Great Basin National Park

Trip Prep Time:   Staying at National Parks requires planning.  Even one as remote and not so famous as Great Basin National Park. We booked our campsite in March for a Memorial day trip.  When we got there the campsites were booked and the cave tours were sold out.  You may not need to book this far out but I wouldn’t delay.  There did appear to be some alternate RV and camping sites in the town of Baker for backup if you do not reserve a camping site at the National Park.  Still, you came to the Park and want to stay there for the obvious reasons.  The main reason in this desert it sure is a lot cooler and a lot prettier up top.

Costs: Camping was 12.00 USD a night.  The park was free which is amazing for a National Park.  It must be due to its remoteness. Lehman Caves cost 8.00 USD for the Lodge Room Tour and 10.00 USD for the Grand Palace Tour.

Best Route Out: From Salt Lake City area takes I-15 down till you hit Nephi. From Nephi we took Highway 132 to Highway 6 to Delta, from Delta it is highway 50/6 all the way to the park. Do yourself a favor and gas up at Delta because there are no gas stations between Delta and Baker. Highway 50 is not called the loneliest road in America without reason and let’s just say it is lonely from Delta all the way back to Western Nevada.

Lodging Tips/Where to stay: We stayed at Grey Cliffs Campground. The drawback of this campground was it was dusty, lacked potable water and was near a cold and FAST moving creek. The fast moving creek was actually a double edged sword. I was able to use my new battery powered shower with this river as it was a near freezing shower, it was worth though to get a bit clean.  The negative is you need to keep an eye on your young ones to make sure that they do not wonder off.  There are other campgrounds you might want to try them instead and use this as a backup.

Activities Planned: We planned to do the Alpine Lake route which is about 3 miles and to boot a loop so it sounded easy and scenic. The problem was this was a high snow year and it was Memorial day weekend so there was plenty of snow still littered throughout the area. So we tried to hike to Lake Teresa (only .7 mile) on the first day. We mostly saw the area called Sky Island Forest Trail as we got maybe 500 meters in and we kept getting bewildered (or lost) due to all the snow on the ground. Some of us kept sinking into the snow and insisted we needed snowshoes. I had a toddler on my back and I had no snowshoes and was doing fine (yes I still sunk a few times).

We bought our Lehman Caves tour tickets late.  I would have preferred to do this on the first day.  The cave was your standard Forest Service managed Cave. It was much larger than Timpanogos cave and had lots of “shield” formations. If you had never been in a cave you should definitely do it. I still have the desire to go and see a real untamed cave.  This is not that experience but as you can see it is toddler friendly and Derek seemed to have a good time.

Lehmans Cave

Activities Accomplished:  The drive up to Wheeler Peak is gorgeous and is a surprise because Wheeler Peak looked plain from the backside but once you got there it was as gorgeous or better than the Sierras or Rockies and if you are here you will do the drive.  Take a look below for yourself.
Wheeler Peak

Wheeler Peak

On our last day we did half hike Pole Canyon. The hike was great because the foliage went from desert like to more forest like. We only did a mile or so due to some of us dropping out due having a cold. There was a rattlesnake on the trail and my wife fall out of the hike early on due to having a cold. So we turned around early.

What you should do that we didn’t (Hardcore): We meet people in the Wheeler Peak parking lot that did the hike to the top of Wheeler Peak. Sounded like it took 4 hours up and 3 down. You had to have used snowshoes. It was about a 3000 foot gain from the parking lot.

GPS Worthy: I have hiked many trails and have never got lost. With limited to no cell phone signal throughout the park you need to bring a GPS don’t rely on your phone or you will be limited to your hiking options when trails could be under snow or in the case of the Arch Hike washed out (as the British Couple said).

Nearby Adventures:
We left the park the second day to head on out to Gandy Warm Springs and Devils Slot Canyon. Gandy Warm Springs was not warm nor was as big as other videos and pictures showed. There is an underwater cave so bring a waterproof flashlight if you want to see it. Truly the part that made Gandy Warm Springs special was it was like a clean pure stream pouring out of the side of the mostly pure rock hill.

Gandy Warm Springs

Gandy Warm Springs

Gandy Warm Springs

Upper Gandy Warm Springs

Gandy Warm Springs

Gandy Warm Springs

Upper Gandy Warm Springs

Gandy Warm Springs

Gandy Warm Springs

Upper Gandy Warm Springs

Food: Food is the adventure when camping. My wife was surprised how good we ate. Still in camping cooking always has a disaster hiding. We put a beautiful preseasoned trip tip on the fire on aluminum foil. This was a BAD idea. The oil caught fire and we tried picking up the tri-tip and it got dumped into the fire. We spent minutes trying to figure how to get it out. One hand with a knife the other with a piece of wood. We did rescue the tri-tip with minimal burn to our self. Cooking tri-tip over an open flame is hard but it turned out well even for falling into the fire.

The next night I created a basting with my sisters olive oil spray and her little can of spices on some Hormel Ribs.  They turned out well.  I had thrown some vegetables in aluminum foil with olive oil butter and some spices and set it on the grill for 30 minutes.  Let’s just say everybody ate their vegetables … well except my toddler.  Do toddlers eat something besides Macaroni and cheese?  I brought a can of buns from Smiths and we put them in my sisters metal s’mores tray. We cooked them over the flame and they turned out well. Last but not least was we did some S’mores in the S’more holder my sister brought.  They seemed to cook more graham cracker than marshmallow.  Once last note the local firewood around the area was super smokey.  We only used it the first night.

Animal Life:   The most interesting animal life we saw on this trip was not even in the park.   Driving out to Gandy to see the warm springs and the slot canyon we saw at least 4 Antelope.   Most of them ran when they saw us, as in they ran alongside us.

Points of Interest along the way:   Notch Peak along the way is an awesome sight.  This is supposed to be the second biggest rock face in the United States after El Captain.  This area deserves to be explored.  Due to the desert conditions, this is recommended for Spring or Fall.

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