After surviving a Night at the Gas Station a few nights ago in Fallon, NV we decided to start our next destination drive a day early, swing by Great Basin National Park, and dry camp for the night. Dry camping wasn’t really that big of deal, and it was nice to knock off a bit of that long drive a day early. Besides, it would’ve been a real shame to drive right past Great Basin National Park without stopping to peek at it.
We spent Thursday night at Sacramento Pass Rec. Area, which is part of BLM (Bureau of Land Management). It was gorgeous and free! It’s at 6724 ft elevation. This is the highest elevation we’ve stayed at so far. There was no cell service, no internet service, and no hook ups.
Sunrise photo by E (as usual)
I was excited to fill out another page in this cool book that the S. family gave us as a bon voyage gift back in December 2018.
Each park has a two page spread with fun facts, activity suggestions, a place for notes (I put a photo in the “notes” section), and a spot to stick the commemorative sticker (included in the book).
This quote from John Muir in the back of the book says it perfectly.
Everybody needs beauty… places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike.
I wish everyone would be able to experience nature in this way. I wish everyone could see every National Park. If you live within driving distance of a National Park, be sure to take some time and go check it out. If the closest National Park is far away, maybe instead of going to a theme park for your next vacation you might consider visiting a National Park instead. We have been overwhelmed by the beauty we have seen at each National Park we have visited. We certainly enjoy museums, train rides, theme parks and other activities but you can really feel the glory of God in nature. America’s National Parks are National Parks for a reason. The beauty found in one is only paralleled by the different beauty found in another.
The terrain at Great Basin National Park varies from a desert floor to mountain forest. We started on the desert floor near the Lehman Cave Visitor Center, and hiked the short 1/4 mile Mountain View Nature Trail. We saw prickly pear cactus and a cute ground squirrel. We also looked at the sun through a special sun-viewing telescope with Ranger Tim. Never look directly at the sun without proper equipment.
Then we took Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive to Bristlecone Campground. We attempted to hike Bristlecone Pine Trail, but we were at 10,000 ft and we were feelin’ it so we opted for Island Forest Trail instead. This trail was more level, no need to go into thinner air, and a short 1/4 mile loop through the forest.
After breathtaking views and breathtaking elevation we headed back down to recover and refuel. We grabbed some PB & J’s at the RV and headed back to Lehman Visitor Center for the evening astronomy program. Ranger Lisa taught us about different kinds of light, wavelengths of light and ways light is measured. Then we got to look at a brilliant night sky, full of stars. High power telescopes showed us Saturn with rings, Messier 5 (M5) globular cluster, The Ring Nebula, and Jupiter with stripes and moons. As an extra treat, the International Space Station (ISS) orbited right past us! It looks like a big, bright star that doesn’t blink and moves at a constant rate across the sky. I’m almost sure we’ve seen it before and wondered what it was! The astronomy program was a real highlight for us. The kiddos had a great time staying up way past their bedtime and mama and papa thought it was definitely worth it! Sorry, I haven’t any photos of the astronomy program to share. All my photos are taken with my iPhone and iPhones create white light from their screens, we were not allowed to use any white light during the star gazing.
Great Basin National Park is also known for Lehman Caves. You may only explore these caves on guided tours. Due to the impromptu nature of this trip, the tours were all sold-out during our short visit. We definitely didn’t stay long enough to do this park justice. Next time Lehman Caves, next time…
Thank you for following us! We hope you have the chance to get outside, and enjoy the starry night sky in your neck of the woods tonight!