Visited: July 2019
Duration: 6-7 hours, a full day
Accommodations: Hidden Canyon Retreat (highly recommend)
Let’s start this post off by stating that Great Basin National Park has gone right into my top ten National Parks with the possibility of top 5. This is Nevada’s and the NPS’s best kept secret. Out in the middle of nowhere this park will amaze and awe you, I guarantee it.
We arrived in the afternoon and headed to the Visitor Center in the town of Baker, Nevada. Here we earned our Dark Sky Junior Ranger patches and grabbed our Great Basin Junior Ranger books. The park rangers here were extremely helpful and very amusing both times we visited.
We headed into the park and hit up the Lehman Caves Visitor Center to check on cave tours. Unfortunately all the cave tours were booked up for the next several days so we skipped that (all ok we have been to many caves and are really caved out, I would rather hike above ground). We took to the interpretive trail behind the visitor center and visited the Rhodes cabin where visitors in the early 20th century stayed while visiting the Lehman caves. It is now on the National Register of Historic places.
Next up we got back in the car and drove up the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive road and when I say up, I mean up, 9,886 ft! There are several overlooks I recommend stopping at on the way to Wheeler Peak. Just look at these pictures we took, not sure you could take a bad photo at this park.
The center stage here at Great Basin is a very unique specimen named the Bristlecone Tree, they are found up in the Snake Range between 9,500 and 11,000 feet. These trees are 3,000 to 5,000 years old and are the oldest living thing to still inhabit this earth today. Pretty cool, huh!!
Once atop Wheeler peak we set out to hike the Bristlecone Trail so we could hike through a grove of these trees, some were in the range of 5,000 years old. This hike was/is probably one of my favorite hikes in all of the parks I have done so far. Just awesome beauty all the way up and all the way down. The trees are truly awe-inspiring, I haven’t seen anything like it before. We had a hard time wanting to leave the grove. I highly recommend putting this park and trail on your bucket list! Check it out.
Gunnar was excited to see snow in July! We headed back into Baker, Nevada for some dinner, not expecting much. There was 2 places to eat and the first looked a little sketchy so we past on that, the next one was a very pleasant surprise. We had to wait about 10 minutes for a table but it was worth it. While waiting on the bench outside we played with a hairless cat, yes you heard me a hairless cat in the middle of nowhere Nevada. Gunnar kept calling it a skinless cat and didn’t realize what he was saying (nobody corrected him). We still let him call it that and we all giggle, he finally figured it out.
We sat down and ate our meal, one which I would drive straight to Nevada for again anytime of the day, it was the best burger I have ever eaten in my life!!! Straight up amazing food, Kerouac’s Restaurant, I would give it ten stars! After our fine dining we headed off to our retreat. Hidden Canyon Retreat is another hidden gem in Nevada. We loved this place and wish we could have stayed longer. Tonight we all got in the huge hot tub outside and enjoyed the most starred sky I have ever seen in my life. Great Basin is one of the National Parks in the Dark Sky program, meaning it has the least light pollution of all of the parks and you can see every star in the galaxy here at night. I can’t even begin to tell you how cool this was to see. Definitely one our favorite memories of this trip, and another reason for its ranking in my top ten of parks.
In the morning we enjoyed a great breakfast up at the lodge of the retreat, packed our bags for Reno and headed back to the Visitor Center in town. We earned our Great Basin Junior Ranger badges and got a telescope/astronomy lesson.
Badges, patches, passport stamps and everything else we would ever need and we are off.
I hope you enjoyed our trip to Great Basin National Park and I hope that this post will really “sink” in and get you excited to visit this park! Get it? Sink…..Basin…… Anyways put this one on the list, you won’t be disappointed. Until next time (Which will be Lassen National Park another one in the top ten if not #1). Check back soon.