Hidden Gem in Nevada: Great Basin National Park

5 miles west of Baker on NV-488, by way of NV-487 and US-50, Nevada You know you’re headed to one

5 miles west of Baker on NV-488, by way of NV-487 and US-50, Nevada

You know you’re headed to one of the country’s least visited national parks when you realize your car is almost the only one on the desert road that leads you there (US-50 is known as "the loneliest road in America"). And what do you see once you arrive? More desert. But don’t be fooled: The park is not only alive with flora and fauna but is home to some of the oldest living plants on Earth. On Wheeler Peak (13,063 feet) a 12-mile scenic drive takes you to rocky glacial moraines on which grow Great Basin bristlecone pines—small, gnarled trees that took root almost 5,000 years ago.

Great Basin National Park, Nevada
A dead bristlecone pine of the type found only in the Great Basin lays bare the sculpture of a tree thousands of years old.

Down in Lexington Canyon the limestone Lexington Arch rises as high as a six-story building. Beneath the desert Lehman Caves is a cool refuge full of amazing sights. Sixty and ninety-minute cave tours are offered; the longest (and best) is the ninety-minute half-mile journey that winds past formations ranging from the expected stalactites and stalagmites to elegant, rippling drapery and rare shields—disk-shaped formations with streamers of flowstone.

Near the cave entrance is a picnic area, café, and visitors center. The center supplies information about the wealth of hiking, riding, and camping options in a vast park full of surprises.

Open year-round except holidays. Café and gift shop open Apr.–Oct. Admission charged.

www.nps.gov/grba
(775) 234-7331

Originally Published in Reader's Digest

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