Last Updated on April 22, 2022
The Great Basin National Park is a United States National Park established in 1986, located in east-central Nevada near its border with Utah, five miles west of the town of Baker. It is located in the Great Basin Desert, the dry and mountainous region between the Sierra Nevada and the Rocky Mountains and the largest of the four major deserts in the US.
The Great Basin Desert
The Great Basin is a high-elevation desert and remote wilderness area that comprises most of Nevada and adjacent portions of eastern California, southeastern Oregon, southern Idaho, western Utah and southwestern Wyoming.
The Great Basin is characterized by a series of north-south running mountain ranges separated by relatively flat basins. The highest peaks in these ranges are over 13,000 feet, while the lowest points in the basins are about 4000 feet. Due to the “rain-shadow” effect from the Sierra Nevada and the numerous mountain ranges in the basin itself, the Great Basin is very arid, with annual precipitation varying from approximately 4 inches per year to 10 inches per year, although the highest peaks can have significantly more precipitation, which mostly occurs in the form of snow in the winter, and is thus not available to plant life during the growing season.
Weather conditions in the Great Basin Desert vary with elevation. In late spring and early summer, days in the valley may be hot, yet the snowpack may not have melted at higher elevations. The Great Basin is a desert, with low relative humidity and hot daytime temperatures which drop sharply at night. In the summer fierce afternoon thunderstorms are common. At high elevations, it can snow throughout the year. Climate in the desert is highly variable and prone to extreme weather conditions, so make sure to dress accordingly.
There are a few major cities and towns in the Great Basin desert:
- Salt Lake City (UT)
- Boise (ID)
- Reno (NV)
- Carson City (NV)
- Baker (NV)
Great Basin National Park
The Park is open daily, year round, from 8:00 a.m to 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time. Extended hours in the summer. Closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.
Great Basin National Park has no entrance fee. Cave tour fees vary depending on length of tour. 60 minute tours cost Adult/Child $8.00/$4.00 while the 90 minute tours cost $10.00/$5.00. Golden Age/Golden Access card holders pay child rates. Camping fees are $12.00 for developed campgrounds per night/per site. $6.00 for Golden Age/Golden Access card holders. Primitive campgrounds have no fee.
The nearest airport is located in Cedar City, Utah, 142 miles away. Major airports are found in Salt Lake City, Utah (234 miles) and Las Vegas, Nevada (286 miles). The closest town to the park is Baker, Nevada. You will have to access the park via car as there is no direct public transportation available.
From the east or west – From U.S. Highway 6 & 50, turn south on Nevada State Highway 487 and travel 5 miles to Baker, NV. In Baker turn west on Highway 488 and travel 5 miles to the park.
From the south (Utah) – Travel north on Utah State Highway 21 through Milford, UT and Garrison, UT, which will become Nevada State Highway 487 as you cross the border. Turn west on Highway 488 in Baker and travel 5 miles to the park.
From the south (Nevada) – Travel north on U.S. Highway 93 (Great Basin Highway). At the junction of U.S. Highway 6 & 50 drive east to Nevada State Highway 487 and turn south. Travel 5 miles to Baker, NV. In Baker turn west on Highway 488 and travel 5 miles to the park.
Things to do
- Check the exhibits at the two visitor centers
- Drive the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive
- Walk the Island Forest Trail, the Mountain View Nature Trail, and the Bristlecone Pine Trail
- Join a Lehman Caves Tour
- Visit the Baker Archeological Site
- Search for ancient rock art at Pictograph Cave
- Climb Wheeler Peak
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