Posted by: cstrohmeyer | July 31, 2008

Great Basin National Park

GREAT BASIN NATIONAL PARK; Lehman Caves (Nevada)

Great Basin National Park is a more remote spot that I first discovered while camping in 1984 before it became a National Park in 1986. Previously the campgrounds were part of the National Forest system while only Lehman Caves (est. 1922) was operated by the National Park system as a National Monument.

My first trip I visited the area while traveling south on US Highway 93 with a jog to the east on US 50. In subsequent trips I generally have visited the park while traveling from Utah on US 50 towards Reno and California.
I often have reached Great Basin while leaving Bryce Canyon for points west (often returning home to Grants Pass Oregon) by picking up Utah Highway 21 until it intersects US 50.
For more about Grants Pass:
Grants Pass Information

This park is one of the more interesting I have visited since it sits like an oasis in the middle of an arid “nowhere”. Baker Nevada is the closest town just a few miles to the east, while Las Vegas is a considerable distance at 290 miles, Reno is 400 miles, and Salt Lake City is 245 miles is from Great Basin National Park.

Lehman Caves, Great Basin National Park I really enjoy Great Basin National Park for its surprising beauty and even for its remoteness, although the remoteness has been somewhat of a drawback of late due to our very unreliable RV that breaks down every single vacation.
Lehman Caves are easily visited from the Visitor Center (which has a small gift shop and Café) and these caves are famous for its rare shield formations. Over 300 shields are known in Lehman Caves (more than any other cave).

Click here for another picture of the cave showing the shields (the picture is somewhat dark):
“Lehman Caves; Shields”

Stella Lake, Great Basin National Park, Nevada, Wheeler Peak Wheeler Peak is one of the highest points in Nevada at 13,063 ft. and the highest point in the Snake Range of Eastern Nevada (second highest in Nevada). I believe that the only active Glacier in the Great Basin is found on Wheeler Peak and as well several Glacial Lakes such as Stella Lake can be found here as well. Wheeler Peak is also known for its groves of ancient bristlecone pines, the oldest known non-clonal organisms. Spruce and limber pines can also be found on Wheeler Peak.

 

Lehman Creek, Great Basin National Park, Eastern Nevada Two beautiful Creeks; Lehman and Baker Creek drain the park and both have beautiful vegetation around them including my favorite tree the Aspen. Lehman Creek runs right through Upper and Lower Lehman Campgrounds (often splitting into more than one branch with small river islands).

The elevation near the Visitor Center and two Lehman Creek Campgrounds is just under 8000 feet, which makes for a cool climate even in the warmest summer months with cool nights often dipping into the 40s in the middle of summer and highs generally in the low 80s (or less) for day time highs.
Temperatures are cooler yet in the Wheeler peak area with snow up there never out of the question even in July/August and Thunderstorms also a possibility as well at any elevation in the park.

Another aspect of this park (and surrounding area) are the beautiful and crystal clear nights where you can see more stars than imaginable due to the low humidity, high elevation and pollution free air (including light pollution). I have read that daytime visibility here is among the best in the USA as often 200 mile distances can be seen.

 

CAMPING

Lower Lehman Campground, Great Basin National Park There are four developed campgrounds in the park; Lower Lehman Creek, Upper Lehman, Baker Creek and Wheeler Peak.

The two Lehman Creek campgrounds are the most centrally located and accessible, and of these two the Lower Lehman is the easiest for most RVs while the Upper Lehman is a bit more scenic.

Wheeler Peak is probably the most scenic, however the road up to this campground at 10,000 feet is very steep and not advisable for vehicles over 24 feet in total length.
Baker Creek campground is also accessible for many RVs, however it is more distant from most attraction and on a gravel road. All campgrounds are first come, first served with no reservations.
A dump station is available near the Visitor Center (only a couple miles from Lower Lehman Campground).

More Campground Information

*Lower Lehman:
• 11 campsites for RVs up to 40 feet with pull throughs
• Vault toilets
• Piped Water
• Paved Road
• Picnic tables and fire grills

*Upper Lehman:
• 24 campsites for RVs up to 24 feet
• Vault toilets
• Piped Water
• Paved Road
• Picnic tables and fire grills

*Baker Creek:
• 34 campsites for RVs up to 40 feet with pull throughs
• Vault toilets
• Piped Water
• Paved Road
• Picnic tables and fire grills
• 3 miles from Visitor Center

*Wheeler Peak:
• 37 campsites for RVs up to 24 feet with pull throughs
• Vault toilets
• Piped Water
• Paved Road
• Picnic tables and fire grills
• 6 miles from Visitor Center

Map of Great Basin National Park, please click to enlarge:
Map of Great Basin National Park
“Map of Great Basin National Park”

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Responses

  1. Great Post!

    I visited this placed in 1984 with my brother in law and sister.

    I rained a lot during my visit, so we could not see much, but the caves were cool and when it cleared, the lack of light pollution did indeed make for a spectacular night sky!


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