Once again, we realized we could take a “short” side trip, “not too far out of our way” on our drive from Vegas to Salt Lake City. So we visited Great Basin National Park in Eastern Nevada!
Great Basin is now our 7th national park of this summer’s road trip. We certainly did not see all we wanted to see. Typically, we like to explore parks to the fullest—hike every trail, see every view—and we didn’t get to do this with Great Basin since we were there less than 24 hours. But, this is a park we not only need to return to, but want to!
Great Basin has a mix of attractions above ground and below ground.
The underground world is Lehman Caves, a single cavern with a few rooms to explore. We took the 90-minute Grand Palace tour that gets you as far into the cave as you can go.
J & I seem to be cave junkies. If there is a cave, we must explore it. We’ve only been in 9 or so caves, which isn’t really a lot considering there are 170+ commercial caves throughout the U.S. But they all seem to mesmerize us.
Typically, it’s the same old thing–stalagmites, stalagtites, popcorn, draperies and a few other formations. But we learned a few new cave vocabulary words in Lehman. One is a shield, which is rare and unexplained in caves. It’s almost like a flattened, circular plate. I found it to be particularly fascinating.
Besides cave exploring, there are high mountains to climb, alpine lakes to view and bristlecone pine trees (the oldest living trees!!) to marvel. We stayed overnight at the Wheeler Peak Campground, up at 9,886 feet and only did the 2.7-mile Alpine Lakes Trail. Justin really wanted to climb to the top of Wheeler Peak (13,063 feet), but in the interest of time, we couldn’t (do you sense my disappointment?).