Nevada is famous around the world. Mostly it's famous for the Sin City of Las Vegas and that it is the home of Area 51 with numerous UFO sightings; however, it's less famous for its stunning national parks. It is home to half of Lake Tahoe but otherwise boasts many desert settings.

Mostly the desert high desert or low desert but even these deserts are often not real deserts being interlaced with many mountain ranges covered in forests. See here for seeing if you should choose Reno or Las Vegas for your next holiday.


The Great Basin National Park

The Great Basin National Park is located in east-central Nevada near the border with Utah.

  • Date: Established 1986

The Great Basin is a massive watershed basin covering most of Nevada, much of Utah and Oregon, and parts of California, Idaho, Wyoming, and even Mexico. This basin has no outlet to the sea and the water just evaporates. It is from this basin that the Great Basin National Park takes its name.

The park is known for its groves of ancient bristlecone pines (these are the oldest known nonclonal organisms). It is the home of the Lehman Caves and the Wheeler Peak with its Wheeler Peak Glacier.

One of the be many draws to this national park is that there are no crowds. It is one of America's least-visited parks despite its many stunning things to see and explore.

Related: Is Las Vegas Really Overrated? Here's What First-Time Visitors Shouldn't Waste Their Time On

While the park was designated a national park in 1986, the Lehman Caves National Monument had been created back in 1922 by President Warren G. Harding.

The Lehman Caves really is a must-see in this national park. There are guided tours of the Lehman Caves that open up this dazzling subterranean world of stalagmites, stalactites and other rare cave formations called helicities (helicities are a calcite feature that curved in odd and unusual shapes seemingly defying gravity).

Most other caves dotted around the place generally only have one or two of these unique formations. Great Basin's caves are particularly notable with more than 300. Not only that but some of the Lehman Caves' inhabitants are only found there (like the pseudoscorpion).

  • Wheeler Peak: Height 13,063 Feet or 3,982 Meters

The park boasts a number of developed campsites as well as a number of backcountry camping sites. See here for 10 of the best camping spots in America.

Great Basin Bristlecone Pines

While most people may just see another pine tree, the Great Basin Bristlecone pines are noted for being the oldest non-clonal species anywhere on the planet.

  • Latin Name: Pinus Logaeva

They are strange trees that have been pushed and shaped by the snow, wind, and rain and have survived for thousands of years. They grow in isolated groves just below the tree line in very harsh conditions. They have to endure freezing temperatures, high winds, and a short growing season. They grow so slowly that in some years they do not even add a ring of growth.

The slow growth makes them dense and hardy, they can resist fungi, rot, erosion, and insects. They grow in seemingly impossible locations that most other vegetation cannot grow.

  • Location: Great Basin Bristlecone Pines Are Extremely Rare And Only Grow In California, Nevada, and Utah
  • Groves In The Park: Wheeler Peak, Mount Washington, And Eagle Peak Groves
  • Prometheus Tree: Remains Of the Tree Once Recorded As The Oldest Tree on Earth (4,700 to 5,000 Years Old)

Visiting The Park

Lehman Caves Visitor Center

  • Located: 5.5 Miles From The Town Of Baker In Nevada
  • Summer Hours: May 23rd to September 11th - 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
  • Restaurant: Lehman Caves Visitor Center Has The Great Basin Cafe Open In The Summer Season From 8.00 am to 3.00 pm

Related: Where To Stay In Lake Tahoe, Depending On What Kind Of Vacation You're Looking For

Great Basin Visitor Center

  • Summer Hours: July 1st to September 4th - 1.00 pm to 5.00 pm
  • Closed: Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays

Camping In The National Park

If one would like to stay inside of the park, then there are five developed campgrounds:

  • Upper Lehman Creek
  • Lower Lehman Creek
  • Baker Creek
  • Grey Cliffs
  • Wheeler Peak

Each of these campgrounds is developed with vault toilets, tent pads, and campfire grills. There are three campgrounds with accessible sites and there are primitive campgrounds along the Snake Creek road.

  • Camping Season: Generally From May to October
  • Lower Lehman Creek: The Only Campground Open Year-Round

The state of Nevada is truly breathtaking. It is one of America's great outdoor wonderland. It is so much more than just desert. There are numerous mountain ranges, state forests, and snow-capped peaks all through the state. They are all for one's taking, there are no crowds in Nevada outside of Las Vegas.

Next: What We Know About Area 51 And What We'd Like To Know If We Could Visit