April 29 – 30 -
Our next stop was Great Basin National Park. What a different feel from Escalante and Southern Utah. Great Basin NP is off the beaten path and there is a real sense that not a lot of people visit this park. Our campground had 11 sites (first come – first serve) and was quite and peaceful.
A stream flowed right behind our camper and we could hear it splashing and gurgling all night long.
One of the most popular attractions in the park is a tour of Lehman Caverns. This cavern did not have the large open rooms that we have seen in other caverns. The path was tight and narrow, but as we squeezed through these passages, we saw how amazing the formations were.
The next day, we took a hike on one of the trails. After hiking so many trails over the last weeks that had such a dry desert feel to them, this lush, alpine trail felt so nice.
The trail followed a stream and we walked through stands of aspen, pines and fir.
As we climbed up higher in elevation, the trail opened up into meadows that were quite beautiful.
Looking back, we could see a distant valley that really gave us that feeling of a “great” basin.
That afternoon we drove up the road to Wheeler Peak, the second highest peak in Nevada. This peak rises to 13,063 feet and the road usually opens in mid May due to snow and ice. This past winter had been mild and the road was open, though all of the trails were still closed at the top.
If we had any delusions of hiking, as soon as we reached the first trailhead, we realized that it was not to be.
This was some serious snow. It is hard to believe that this much snow can still be around on April 30. We thought that Nevada was a desert.
Great Basin NP is beautiful. It is by far the least crowded National Park that we have visited. The Great Basin area covers almost the entire state of Nevada and gets the name because all of the water that drains into this area has no outlet to the oceans on either side of the continent.
This was an unexpected and very enjoyable stop on our way to California.