Great Basin National Park

Practicalities
Gorp.com

Weather
This is a fairly arid region, and snow or summer thunderstorms make up most of the precipitation the park receives. Temperatures at the visitor center usually range between 15 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit over the course of the year. In the summer, temperatures rarely go above 90 and nighttime lows range between 40 and 55. Great Basin is a desert with very low relative humidity. Lehman Caves is 50 degrees Fahrenheit and 90 percent humidity year-round.

The park visitor center is at an elevation of 6,825 feet and the surrounding mountains reach 13,000 feet. Snow may come as early as Labor Day or as late as October and may be melted by May or not until late June. Snow is possible any day of the year above 10,000 feet. The summer brings occasional thunderstorms and cool weather to the high country. To better enjoy your visit, come prepared for all types of weather at any time.

Backpackers heading into the backcountry should be especially prepared for highly variable weather conditions. At the elevation of the visitor center (6,825 feet), the weather can be quite warm and pleasant by April. The higher elevation areas, by contrast, are usually snow-bound until late June, including some of the most scenic and inspiring areas for backpacking. At elevations of 10,000 feet and above snow and/or electrical storms can be life-threatening, and can occur any month of the year.

Transportation
The main park entrance is five miles west of Baker, Nevada, near the Nevada-Utah border. Driving distances in miles are:

Las Vegas - 286
Salt Lake City - 234
Reno - 385
Cedar City - 142

The visitor center is open from 7.30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily during the summer. During the winter, it is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST. It is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. Entrance to the park is free.

Supplies
A concessioner operates a cafe and gift shop from April to October. Restaurants, a small grocery store, limited motel accommodations, and gasoline are available in Baker. The nearest cities are Ely, Nevada, 70 miles to the west, and Delta, Utah, 100 miles to the east.

Camping
Four developed campgrounds provide water, restrooms, fire rings, picnic tables and tent pads. Primitive campsites along Strawberry Creek provide tables, tent sites, and pit toilets, but NO water. Only Lower Lehman Campground is open year-round. Other campgrounds and primitive sites are open as snow levels permit. Drinking water is available at the dump station near the visitor center from late spring through early fall.

All park campgrounds are on a first-come, first-served basis; no advance reservations can be made. Campsites cannot be "saved" or reserved for friends or relatives who may be arriving at a later time. Pets must not be left unattended and must be kept on leash (6' or less in length) at all times.

Lower Lehman Creek Campground
Elevation: 7,300 feet (2,200 m); 11 sites; water; pit toilets; a limited number of pull-through sites for small RVs and trailers; 2 1/2 miles (4 km) from the Visitor Center. Open year-round. Water available in summer only.

Upper Lehman Creek Campground
Elevation: 7,800 feet (2,400 m); 24 sites; water; pit toilets; one accessible site; group picnic site available by reservation; 3 miles (5 km) from the Visitor Center. Approximate season opening dates: May through October. Water available in summer only.

Late fall, winter, and early spring weather dictates the availability of campsites and water. For more information on opening and closing dates, call the park at (775) 234-7331.

Baker Creek Campground
Elevation: 7,700 feet (2,350 m); 32 sites; water; pit toilets; 2 accessible sites; 3 miles (5 km) from the Visitor Center. Approximate season opening dates: May through October. Water available in summer only.

Wheeler Peak Campground
Elevation: 9,950 feet (3,000 m); 37 sites; water; pit toilets; 1 accessible site; 12 miles (19 km) from the Visitor Center. Although paved, the road is narrow and curvy and climbs approximately an 8 percent grade over 12 miles. Large RVs and trailers are not recommended. Approximate season opening dates. Late May or early June through September. Water available in summer only.

Accessibility and Special Needs
All four campgrounds have a designated wheelchair-accessible site. The visitor center is wheelchair accessible, as is the first room of Lehman Caves. The staff includes a sign language interpreter. Please call in advance to check on availability.

A parking area is available for buses and RVs at the visitor center. Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive is not recommended for large RVs or buses.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

advertisement

Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »