Great Basin National Park, “a vast region of sagebrush-covered valleys and narrow mountain ranges named for its lack of drainage”, is located in the central eastern section of the state. “It’s streams and rivers mostly find no outlet to the sea, and water collects in shallow salt lakes, marshes, and mud flats to evaporate in dry desert air.” When we arrived at the park, one campground was closed and the other two were full.
This is becoming the norm as of late. Just outside of the park is the very small town of Baker. We were able to find a “full hook up” site in the parking lot of the only gas station in town. Kerouac’s Restaurant owns the only motel in town, StarGazer Inn, as well as the parking lot which has six full hookup sites.
The next day, we left Baker at 5,318 elevation and drove into Great Basin National Park to the Bristlecone-Alpine Lake trailhead. The hike begins at 10,000’ elevation. A lot of this trail was rocky.
We turned around and took the loop for the Bristlecone trees that we passed on the way. It is said that many of these gnarled trees date to more than 3,000 years old, alive since before the days of the Roman Empire, Cleopatra, or Alexander the Great. Their branches look like bristles on a brush.
The trail continued to Lake Teresa and then Lake Stella. In all, we hiked 6.96 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,367’.
For those afraid of heights, you can drive on Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive for some great views of Wheeler Peak. As hikers, we chose to take the fun way up. We hiked 8.7 miles to the peak at 13,063’ in six hours and 40 minutes, with a total elevation gain of 2,821’. The majority of the trail is rocky.
I am glad that I made it to the summit. There is something very rewarding when you make it through a grueling hike. And, I am really happy when hiking back down! Next stop, Las Vegas baby!