I am a die-hard believer in Bucket Lists, the act of writing something down with every intention of crossing it off, completing the task at hand. A bucket list holds me accountable to my dreams and goals, the scrawl on paper feels like a script on my heart. My bucket list includes hundreds of places to visit, dozens of activities, and small personal feats of creativity. One large bucket list item is to visit all 59 US National Parks. Great Basin National Park is a commonly forgotten park, located in the little visited state of Nevada (other than Las Vegas). We made the trip out to Great Basin over a three day weekend this past summer and loved every moment of it.
Great Basin National Park is located in the basin between the Wasatch Range and the Sierra Nevada. The mountains and hills of the park stand is stark contrast to the desert flatland of the surrounding area. It is home to the ancient bristlecone pines, a species with the oldest nonclonal organism known to date, a 5000 year old pine, that was located at the base of Wheeler Peak.
We camped at Baker Creek Campground after circling every other campground in the park for empty spots with no avail. Baker Creek was perfect in its own way, quieter and more peaceful than the other campgrounds packed with RVs and loads of kids. Other than the Mojave green rattlesnake at our campsite, all was well.
The park is home to marmots, jackrabbits, squirrels and various other small mammals, along with larger mammals like the cougar. The lower elevations are dotted with sagebrush and juniper which become more sparse towards the alpine regions, where aspen and ponderosa pines take over.
We hiked the easier Alpine Lakes Trail, a three mile trail through timber pines and spruce trees that circles around to Stella Lake and Teresa Lake. We also hiked the majority of Wheeler Summit Trail, an 8.5 mile trail to the top of 13,000 foot Wheeler Peak. We opted out of the final scramble out of fatigue and hunger, not for lack of incredible views.
Great Basin National Park surprised us in the best of ways. We are always suckers for alpine lakes and breathtaking peaks, and the tranquil nature of a less visited park allowed for a peaceful and relaxing weekend.