21 Best Things to Do in Great Basin National Park, NV

Great Basin National Park, NV
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The Great Basin National Park in Nevada is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the United States.

The Great Basin is a high desert and mountainous terrain with various habitats, from desert scrub to pine woods.

The park is home to the bristlecone pine, one of the oldest trees on the planet, which can live for at least 4,000 years.

Visitors can take the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, which ascends to Wheeler Peak and provides stunning views of the valley below.

You can also see one of the park's many ancient bristlecone pine groves nearby.

Likewise, you can find stalactites and other strange formations within the marble Lehman Caves.

Here are the best things to do in Great Basin National Park, NV:

Join the Lehman Caves Tour

Stunning view inside the Lehman Caves
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In your search for the ultimate adventure, Lehman Caves should be your first stop.

Lehman Caves has enthralled visitors for over 200 years as one of the Silver State's largest and most stunning cave systems.

In the late 1880s, a man named Absalom Lehman noticed that the earth was freezing and searched for the source.

Formations inside the Lehman Caves
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Absalom marveled at the diversity of stalactites and stalagmites that he saw in the caves.

After his discovery, he began organizing private cave excursions for hundreds of guests.

Great Basin National Park now offers guided excursions.

The park also offers camping opportunities for visitors to explore this fantastic environment independently.

Hiking into its depths and paddling through one of its rivers or lakes are just two ways you can explore this unique location on your own.

Interior of the Lehman Caves
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Stay at the Hidden Canyon Retreat

Secret canyons and serene lakes are perhaps the last things that come to mind when you think about Nevada.

Hidden Canyon Retreat, on the other hand, provides incredible sceneries that you don't want to miss.

The beautiful Hidden Canyon Retreat is located in Great Basin National Park.

This place is one of Nevada's most beautiful getaway spots.

Hidden Canyon Retreat boasts breathtaking views, crystal-clear lakes, and natural regions.

This company offers guests affordable hotel alternatives due to its proximity to Lake Tahoe.

This place fits any retreat, including elegant dwellings and inexpensive holiday houses for families.

Take a Road Trip along the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive

The road of Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive
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An excursion to Wheeler Peak to see the Great Basin is a must-try for any outdoor enthusiast.

Driving up approximately 10,000 feet of elevation gain in 12 miles, you'll behold Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive in its splendid entirety.

The Great Basin will be your backdrop as you travel through diverse plant communities.

Perhaps, you'll even come face to face with some of the region's abundant wildlife.

Landscape of Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive
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Depending on the quantity of snow, this route may or may not be open year-round.

The Upper Lehman Creek Campground does not authorize using oversized cars or trailers.

As the place isn't accessible to pets, ask someone to watch over them while you're there.

Mountain view from Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive
Murray Foubister, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Go Hiking at the Wheeler Peak Area

Daytime view of Wheeler Peak
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See the breathtaking summit of Mount Wheeler at the Great Basin National Park.

It provides panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and Carson Valley and is the second tallest peak in the park after Mount Charleston.

View from Wheeler Peak's hiking trail
Arlene Waller / Shutterstock.com

Since the terrain is so elevated, the weather might be unpredictable.

Beginning the hike is pretty simple, but as you approach the peak, you will start to gain significant height.

High gusts are usual there, and you will need to scramble to reach the summit.

A hiker on Wheeler Peak's rocky summit
Kelly vanDellen / Shutterstock.com

Discover the Bristlecone Pines

Daytime view of a  Bristlecone Pine
Will Pedro / Shutterstock.com ​

The Great Basin is a desert region between the Wasatch and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges in western North America.

Bristlecone pines are the longest-living trees and organisms on earth due to their resilience to extreme environments.

These trees are a prominent feature of Great Basin National Park.

View of a lone Bristlecone Pine cone at night
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Due to the high altitudes, chilly weather, and strong winds, they grow very slowly.

As a result, their wood is excellent and resistant to erosion and insects.

Although they also develop at lower altitudes, these variants lack the same endurance and twisted properties.

 Bristlecone Pines along a hiking trail
LHBLLC / Shutterstock.com 

Shop for Supplies at the Park Store

Great Basin National Park has much more to offer besides hiking and camping.

On the other hand, the park store is a must-stop when you get there.

If you visit the Great Basin National Park, pick up a souvenir at the park store, which sells a range of cave-themed merchandise.

The park store offers a variety of goods, including books, trinkets, and maps.

The Western National Parks Association (WNPA) oversees its operation, which is dedicated to furthering the educational objectives of Great Basin National Park.

The Lehman Caves Visitor Center is also near the Park Store, so check it out.

Try Fishing at Johnson Lake

The waters of Johnson Lake
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Fishing is a fun outdoor activity, and Great Basin fishing is no exception.

Go fishing in Nevada if you're looking for a fun activity for the whole family or some alone time.

Holders of fishing licenses in Nevada can also catch Bonneville cutthroat trout at Johnson Lake, the biggest freshwater lake in the state.

Stunning view of the Johnson Lake
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The native fish have lived there since the end of the last ice age, but their natural habitat diminished outside this famous park.

Some species were forced to dwell in frigid, high-elevation streams such as Lake Bonneville, the Great Basin.

To ensure that everyone can enjoy this endangered species again, biologists work carefully to protect and restore their populations.

Try Star Gazing at the International Dark Sky Park

In the spring of 2016, Great Basin National Park received the designation of International Dark Sky Park.

The Great Basin offers an outstanding and unique opportunity to experience pitch-dark evenings, according to the International Dark-Sky Association.

Here you can still find some of the darkest night skies in the United States.

A high altitude combined with low humidity and minimal light pollution opens a unique window to the cosmos.

During moonless clear evenings, you can see with your naked eye thousands of stars, planets, star clusters, meteors, artificial satellites, and the Andromeda Galaxy.

Take a Morning Walk at the Baker Creek Trail

Waters along Baker Creek Trail
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Baker Creek Trail in Great Basin is your best option if you're looking for a hike that will leave you feeling relaxed and on top of the world.

It rises 1800 feet and contains some of the most varied wildflowers in the entire globe.

This trail passes through rich riparian habitats, dry slopes, dense forests, and wet meadows.

Because the flowers change during the summer, every hike up the trail is different.

You can find blue-eyed Mary plants along the streamside paths, making this an excellent location for a picnic meal.

Bluebells bloom fully in early spring, renowned for their beauty and fragility.

Go Bird Watching at Great Basin

A small chickadee on a tree
Dominic Gentilcore PhD / Shutterstock.com

Bird watching is quite good in Great Basin National Park.

Great Basin National Park and the surrounding attractions are home to a wide variety of bird species.

Birding is an excellent way to enjoy the outdoors.

You will indeed discover something that interests you, from songbirds to raptors.

A baby swallow bird in a tree
Dominic Gentilcore PhD / Shutterstock.com

If you consider visiting Great Basin, you might want to pick up a bird checklist from one of the visitor centers.

Thanks to this list, you'll have no room for error because you can recognize every bird in the park quickly!

However, if you find "uncommon" or "not found" birds that aren't on the current checklist, report them to a ranger.

A wild turkey at Great Basin
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Try Pine Nut Gathering

Great Basin National Park is most beautiful in the autumn.

The days become longer while the leaves on the trees turn yellow and orange.

Likewise, the evenings get crisper.

Gathering pinyon pine nuts is one of the best ways to connect with nature and appreciate the beauty of autumn.

Between 6,000 and 9,000 feet, Utah juniper grows in mixed stands with the numerous single-needled pines around Great Basin National Park.

Native Americans have valued these trees for thousands of years.

Even the famed explorers Lewis and Clark used them to travel across the continent.

These pine trees produce healthy and delectable nuts.

For thousands of years, pinyon nuts have been essential to animals.

In addition to providing food for birds and other animals, its high protein content also helps feed people.

Relax at the Lehman Creek

Waters of the upper Lehman Creek
Wing-Chi Poon, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Great Basin's Lehman Creek is perhaps the most popular location if you're interested in fishing.

Lehman Creek is located approximately 15 miles south of Ogden, Utah, in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest.

It teams with brook and brown trout, and includes a hiking track that connects the Upper and Lower Lehman Campgrounds.

It's also near major cities.

Moreover, it has a parking lot, so you should not worry about your personal belongings!

Part of the Lehman Creek along a hiking trail
Famartin, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can reach Lehman Creek by taking the Scenic Drive toward Upper Lehman Campground.

The Lehman Creek Trailhead and the other side of Upper Lehman Campground feature spacious parking areas.

These are the most excellent parking areas for fishing but not camping.

A hiking track parallels Lehman Creek between Upper Lehman and Lower Lehman Campgrounds.

You'll also find plenty of brown and rainbow trout in this section.

A hiker walking along Lehman Creek trail
Kelly vanDellen / Shutterstock.com

Enjoy the Scenic View at Teresa Lake

Scenic view of Teresa Lake
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Alpine Lakes Loop is one of the most popular hiking trails in Great Basin National Park.

Hikers follow the coastlines of Teresa Lake and Alpine Lake on this circle trail, which begins in the Bristlecone Creek Canyon.

Elevation sign of Teresa Lake
Kelly vanDellen / Shutterstock.com

At 0.2 miles from the Bristlecone Creek Canyon trailhead, the trail to Teresa Lake separates from the bristlecone trail.

You can also see this lake at 0.2 miles from the bristlecone trail.

Teresa Lake, located in an alpine location, is surrounded by other lakes and ponds.

A stream flowing towards Teresa Lake
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Discover Stella Lake

The flowing waters of Stella Lake
Danita Delimont / Shutterstock.com

White Pine County, Nevada, is known for its stunning landscape and safe attractions.

The county is home to the glacial tarn of Stella Lake in the Snake Range in Great Basin National Park.

The lake serves as a rest stop for various ducks and shorebirds between northern and southern latitudes.

Visible rocks from the bottom of Stella Lake
Danita Delimont / Shutterstock.com

Mule deer, elk, golden eagles, and other raptors call this region home.

This lake's name comes from the Stellatmoora people who originally lived there.

During a trip in 1874, they praised Stella Lake as the most beautiful object to see around the Great Basin.

Night scene at Stella Lake
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Set up Camp at the Grey Cliffs Campground

Signage of Grey Cliffs Campground
Kit Leong / Shutterstock.com

Grey Cliffs Campground is a great spot to consider when organizing your next camping adventure with friends or family.

Discover the beauty of this place and the serenity of the Great Basin in the darkest night skies, where you can see lots of beautiful stars.

Numerous paths in the park offer views of mountain peaks and an alpine lake surrounded by breathtaking cliffs.

The Grey Cliffs Campground is adjacent to the Lehman Caves.

You'll see the beautiful area passing through Wheeler Peak.

You can play frisbee with your dog while grilling barbecue and making friends with the other campers around the area.

The exciting feature of the campground is that you can stay there for up to 14 nights.

You need to be well-stocked if you plan to stay there for long.

Visit the Baker Archaeological Site

View of the Baker Archaeological Site
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The Baker Archaeological Site is a great addition to enhance your experience in the Great Basin area because of its rich lands.

Natural history enthusiasts will particularly love it here because there’s a ton of information to read as you traverse the huge archaeological site.

While you won’t see any prehistoric fossils because everything’s buried and preserved, simply walking on prehistoric soil is an amazing feeling on its own.

Baker Archaeological Site is also a great place to walk your dogs, so try it out.

You can find it along the northern areas of Baker.

Take in the Views at Mather Overlook

View of the Mather Overlook
Kelly vanDellen / Shutterstock.com

No trip would be complete in the Great Basin National Park without visiting one of its several vistas—a good start for you would be at Mather Overlook.

It’s one of the more accessible vistas in the park compared to the more rugged peaks that you’d need more experience in navigating.

Furthermore, this overlook is tailored for the tourist—it has everything you’d want, such as an observation deck, information boards, and even binoculars.

View from the Mather Overlook
Danita Delimont / Shutterstock.com

Mather Overlook may sound easy to reach, but the views you’ll get here are stunning and breathtaking.

A must-see during your trip to the Great Basin, Mather Overlook is accessible via the end of its namesake road.

Vibrant sunset at Mather Overlook
Kelly vanDellen / Shutterstock.com

Spend a Few Nights at Baker Creek Campground

View of the Baker Creek Campground
Kit Leong / Shutterstock.com

Baker Creek Campground is a great place to set camp if you’re looking for a site that works on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Surrounded by huge pine trees, this is a scenic spot where you can enjoy the Great Basin National Park to its fullest potential.

Marmot at Baker Creek Campground
Dominic Gentilcore PhD / Shutterstock.com

There’s a lot of critters and wildlife nearby, but it doesn’t get in the way of the camping experience and makes for a great day time observation activity.

Baker Creek Campground is also huge, offering tons of different campsites that can accommodate various RVs.

You can access this place by driving along Baker Creek Road.

Take Photos of the Lexington Arch

Great Basin National Park is home to a ton of beautiful rock formations and terrains, with Lexington Arch being one of them.

It’s a beautiful and natural rock formation that forms an arch, giving it a scenic appeal that’s perfect for photographers.

To see the Lexington Arch, you’d need to travel to the southern portions of Great Basin National Park and find the Lexington Arch Trailhead.

From there, you can begin your trek where you’ll see lots of rugged terrains and plant life.

One of the best times to see the arch is during the late afternoon, when the sunlight changes its color for a picture-perfect opportunity.

Reach the Pyramid Peak

View of the Pyramid Peak
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If you’re feeling adventurous and ambitious, one of the best places to summit in the Great Basin National Park is the Pyramid Peak.

Named after its pyramid-looking peaks that are almost perfectly triangular, this portion of the national park offers amazing biodiversity as well.

Whether you go during the summers or winters, there’s a lot of flora and fauna as you traverse the trail heading up to the peak.

Stunning sunset at Pyramid Peak
Dominic Gentilcore PhD / Shutterstock.com

Once you’ve reached the top, you’d almost feel like you’re close to the heavens—it’s a breathtaking experience that every mountain climber should do!

Pyramid Peak is located near the trails of Johnson Lake and Baker Lake, making it a great addition to your itinerary.

Final Thoughts

Taking a trip with close friends or family is another way to enjoy nature when you're on vacation.

Planning your vacation will enhance your travel experience significantly.

The Great Basin National Park is just one of many beautiful alternatives to the regular tourist sites that also offer adventure activities.

Horseback riding, camping, hiking, biking, and rock climbing are just a few available activities at the park.

Start planning your Great Basin adventure today!

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