It’s the Grate Basin! OK, not that Grate Basin. Of course this is not the National Park Service approved sign, nor the proper spelling.
Let’s try this one instead! That looks better.
We’re headed out for 2 months in Idaho and California, including 5 new (to us) National Parks. On the way north, a quick overnight “camping” … Las Vegas style!
Great Basin NP is about 300 miles north of Vegas, in the middle of absolutely nowhere. It’s “gateway” town of Baker, NV is a tiny but highly entertaining postage stamp of a town.
Yup! That’s the entire town. But what they lack in amenities, they make up for in sense of humor.
Great Basin NP is a newer national park, primarily in place to protect access to the Lehman Caves, a singular cave that doesn’t explain the “s” on the end. But, the cave/caves were closed and no tours being given, thanks for nothing, Stupid Covid. We’ll just have to make our own entertainment!
The other thing Great Basin is known for is its groves of ancient Bristlecone Pine Trees. Born before Jesus … to be here long after you!
Bristlecones live high up where the air is thin and nutrients are sparse, ’cause they’re fighters like that. To get to where they live, you gotta go up, up, up, via a 15-mile long scenic road that takes you to 10,500 feet elev.
I thought upgrade was something you get when you check in to a Reno hotel, but no, it’s the other kind of upgrade, that takes you from 96 degrees F at the bottom to 69 degrees F at the top, a digit transposition to get excited about in the middle of summer.
Is that snow in the distance? Yup! It’s the middle of August, but in Great Basin, that’s to be expected. Hiking trails are only open for a few months during summer because of thick snow the rest of the year.
In fact, Great Basin NP has its very own glacier, at least for the next 20 years or so. After that, it will probably go the way of N*Sync’s fame … bye, bye, bye.
This screenshot shows the “basin” of Great Basin and how Wheeler Peak, its highest point at 13,063 feet elevation, is smack dab in the middle, rising from the desert floor.
There are just a few hiking trails here (compared to, say Zion or Arches), but they include a difficult 8.2 miles to the of Wheeler Peak; a moderate 4.6 miles leading to a bristlecone pine grove and then on to a view of the glacier;
and another moderate 2.7 miles looping you by two alpine lakes, Stella and Teresa.
Local wildlife generally consists of furry little low-riders.
But signs of REALLY wild local wildlife also exist here. Don’t ask who …. just ask why …. ?!
You know that Great Basin gets far fewer visitors than other National Parks, when the shared telescopes haven’t even been wrapped in crime scene tape to keep the Covid cooties away.
Even the mountains in the background are giving Covid the finger.
Being far-far-far from everything and everyone, Great Basin is a terrific Dark Sky locale.
The road leading from Baker to Great Basin is lined with hilarious and clever art installations.
Pop quiz: What is the tallest mountain in this area?
It’s “Wheeler Peek” …. get it??
Too esoteric? Okay.
Try this one instead.
Back in town, more artistic wonders await.
Even their rain gutters are artistically installed!
Forget about the Tiny Houses movement … who wants to join the Pullman Train Car Houses movement with me!
But back to that Baker sense of humor …….
Two town strays dogs, Snowball and Waffles, claim to be Mayor and Sheriff, respectively …
but everyone here knows those titles actually belong to Bob Wire …
… and his wife, Barb Wire.
Though it may seem like a crappy little outpost, Baker clearly has its finger on the pulse of America, asking the question we all want to know right now!
We only had a couple days here, but Baker and Great Basin, we wuvvvvv you!
On to Idaho!