From the sagebrush at its alluvial base to the 13,063-foot summit of Wheeler Peak, Great Basin National Park includes streams, lakes, alpine plants, abundant wildlife, a variety of forest types including groves of ancient bristlecone pines, and numerous limestone caverns, including beautiful Lehman Caves.
So arrives the season full of activity. Temperatures are comfortable with highs around 85 F and lows 55 F at 6,825 ft above sea level. Even the yellow-bellied rock marmots who hibernate nine months out of the year reveal themselves to sunbathe on rocky outcrops. Fishermen practice their angler skills in creeks. Hikers enjoy moderate to strenuous hikes early in the day to avoid common afternoon thunderstorms. As darkness falls, anticipation arises for another activity: connecting with the night sky. Stargazers enjoy the best visibility of the Milky Way in the Continental United States.
When autumn arrives, Great Basin National Park shows its colors, with groves of aspen trees dotting the mountains in hues of yellow and gold. The air is cool and crisp, uncrowded trails beg to be explored, and pine nuts are ready for picking. Great Basin National Park takes some effort to get to, but those who make the journey reap the rewards: spacious campsites, friendly and available staff, and the company of the oldest trees on Earth, the bristlecone pines.
When winter arrives in Great Basin National Park you experience the true meaning of solitude and silence. Frost delicately ornaments blades of grass along stream beds as water gently runs under sheets of ice. As snow accumulates on mountain peaks, mule deer begin their seasonal migration patterns, moving down to lower elevations. With the arrival of fresh powder brings the anticipation of winter recreation. Trails and roads are explored by a few adventurous visitors on skis and snowshoes. Just when you think you are alone, a series of paw prints in the snow provide alluring signs of an animal that was recently in that same place. With practice, using a guide book, you will be able to identify a wide range of tracks and patterns.
With the arrival of the spring season comes a new beginning. The gradually warming temperatures awaken rock squirrels, and other critters, from their long sleep reminding them to forage. Even though days in the valley may be hot, there is generally snow pack in the high elevations. With the gradual melting of snow, streams dance down the mountain. Diversity explodes. Bouquets of prickly-pear cacti, Indian paintbrush, and globe mallow begin to dot the desert with shades of yellow, pink, red, and orange.