The beauty and awe of Great Basin National Park never fail to charm its visitors. With stunning mountainous terrain, luscious alpine forests, millions-of-years-old caves, and a host of diverse wildlife, the desert park is truly a spectacular playground for outdoorsy adventurers. What's more, it's also a rich environment for history buffs; despite being one of the youngest official national parks in the whole of the USA, Great Basin's eons of historic wonder goes back far before humans ever existed.

First starting out underwater and followed by millennia of glaciers carving out the lands, it wasn't until tens of thousands of years ago that indigenous tribes first called the 77,100-acre Nevada park home. Since then, stories of Native American communities and old western settlers flow through the Great Basin and its vast entirety, leaving no lack of fascinating artifacts, cultural remnants, and heritage for today's travelers to appreciate and admire. So, before visiting this sensational park, consider learning about some of its incredible facts - facts that will hopefully inspire the mind and further enrich that future trip.

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12 Thousands Of Years Of Human History

Throughout the many millennia, Great Basin National Park has been inhabited by various communities of people. The latest historic humans were the miners, fur trappers, farmers, and prospectors of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries - but these folks were actually very late to the party. The park's very first residents were who archaeologists refer to as the Paleo-Indians, who resided in Great Basin over 12,000 years ago.

11 Fremont Communities Once Occupied The Park

From around 1000 to 1300 AD, the historic Fremont People inhabited Great Basin National Park, where they left behind abundant evidence of their past residence. Even today, visitors can view amazing rock art and paintings made by Fremont communities in the Upper Pictograph Cave. Plus, there's an excavated Fremont village on display at Baker Archaeological Site, allowing intrigued visitors a unique insight into their way of life.

10 The Discovery Of Lehman Caves

The famous Lehman Caves were discovered by Absalom Lehman - a rancher and miner from Ohio who moved to the area in the 1860s. Many accounts of his life allege he discovered the caves in 1885 and apparently would offer stalactites from the cave as gifts to family and friends whenever we went back home to visit.

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9 The Great Basin Is Older Than You Think

The park's landscapes and its legendary Lehman Caves are older than one probably thinks. In actual fact, they started forming between two to five million years ago - a mind-boggling number to say the least. Fascinatingly, the landscape at the time was underwater; it was covered by a shallow ocean home to myriads of marine species. Over time, the limestone that makes up most of the Great Basin was formed by the accumulation of dead aquatic creatures and shells, which built up on the sea bed over many millions of years.

8 Glaciers Galore

The majority of Great Basin National Park's dramatic landscapes were carved out by glaciers over thousands upon thousands of years - and some of them are still present today for visitors to marvel at. One of the most famous glaciers in the park is the Lehman rock glacier - a huge collection of boulders amassed and glued together by ice. It's visible from both the Glacier Trail and the Summit Trail and is one of the mighty glaciers that formed the park over 10,000 years prior. Another one of the park's original glaciers is also present at Lehman Cirque, which is just above Lehman rock glacier.

7 The World's Oldest Trees

Great Basin is home to some of the oldest trees on the entire planet - many of which live on the rugged mountain slopes throughout the park's vastness. One of the most amazing species inhabiting the park is the incredibly rare and hardy Great Basin bristlecone pine, which grows in isolated groves where it is known to be able to live for over 4,000 years - even in extreme weather and climate conditions.

6 Massive Differences In Altitude

Many of the park's trails have huge differences in altitude. In fact, the largest difference between its highest and lowest trails is over a mile; the very highest point is the tip of Wheeler Peak at over 13,000 feet above sea level, while the lowest is at the Mountain View Nature Trail at 6,825 feet above sea level.

5 The Darkest Nights In The USA

Because of low humidity and a lack of light pollution, Great Basin National Park showcases some of the deepest and darkest night skies in the whole country, making it an incredible place for stargazing and nighttime photography. Thanks to its eccentric starry nights, the park hosts the Great Basin Astronomy Festival every year, which takes place over several days and nights each September. Visitors can enjoy night sky photography workshops, stargazing presentations, and even observe the sky through telescopes.

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4 There Are 10 Bat Species

There are at least 10 different species of bat that reside in the park, including the adorable and fascinating Townshend's big-eared bat - known for its 11-inch wingspan and super long and flexible ears.

3 There Are Native Fish Species

The park even has its own native species - one of which is the Bonneville cutthroat trout. It's the only trout species native to the park and is found living in cold streams at very high altitudes. Although not native to the area, several other types of trout have also been introduced, including the brown, rainbow, and brook trout.

2 It's Great For Road Trips

One of the best and most famous routes through Great Basin is the park's signature Scenic Drive - and yes, the name is properly fitting. The drive commences in Baker and goes for 12 miles and up 4,000 feet of ascension through extremely diverse ecosystems and landscapes.

1 Birdwatching Here Is The Best In The Region

The park is a haven for birdwatchers with its stunning sagebrush grasslands along the famous Scenic Drive route delivering what could easily be said to be the best birdwatching opportunities in the region. Wildlife watchers can collect a bird species checklist from the park's Visitor Center and search for as many of the 136 native bird species in the area as possible throughout their stay.

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