deer.

List of tourist spots that the park has to offer

Bristlecone pine trees

The bristlecone pine trees found here are as old as 3,000 years and are among the oldest living things. They are remarkable for their longevity and their ability to survive the harsh cold weather. These can be found in Wheeler Peak Grove.
bristlecone-pine tree great basin

Wheeler Peak

Wheeler Peak is the second highest mountain in Nevada. Peaks in the Great Basin are 5,000 to 6,000 feet high. A hidden surprise can also be found in this mountain ‐ a glacier. It’s not a glacier like that of the dazzling blue ones that beautify Alaska, but simply a massive chunk of ancient ice covered by rock with an icy core. It’s a remnant of the Ice Age and the last of its kind.
great basin national park wheeler peak

Lehman Caves

The Great Basin National Park is also a place of breathtaking caves. The Lehman Caves in the base of Mount Wheeler is one single cavern with some of the most ornate cave formations in the American West. It has underground passages that are 1.5 miles long. These passages formed during the Ice Age, a time when the water table was still high and seeped through limestone thus creating pockets.

great basin national park lehman caves

Hiking Trails

The park also offers hiking trails of about 65 miles but remember to practice caution when hiking here.

great basin hiking

Things to be considered when preparing for a camping trip


Camping in Great Basin National Park offers a one of a kind experience. Since the park has been rated as the best spot for stargazing in North America, staying all night while watching the night sky is a rare treat for stargazers and campers.
great basin

Currently, there are 5 developed campgrounds in the park with vault toilets, picnic tables, tent pads and campfire grills. All campsites in Great Basin are on a first come first served basis.

Updates: Upper Lehman Creek Campground will be closed until Spring 2017 for road, water system and campsite upgrades.

Great Basin Astronomy Festival

The Great Basin Astronomy Festival is one of the park’s most celebrated event. This event is celebrated early fall each year when night skies are very clear for viewing. The view is even more amazing if using a telescope. Different sizes and shapes of telescope are offered for park visitors to view heavenly bodies like stars, planets and other sky objects.

great basin stargazing


The park’s weather changes from time to time so be prepared and plan accordingly. It can be hot and dry during the day especially in late spring and early summer days. At night, it can be cold or chilly especially at higher elevations so dress in layers. Check weather forecast here.



Should you decide to bring your pet in Great Basin, pets are not permitted on trails, backcountry of the park, Lehman Caves or at evening programs. Leashed pets are allowed in the campgrounds, in front of the visitor centers, and along roads. Pets may not to be left unattended at campsites .

Cell phone service

Great Basin National Park is located at the end of Highway 50 (also known as The Loneliest Road in America). This park is so isolated that cell phone service around the park is not reliable.

Tips for Planning your camping trip

    • Camping is on a first come first serve basis, so arrive at the park early to secure a spot.
    • Camping reservations can be made for some sites at the Grey Cliffs Campground which can accommodate large groups. For camping reservations visit this site .
    • Camping fees for developed camping sites are $12 a night while there is no camping fee for primitive sites.
    • Each campsite in the park is limited to eight people, three tents and two vehicles.
    • Opening and closing dates are dependent on weather conditions. Be sure to check current conditions online  or call a visitor center at (775) 234-7331 before your trip.
    • Park visitors are responsible to follow camping regulations.
    • Bring enough food to last your stay as there are limited services in the park.
    • Prepare a camping checklist and bring all necessary equipment such as sleeping bags, tents, first aid kit and safety gear.


The Great Basin National Park just won a certification as an International Dark Sky Park. It was the first in Nevada to earn the designation.

Untold treasures await your discovery at Great Basin National Park. We may taste eternity if only for a moment in this timeless national park.


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