Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park is located in the Snake Range in east-central Nevada not too far from the Utah-Nevada state line. The route I took to the park was Nevada State Route 487 from US Hwys 6/50 to Baker, then NV SR 488 into the park. The park started as a national monument in 1922 and became a national park in October of 1986. The park is noted for Wheeler Peak (second highest mountain in Nevada), the Lehman Caves, and its bristlecone pine groves. It's also an excellent park for backpacking and backcountry camping.

I made my first trip to Great Basin at the beginning of June, 2019. I'm going to call it a reconnaissance trip since I was only there 2 nights. The road to Wheeler Peak was only open as far as Mather Overlook so I didn't get to the Peak or the bristlecone pine groves. I also didn't tour Lehman Caves or take any extended hikes. Oh well, lots to do next time. Great Basin is an International Dark Sky Park so I took my telescope. However, the park can't guarantee clear skies and it was cloudy both nights I was there, so no stargazing.

Great Basin Visitor Center

The Great Basin Visitor Center is located just off Nevada State Route 487 in Baker, NV. It's about 5 miles from the actual park entrance. The visitor center has a small museum and bookstore.

Visitor Center sign

Great Basin Visitor Center

Neat pavillion

Visitor center entrance

Information desk

Bristlecone Pine sculpture

Into the Park

The first thing I did once in the park was check out the Lehman Caves Visitor Center, which is where the cave tours originate. The tours require reservations. There is a small cafe (Great Basin Cafe) located in the visitor center. The park has 4 developed campgrounds that are absolutely terrific for tent camping but not so much for RVs, especially over 24 feet. The best RV campground is Baker Creek (a few pullthroughs, no hookups). Everyone's favorite campground seems to be Wheeler Peak, but it was closed. I had reservations for campsite #21 at Upper Lehman Creek Campground, and the site was fantastic.

Park sign

Wheeler Peak

Lehman Caves Visitor Center

Lehman Caves Visitor Center

Rhodes cabin - moved and restored

Rhodes cabin interior

In the 1880s the good folk of Osceola came up with a plan to get rich with a ditch. They would divert water from Lehman Creek to wash away the mountainside and expose the gold buried underneath. Fools in search of fools gold.

Osceola Ditch interpretive sign

Osceola ditch?

Osceola ditch?

Wheeler Peak
View from Mather Overlook

Terrain near Mather Overlook

Campsite #21 - before

Campsite #21 - after

My venerable VE-24

Lehman Creek

View from campsite

Mule Deer munching the meadow

Snake Creek Road

Snake Creek Road is a gravel road that enters the southern portion of Great Basin National Park and ends near the Strawberry trail trailhead. There are dispersed primitive campsites along the way that have picnic tables and firepits. There is also the occasional vault toilet. The road can be accessed from NV SR 487 at the really small town of Garrison, or from a cutoff about 2 miles north of the town. When I drove the road there were lots of colorful wildflowers along it, the names of which I know not.

Wheeler Peak

Park sign

Interesting rock formations

Snake Creek road

Purple wildflowers

Serviceberry trailhead sign

Serviceberry trail

Yellow wildflowers

The advent of World War I produced sharp increases in the price of tungsten which was needed for the war effort. John Tilford found promising ore in Snake Canyon and started the Bonita tungsten mine. The mine became a family affair with about 40 miners and their families at its peak. The price of tungsten dropped at the end of the war and the mine was slowly abondoned over the next few years.

Bonita Mine interpretive sign

Bonita Mine interpretive sign

Bonita Mine building ruins

Restored 100 year old cabin

Cabin interior

All that's left

Snake Creek

Snake Creek

Pale lavender-white wildflowers

Lupine? Larkspur?

Rock formation

Some kind of phlox?

Bonus - Spring Creek Fish Rearing Station

Welcome to the Nevada State Spring Creek Rearing Station, located just off Snake Creek Road. This facility does not hatch fish, but instead raises the Rainbow trout until they are large enough for release, typically 9-12 inches. The station had a linear series of rearing tanks and the trout got larger moving downstream from one tank to the next. The part I liked best was the large pumping apparatus that sucked up the mature fish and loaded them into a specially designed truck for transport to the various lakes and reservoirs.


Rearing tanks and spillways


More fish

Rainbow trout 6-9"

Fish collection equipment

"load em up, ship em out"

Use the form on the Home Page to submit comments, questions, or suggestions.  TD Productions Copyright © 2019