Four days in the Great Basin

Great Basin National Park is a place that always called to me for many reasons. And on the first leg of our summer road trip, and only a few hours from Moab, it seemed a logical place to visit.

With fewer than 200,000 visitors per year, Great Basin National Park is one of the least visited national parks in the country.

Isolated and remote, the park extends from the desert Sage Brush Sea of around 5000 ft to the alpine terrain of just over 13000 ft on Wheeler Peak. Great Basin National Park is a land of contrasts.

A visit to the park means seeing the ancient bristlecone pines that can be up to 5,000 years old, looking upon the southernmost glacier in America,  hiking to alpine lakes, admiring the wildflowers, and experiencing ridge walk galore. All while walking was the Fremont people, the Shoshone, and ranchers came before.

The other highlight, of course, is exploring below ground in Lehman Caves. In the cave, a labyrinth awaits with stunning, otherworldly formations below the surface.

A friend of Joan’s is a ranger at the park and also gave us an after-hours peek behind the curtain further in the cave complex. What an experience and what an opportunity to see a different part of the cave with a more intimate setting than the main tour.

And there is, of course, the stunning night sky that is such a part of the experience at the park. In our increasingly populated world, the night sky is as much part of the wild experience as seeing a bear or walking the alpine terrain.

Are there much better things in the world than a quiet campsite, a rushing stream, and the Milky Way above?

Joan and I know the answer for us. And why we will return.

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