Great Basin Backcountry

Much of the area within Great Basin National Park is backcountry. Some spots can be accessed via established roads but much of the area can only be explored by people hiking, backpacking or horse packing.

Vehicles are required to stay on designated roads. That includes 4X4 vehicles and bicycles.

Permits are not required for backcountry camping, but people are encouraged to register before staying overnight. Registration is free and provides rescuers with critical information in case of an emergency. Stop at a visitor center or call (775) 234-7331 x 212 for current information on trail conditions and routes.

Below we summarize some backcountry rules. See the park website for more information ( ).

Pets are not allowed in the backcountry.

Hikers and backpackers are advised to carry ample water. Water sources in the backcountry are highly variable from year to year and season to season. Generally, water is abundant during late spring. By late summer, streams and springs can be dry. All water should be treated by boiling or filtering to kill bacteria. Staying hydrated is important when hiking in desert regions. Bring plenty of water and drink it!

Human Waste Disposal
In backcountry and other undeveloped areas, the disposal of human body waste is prohibited within 100 feet of any water source or developed trail. Human waste should be buried in a hole 4-6 inches deep in mineral soil. Toilet paper must be packed out and disposed of in park restroom facilities.

Backcountry camping is not permitted within 1/4 mile of any developed site (i.e. road, building, campground, etc.), within the Wheeler Peak or Lexington Arch Day Use Areas, or in bristlecone pine groves. Camping is prohibited in all parking areas, at trailheads, and along roads (outside of developed campgrounds).

Group Size
Group size is limited to 15 persons and/or 6 pack animals in the backcountry. Larger groups must split into smaller groups within these limits and must camp at least 1/2 mile apart. Larger groups may request an exception to these limits from the Park Superintendent under the terms of a Special Use Permit.

Campfires are not allowed above 10,000 feet. Backcountry users may only use propane stoves above that elevation. Note that both Baker Lake and Johnson Lake, popular backcountry destinations, are above 10,000 feet and campfires are prohibited.

Below 10,000 feet, only dead and down wood (already on the ground) may be collected. Bristlecone pine wood may not be burned, even if dead and down. If conditions warrant, fires may be prohibited throughout the backcountry.

Pack Animals
Horses, llamas and mules are allowed on a few backcountry trails as pack animals. Remember to picket, hobble, or graze animals at least 100 yards from any water source. All packed feed must be certified weed-free.

Elevations in the park range from 6,200 to 13,063 feet, which leads to highly variable weather conditions year round. At elevations of 10,000 feet and higher, snow and/or electrical storms can be life-threatening, and can occur any month of the year. Be prepared for changing conditions.

Persons who wish to smoke while hiking in the backcountry must stop and remain in one location until they have extinguished their smoking material. All smoking material must be packed out and disposed of in an appropriate trash receptacle.

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