Great Basin National Park
Great Basin National park is home to 5,000-year-old bristlecone pine trees and has one of the darkest skies in the country.
Discover the beauty of main attractions, and you can even attend astronomy events.
This cave system is composed of beautiful marble caverns that offers outstanding opportunity to view and study cave features including stalactites, stalagmites, helictites, flowstone and popcorn. The caverns contain over 300 shield formations, which are rare in other caves.
Lehman Caves may only be entered with a guided tour. Cave tours are offered daily, year round, except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. Park rangers lead all tours, explaining the history, ecology, and geology of the caves.
Three different guided tours are offered. Reservations are strongly recommended in the summer months, as well as over holiday weekends. Reservations may be made in person at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center or in advance (strongly recommended) at recreation.gov.
Lodge Room Tour
The Lodge Room Tour is approximately 60 minutes long and extends 0.4 miles, making it ideal for families with young children. Tour highlights include the Gothic Palace, Music Room, and Lodge Room sections of Lehman Caves. Each tour is limited to 20 visitors.
Grand Palace Tour
Grand Palace Tour is approximately 90 minutes long and travels 0.6 miles. Children must be at least 5 years old to join the Grand Palace Tour. This tour visits the Gothic Palace, the Music Room, the Lodge Room, Inscription Room, and the Grand Palace sections of Lehman Caves. It including a chance to view the famous "Parachute Shield" formation. The tour is limited to 20 visitors.
Tickets are required for cave tours, and may be purchased in person at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center or in advance at recreation.gov.
Tickets may be purchased up to 30 days in advance. All tickets must be paid for at the time of purchase. Major credit cards are accepted for phone orders.
Infants and toddlers are free (only allowed on the Lodge Room Tour). Visit recreation.gov for current prices for all others. Interagency Senior and Access passes provide discounts.
The mountain is massive, with a summit elevation of 13,063 feet. It is the highest point in the Great Basin, and the second highest peak in the state of Nevada.
Roads wind up toward the peak from several directions. From the end of the paved Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, it is a relatively easy 8.6 round trip hike to the summit (2,620 foot elevation gain). Of the impressive peaks in the Western US, Wheeler is one of the easiest to summit.
Jutting up from the surrounding desert, Wheeler Peak cuts through a wide assortment of ecological zones, with representative plants ranging from sage on the valley floor to pinyon/juniper to bristlecone to alpine wildflowers.
The mountain shelters a wide variety of animal life and it is common to see wildlife here. In this area biologists have counted 73 species of mammals, 18 species of reptiles, 238 species of birds and 8 species of fish. It is a remarkable area.
Mule deer migrate up and down the mountain, searching for forage and staying away from deep winter snow. Deer are often seen on the mountain, and surrounding winter ranges.
Wheeler Peak is very scenic and offers a wide assortment of recreational opportunities. It is a great destination.
Bristlecone Pine Trees
Ancient bristlecone pine trees are a major attraction in Great Basin National Park. Some of the trees are thought to be over 5,000 years old and are considered to be among the oldest living things on earth.
The trees are amazing. The old trees are gnarled, with broken limbs and contorted shapes. They grow on rocky ridges just below the tree line, where they are exposed to harsh conditions. They grow slowly and the wood is very dense.
Some seeds are occasionally carried down to lower elevations, where conditions would seem to be more favorable. Trees in those locations grow more rapidly, but they do not reach the advanced age or develop the fascinating twisted shapes that make the species legendary.
An easy hiking trail on Wheeler Peak allows park visitors to walk into the ancient bristlecone forest.
Park regulations are drafted to protect the trees and visitors are asked to treat them with respect. Don't climb on them or twist or break off branches.