The Great Basin of the American west is a colossal stretch of land, spanning more than two-thirds of Arizona, as well as portions of Utah, Idaho, Oregon and California. This mixing bowl of countless ecosystems and landscapes is home to some of the most unique plant- and wildlife in the world. It’s also home to Great Basin National Park, where eclectic landscape comes with the territory.
At Great Basin National Park, you’re likely to encounter at least two distinct biospheres, one of which is an arid wasteland consistent with the low-elevation desert typical of Nevada, the other is made up of high mountain peaks that experience teeth chattering cold snaps for much of the year. In both of these regions, rainfall is limited to a brief period of the year, when natural lakes are formed and then dry up once more as brutal summer sets in. At Great Basin National Park, you could say the desert is a little different.
Exploring Great Basin National Park
Hugging the eastern border of Nevada and located just 200 miles north of Las Vegas, Great Basin National Park is an unforgiving territory, where hikers venture out at their own risk and frigid temperatures on Wheeler Peak are a little more biting because of the dry mountain air. For those who wish to trek into the wild, Wheeler Peak Grove offers up a series of bristlecone pine trees, which are recorded as the oldest living trees on Earth, still standing after nearly 5,000 growing cycles.
Lastly, if you’d prefer to stay in the cool and the shade, you can take the plunge into Lehman Caves, where you’ll discover highly ornate rock formations left behind by centuries of erosion. With such a wide range of ecosystems built into one, it’s understandable why adventurers consider Great Basin National Park “a desert with a difference.”