Plan your Visit to
Great Basin National Park
A Varied Landscape
If your next national park adventure takes you to Arches National Park you know that you will be traveling to a very dry environment with natural carved arches, but there are some national parks that allow visitors more than just the experience to visit one type of environment. Great Basin National Park in Nevada is just such a place.
When to go
May – June – July – August – September – October
Hiking – Bird-Watching – Winter Sports – Stunning Vistas – Wildlife – Scenic Drives
Great Basin National Park was not one of the first national parks to come onto the scene. Although the area was known as a national monument since 1922, it did not gain national park status until 1986. Since that time, Great Basin National Park has entertained over 100,000 visitors per year on its 77,180 acres of protected ground. A visit to Great Basin National Park is spectacular because the visitor is able to see and do many things in the park that other places on earth just do not seem to have, at least, not in all one destination.
When you think of Nevada images of slot machines and a desert climate likely are the first thing you think of, but beneath the ground at Great Basin National Park, visitors are treated to a show only nature could put on. Great Basin National Park is one of the only national parks that has become famous for the caverns beneath the surface. There are over 40 caves that run throughout the park and each one is completely different from one another, but before you get all excited about discovering the depths of the caves, you need to understand that these caves have been carved out over millions of years and therefore the ecosystems and even the rock structures within them are not adapted to humans and all that they bring with them. In an effort to protect the fragile caves of Great Basin National Park, they are not all open to the public. Lehman Caves is the only public cave that visitors are able to explore.
A visit to Lehman Caves does not mean that you are able to simply run in and see what there is to see. Rangers are allowed to lead visitors through the caves in specific areas that give visitors the opportunity to see the cave, but not disrupt its more fragile areas. If you want to explore Lehman Caves preparation is key. Preparing for the caves simply means that you make a reservation in advance to ensure that you will have a ranger to lead you through. Cave tours are quite popular and therefore during busy times the tours fill up very fast. Guests are able to tour the Lodge Room and the Grand Palace within Lehman Caves and the cost of the tour is between $8 and $10 depending on the length of the tour.
Gather Pine Nuts
It may seem like an odd thing to do at a national park, but Great Basin National Park is one of the few that allow the guests to pick the fruits of the park. There are no apple trees or berries to gather, but they do have pine nuts. The nuts from these Singleaf Pinyon Pine Trees are excellent forms of nutrition and have been a staple in the diets of Native Americans and many of the smaller animals that call Great Basin National Park home. Visitors are encouraged to pick the pine nuts but are limited to 25 pounds per household per year to ensure that the small creatures of the area do not grow hungry. These pine nuts are useful in a variety of dishes and taste great, so why not pick your share during your visit.
Enjoy the Night Sky
The bright lights of the Vegas strip do not allow for much stargazing to take place, but in Great Basin National Park you will be able to enjoy a stargazing experience like no other. Great Basin National Park is one of a handful of national parks that have been designated as Dark Sky Parks. This means that once the sun goes down, visitors are given the opportunity to see the night sky perfectly without interference from outside light sources. It is an opportunity that should not be missed.
Things to Know
There are no initial entrance fees for Great Basin National Park. You will however have to pay a camping fee if you wish to stay within the park. Developed campgrounds are $12 per night for standard camping with no water or RV campers can enjoy full hookups at Grey Cliffs Group Campground. Primitive camping is available as well for free. Please note that all camping is first come first serve and therefore to ensure you get a spot for the night you will want to arrive early.