Have you ever thought how much you would like to get away from the heat during the summer? Well give a thought to Great Basin National Park. It is located in Nevada, not too far from the Utah state line. It is a park which offers such diversity, that all ages will find plenty to enjoy.
It is free to enter the park, but it is required to buy tickets to go on a guided tour through the first wonderful thing …Lehman Cave.
This being closest to the entrance and visitors center, it would probably be on your first thing to do list. It is suggested that you make reservations ahead of time as there are only two tours a day. This limestone cave was found by Absolom Lehman, who gave tours in the 1880’s. It was incorporated into the National Park. It is a wondrous sight of stalagmites and stalactites and other forms and a variety of colors. The guided tours last 60 or 90 minutes. It is not a strenuous activity, but bring a jacket because the cave stays at 50 degrees no matter how hot it is outside.
After visiting the cave, there are a number of educational hikes. The easiest seems to be the Alpine Lakes hikes. They start at the Bristlecone parking area and increase by only 450 feet. These are loop hikes and appropriate for young children to accompany you. These are the ones with deer and turkeys and rabbits. If you continue on past these lakes you can start the hike to Wheeler Peak. At this point, the elevation starts to increase, but the hike is great and the views from the top are spectacular. Of course, the main object of getting to the peak is to be able to look down on the Wheeler Peak glacier. This glacier is the only one in Nevada, and one of the most southern ones in the States. I think the difference being, this glacier is in the desert. Another one of nature’s many mysteries.
My favorite trail was the Bristlecone-Glacier Trail. We were lucky enough to have a ranger join us and explain the significance of these pine trees. The Bristlecone pine is one of the longest living species in the world. The reason for this is its ability to shut itself down as much as is needed to keep it alive in times of drought. One year it might be a rather large tree, as a drought progresses it looks like the limbs are dying all the way down to one little branch if required. The roots do not give access to water to the rest of the tree. When the drought is over the tree is renewed and all the branches restored. There was one tree which was 4,500 years old. Can you imagine all the changes in the world during its lifespan? I think it is fascinating to see something so in tune with nature.
There are several campgrounds at the Park. You should think about your needs and make a reservation for a campground space. The main thing to remember is that the campgrounds are at rising levels. Many times those at higher elevations can be very cold, have snow, and can be generally uncomfortable. Snow is often a problem at the park. In spring and fall make sure to call the Park, (775) 234-7331, to make sure they are open and what the conditions are.
Have a great time.