Great Basin National Park was established in the year I was born, 1986. The park has 2 visitor centers: one right near the highway and the other near the Lehman Caves. The park is most notable for the caves in addition to their grove of Bristlecone Pines, which are thousands of years old! The cave tours cost $8-$10, so we decided to do some hiking instead.
It took about 2.5 hours to get there from Fillmore. The drive was full of shrubs and hills or mountains in the distance. It was not the most exciting thing to see after spending the past few days in red rock land of canyons and mesas. But at least there weren’t any deer popping onto the road today.
Great Basin, like Capitol Reef National Park, did not even require a fee upon entry. It was strange to see 2 national parks in a row that don’t ask for your pass. Oh well. The visitor center near the Lehman Caves has a lovely gift shop/cafe. We grabbed sandwiches to go from there, which provided chips as well. Tasty sandwiches. I didn’t get to enjoy mine because of a bit of altitude sickness, or perhaps stomach virus?
The trailhead for Bristlecone Pines is at about 9,800 feet (2,990 km). And the trail to the Bristlecone self guided loop trail is 2.8 miles (4.6 km) round-trip. If one wants to continue past the grove and the tree-line, they can head to the only glacier in Nevada that nestles beneath Wheeler Peak for a total of 4.6 miles (7.4 km) round trip (including the Bristlecone trail). We had enough after Bristlecone. It was kind of hard to take photos of the trees because you had to stay on the trail and it just weaved back and forth between the magnificent trees. So awesome to feel how the bark is completely polished by the elements (wind, ice, snow, rain, etc). And if they die, they just erode – they do not rot! One of the trees on the self guided trail had been dead for like 200 years and it was still pretty big and in tact.
On the way back, I went on the Alpine Lakes trail. This is a loop trail, but I only went for 0.1 miles to Teresa Lake. It was beautiful. If I had more time and was feeling better, I would have continued on the Alpine Lakes loop trail. Once we got back to the parking lot, the aspen was beautifully lit. I think aspen are like my favorite trees.
We headed to our hotel in Ely along highway 50. We drove by some beautiful windmills in this valley/basin. And we made it to our hotel before dark, and with no deer in the way. SCORE!