Discover the Natural Beauty of the Great Basin National Park

Welcome to our post of images and video of the Great Basin National Park.

For people who think that Nevada is all about the wild parties and neon casinos of Las Vegas, where sunny days and temperatures of over 30C are the norm, it may be a surprise to know that permanent snowfields and even a small glacier lie just 400km to the north. They are found on Wheeler Peak, one of the star attractions of the Great Basin NP. In addition, there are varied wildlife zones, wonderful desert scenery as well as great mountain views which make this a nice change from the disconsolate grey-green, sagebrush-covered plains that are a common feature of the state.

The diversity of natural beauty makes Great Basin a must-see destination for any outdoor-lover – the hardest thing is identifying where to begin. Climb or take a picturesque drive up the 4000m-high Wheeler Peak for striking views; wander through plantations of bristlecone pines that are more than 3,000 years old; take a guided tour through the marble halls of Lehman Caves; or hike among pellucid alpine lakes like Stella Lake.

Stella Lake Great Basin NP
Stella Lake Great Basin NP

The Drive to Wheeler Peak

Source : Frank Kovalchek

When the darkness catches up with you, you are still in luck: The starry dark skies and top-drawer astronomy programs are just as intriguing as the amazing scenery that you can see during the day.

The road that leads to the park winds up the all way to the summit of Wheeler Peak – the second highest point in Nevada – and to the region’s only glacier, sitting next to a cluster of bristlecone pines.

Bristlecone pines Great Basin NP
Bristlecone pines Great Basin NP

Great Basin Nation Park is relatively young compared to some of its contemporaries in other states, but within its boundaries are some of the world’s oldest trees. The bristlecones stand at the rear guard of a Pleistocene forest that once eclipsed most of the region. Now surviving in isolated pockets, some trees are 5,000 years old – present when Tutankhamun was the ruler of Egypt.

These trees are a sight to behold; the old ones are gnarled, with broken branches and contorted shapes. Because they grow on rocky ridges, exposed to harsh conditions, they grow very slowly, making the wood very dense and heavy.

In one wing of this mountain, at an altitude of about 2000m lies Lehman Caves. It is an elaborate cave system composed of impressive marble and limestone caverns which offer a great opportunity to study cave features such as stalactites, stalagmites, helictites and flowstone.

The first room in Lehman Caves, the Gothic Palace
The first room in Lehman Caves, the Gothic Palace

The caverns contain more than 300 shield formations, something which is rare in other caves. Park rangers are always available to show visitors around; with more than 1.5 miles of underground passages, you can easily take a wrong turn and end up getting lost.

The mountain itself is very popular with the more than 80,000 visitors who visit Great Basin annually because it is quite easy to climb. It rises like a prominent island from the surrounding desert; as you go higher, the moisture increases and the temperature drops, resulting in varied plant and wildlife zones spread over a vertical distance of 2100m. There are several routes that lead to the top, but perhaps the ideal one is the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, a paved road that is a relatively easier round trip trail to the summit.

View_of_Wheeler_Peak_and_Aspens_during_autumnal_foliage_color_change_from_Wheeler_Peak_Scenic_Drive_in_Great_Basin_National_Park,_Nevada
Aspens on the drive up to Wheeler Peak

Wheeler Peak is home to lots of wildlife. More than 73 species of mammals, 236 species of birds and 18 species of reptiles live here, making it a truly remarkable area.

Source : Paul VanDerWerf

Wheeler Peak is home to lots of wildlife. More than 73 species of mammals, 236 species of birds and 18 species of reptiles live here, making it a truly remarkable area.

Great Basin NP Gopher Snake
Great Basin NP Gopher Snake

You may come across mule deer migrating up or down the mountain depending on the climatic conditions, as they search for grass or escape the deep winder snow.

When winter arrives, Great Basin National Park is transformed into a haven of silence and solitude. Frozen ice gently adorns the blade of grass growing along the stream beds as water flows calmly under the sheets of ice. Snow usually signals the start of winter recreation at the park.

Adventurous visitors on skis and snowshoes come to explore the various trails and roads. And just when you think that you are all alone, the sighting of fresh paw prints in the snows reminds you that you’ve got company. With practice, and as you make use of guide books, you will be comfortable identifying a wide array of tracks and patterns.

Any season is a great time to visit Great Basin National Park. So plan your itinerary and make it your next stop!

More Information : Great Basin National Park Service

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