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National Parks - 2010 Trip - Day 14

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Start Location:  Hurricane, UT
Ending Location: Ely, NV
Miles Today: 301
Trip Miles: 4073
States Visited: 9
National Parks Visited: 11
Low Temp: 62.9° F
High Temp:96.1° F
Min Elevation: 4676'
Max Elevation: 10169'

Route Map:


We started out with a short stretch on I-15 this morning then picked up route 130 heading north towards Minersville and then route 21 west toward Garrison.  Although we went over several passes, they were mostly more like rolling hills.  At one point we went about 90 miles - almost an hour and a half - and saw one truck going the same way we were and counted 13 vehicles going the opposite way.  Between the heat and the lack of stimulation from either the roads or other vehicles, it was hard to maintain concentration.

We arrived at Great Basin National Park around noon having gained an hour when we crossed into Nevada.  It was a little different than what we have come to expect. There was a visitor center outside the park and then a second one a few miles inside the park.  There is also no entry fee for this park.  We went to both visitor centers and the one inside the park had a short video about the park which we took the time to watch since we were mostly unfamiliar with this park.  We have been on the Colorado Plateau the last several days and all of the cliffs and formations were mostly sandstone.  Here the park has been formed by uplifting and glacial activity and most of the rock is quartz, limestone, and marble.  The park is much different than most of the other parks we have been in.  It's certainly beautiful but forbidding at the same time.  The park can be extremely inhospitable from early fall to late spring due to snow, storms, and cold and, like many of the parks, much of it is only accessible via hiking trails.

There are sort of two main attractions here.  The first is Lehman Caves and they are only accessible via guided tours.  Today the tours were either already full or not at a good time for us so we bypassed the caves.  The other attraction is a narrow, twisting, 12 mile scenic drive with lots of hairpin curves that take you to just above the 10,000' level of Mt. Wheeler which, at 13,000 feet, is the tallest mountain in the park.  There is also a hiking trail which the more adventurous can take to the top of the mountain - but we didn't.  The drive was nice and, although the ranger warned us about gravel on some of the tight turns, we didn't have any problems.

We are in Ely, Nevada for the night and tomorrow head west across Nevada on highway 50 which appears to be designated a scenic highway.  We haven't seen too many of those in Nevada but maybe we will be pleasantly surprised.