Dreaming of your next RV road trip? Instead of heading to one of the country’s most famous and crowded National Parks, why not do something a little different? This park is one of the least visited national parks in the entire US, but don’t let that put you off.
It may be less visited, but that sure doesn’t mean this park lacks stunning natural beauty or things to do. It has both in abundance. What’s more, the park is perfect to go RVing and surround yourself with some beautiful nature and wildlife while at the same time having all the creature comforts of home.
Enter – The Great Basin National Park. In this guide, we are going to discover everything the park has to offer, from things to do, when to go, and where to camp; we have a lot to get through, so let’s dive in.
Located in Eastern Nevada, The Great Basin National Park is made up of mountains and valleys and includes lakes, rivers, and spectacular scenery. The park is also home to an abundance of wildlife, including shrews, beavers, and porcupines, and if you’re lucky, you may even spot bears.
Spread over 77,000 acres, this vast national park is so spread out that you likely won’t have to deal with any crowds and it gives you the chance to enjoy its spoils on your own. The park includes the South Snake Mountains and the second highest peak in the whole of Nevada, Wheeler Peak.
Throughout the park, you’ll be able to take part in the many activities available here. From exploring caves, embarking on epic hikes, and enjoying some of the world’s darkest skies for stargazing. So when’s the best time to go RV’ing and check all this out?
Expect Dramatic Weather Shifts Through The Seasons
You can visit the Great Basin National Park at any time of year. However, the weather is drastically different depending on the season. During winter, many of the higher elevation roads are closed due to snow and ice, and while you’ll have low crowds, temperatures frequently drop below freezing. So make sure you wrap up. At this time of year, you’ll still be able to enjoy amazing hiking and even cross country skiing throughout the park.
In the shoulder seasons of Spring and fall, crowds are thin, meaning you’ll be able to check out the sights and partake in activities with little to no one else around you. This time of year also boasts spectacular natural colors.
During summer, when the park is at its busiest, it is still nothing when compared to the numbers parks such as Yosemite and Death Valley receive. But this time of year offers the most pleasant weather and most activities to do. However, be wary of storms in the afternoon as this occurs almost daily. Be sure to start any hikes early.
So what exactly is there to see and do, and what can’t you afford to miss when RVing in Great Basin National Park?
Great Basin boasts an array of epic activities and things to see, and there’s no better way to see them than renting an RV and hitting the open road.
Wheeler Park Scenic Drive
This beautiful 12-mile stretch of road is a must-do for any visit to this national park. Winding around the mountains; the drive will reward you with stunning views over valleys and neighboring mountains.
Make sure you stop at the Mather overlook; the views and photos you’ll get there is nothing short of spectacular. You don’t want to go home without the Instagram worth shots, right?
One of the main reasons to visit the Great Basin as there are so many hikes to do here and far too many to do in one trip. Hiking is second to none here, and although there are too many hikes to list in just this one post, we have narrowed it down to some of our favorites.
Before doing any hike in The Great Basin, be sure to check-in and register at the visitor center to inform park rangers of your planned route. While not essential, it always pays to be cautious when hiking in such a vast national park.
- Bristlecone trail – Bristlecone trail is an awesome hike, and you’ll feel like you’re immersed in nature. Taking you to an elevation of 9800ft, you can even carry on past the end of this trail to reach the only glacier in Nevada. While this glacier doesn’t look like one in the traditional sense, it’s spectacular nonetheless.
- Wheeler Peak Summit – This challenging but rewarding hike takes you from an elevation of 10,000 to 13,000ft and certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted. Tackle this climb, and you’ll be rewarded with stunning views unrivaled anywhere in the park. Wheeler Peak is the second-highest peak in Nevada, and climbing it is unsurprisingly extremely tough. Close to the peak, the hike turns to climb, and you’ll need to scramble to reach the top. Be careful of strong winds, cold weather, and afternoon storms during the summer. Always inform the visitors center if you plan on hiking this trail.
Many freshwater streams and lakes are spread throughout the Great Basin. Making for fantastic fishing opportunities while also giving you the chance to get amongst nature with no one else around you. You’ll be able to catch various species of trout but be sure to know where you can and can’t fish in the park as the national park protects and limits fishing throughout the entire area.
Another awesome attraction you simply need to visit. You won’t be able to wander into these caves and explore by yourself, so you’ll need to hire a guide. This way, you’ll get to experience Lehman’s Caves with expert guidance and safety knowledge to make it enjoyable.
Discovered in 1885 by a minor from Ohio, these caves boast stalagmites and stalactites, which are simply awe-inspiring. A must-do for any visitor to Great Basin National Park.
Stargazing in Great Basin National Park attracts visitors from all over the world and is one of the park’s main attractions. The park is a dark sky reserve and enjoys some of the darkest skies in the world.
If you’re an avid stargazer, you won’t be disappointed here. Due to the high elevation and mostly clear skies, you can check out the milky way and see planets and galaxies with the naked eye.
Rest At RV-Friendly Campsites in Great Basin
There is an abundance of RV-friendly campsites through the Great Basin, and hiring an RV to check out this vast national park is by far the best way to fully experience the place.
Upper & Lower Lehman Creek
The national park-controlled campsites of Upper and Lower Lehman Creek are great places to camp with an RV. With 7500ft of elevation, and Upper Lehman’s positions, you are mere minutes from Lehman’s Cave, and camping here surrounds you with wildlife and an awesome natural setting. You’ll also be able to stargaze from the comfort of your RV. Hikes and scenic drives are also easily accessible from this location.
Lower Lehmans is a basic campground with no showers but includes toilets and is a first-come-first-served campground. However, in summer, you will need to reserve your pitch.
Next to a small creek, this campsite puts you right on the water and has plenty of RV-friendly pitches. There’s so much space here that you won’t find yourself too close to other campers. Perfect to view the stars and enjoy the spoils of nature with little to no one else around you.
Camping Tips for Great Basin
Take Everything With You
Because of the remote location and the park’s nearest town of Baker having limited facilities at best, make sure you take ALL the supplies you need for your trip. This includes food, clothing, and extra fuel. You want to be completely self-sufficient as there are little to no facilities/amenities once in the park.
Even during summer, the clear nights here mean this park gets very cold at night, so make sure you bring enough blankets and warm clothing to keep you warm. Even if you think it’s not necessary, it’s certainly better to have and not need than need and not have.
Phone Reception Is Limited
Although you will find a phone signal in some parts of the park, especially near the top and in Baker, most of the park has little to no reception, so plan accordingly and get any work calls and emails done beforehand.
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Great Basin National Park is a hidden gem of outdoor splendor. You now know that Great Basin has more than enough to offer and can provide road trip memories to last a lifetime.
With amazing wildlife, beautiful natural scenery, great climate, hiking, fishing, and stargazing, you’ll never be bored in Great Basin National Park. There are also some epic campgrounds suitable for RVs, and if you’re looking for an RV rental, you can find the best RV rental deals on the market. Contact RVnGO and search the RVs available across the United States. Let’s make your cruise America road trip one to remember.
Pack plenty of water, sun screen and hats! Read more about what to pack for any road trip in our packing checklist.