Not everyone travels to Nevada to be immersed in the bright lights and glamour of Las Vegas. While this state knows how to party, it's also home to one of the most underrated gems in the country: Great Basin National Park.
It might be strange to travel all the way to Nevada just to embrace its natural landscape but Great Basin is so much more than a natural park. There are so many things to explore and experience in this park that it's amazing the visitor rate is still one of the lowest in the country. From underground caverns to trees that date back to the oldest recorded year in history, anyone would be hard-pressed to try leaving without scoping out all the wonders this park has in store. And, to make things even more interesting, the park's setting is absolutely stunning - with the last remaining Nevada glacier, to boot. Have we piqued your interest yet?
Some Would Say The Park Is Even More Enchanting After Dark
There aren't many places that function as full parks during the day and become one of the greatest places for stargazing in the country at night... Unless you're near Great Basin National Park. As of 2016, this park was designated as an International Dark Sky Park which means that there's so little light pollution - if any, at all - that things normally not seen with the naked eye, such as galaxies, can be viewed quite easily.
One trip to this park at night can dole out views of the Andromeda Galaxy, the Milky Way, and even certain planets, depending on the time of the year. The best part? Any number of these can be seen right from the park's campgrounds.
Lehman Caves Are Home To Underground Geological Features Many Have Never Even Heard Of
Lehman Caves are open year-round and provide guided tours for anyone interested in seeing what lies below their feet. The caves, which actually make up one quarter-mile cavern, are home to unique features that aren't necessarily found in every U.S. cave.
The shield formation, for example, is a rare event and while it's tough to find in other caves, this unique geological formation happens roughly 300 times throughout Lehman Caves. The cave system is home to an additional four cave features that go beyond well-known stalagmites and stalactites.
Wheeler Peak Is Any Hiker's Summit Dream
One of the most popular reasons to visit a national park is for the views and Wheeler Peak does not disappoint. This hike isn't the easiest but it's also not impossible and the payoff is well worth the 8.6 miles (round-trip) if hikers take their time.
The peak sits at just over 13,000 feet, towering over the surrounding landscape as the second-highest peak in the state. It's a workout to the top but one that pays off on a clear, sunny day with some of the best views of Nevada with the shortest hike.
Meet A Tree That Once Went By The Name 'Prometheus'
It's easy to think that an animal species would take the title as the longest-living species on the planet but that would be incorrect. The longest-living species is actually of the plant variety, specifically, bristlecone pine trees.
It's in Great Basin National Park that scientists discovered the oldest-living of this species, and of any living species in the world, and appropriately named it Prometheus. The tree was taken down for research but the stump of the tree can still be observed in the park and a ranger will know exactly where to guide you.
This Desert Is Home To Some Of The Best Fishing In The State
Fishing is permitted in the state of Nevada with a Nevada fishing license and trout tag, which is a good thing since Great Basin National Park is home to four species of that one fish alone.
Additionally, mottled sculpin, speckled dace, and redside shiner are also known to reside in its waters. Despite this state being seemingly devoid of water sources, subalpine lakes can be found deep in the park.
You Don't Need To Hike To See The Southernmost Glacier On The Continent
The same mountain that provides stunning views of the surrounding landscape is the same one that's home to the southernmost glacier on the continent. Wheeler Peak Glacier can be found at an elevation of 11,500 feet, and you don't even need to hike this mountain in order to see it.
From the viewing platform, Wheeler Peak Overlook, which is along the park's scenic mountain drive, you can get excellent views of this glacier. For those who do want an up-close and personal look at it, though, the Bristlecone/Glacier trail will take hikers the 4.6 miles up to the correct elevation.