Great Basin National Park - Part 1

Ely KOA, Ely, Nevada
September 1-3, 3,730 miles and 47 days into the trip.

Back to the Summer/Fall 2006 Travel Directory

We are taking US highway 50 west through Nevada. It is called "The Loneliest Road in America." Example: from Ely to Fallon is 254 miles and only 2 very small towns. Austin population 400; Eureka population not given and 2 small gas stations in each. The campground in Ely sold T-shirts “The nearest Wall-Mart is 389 miles round trip from Ely KOA.”
While traveling west between Beaver, Utah and Great Basin NP, NV, about 116 miles and 2.5 hours, we saw only 4 cars and two motorcycles going the other way. It reminded us of driving through the Yukon and Alaska for being alone, except that the gas stations were closer up there!

The Great Basin covers most of Nevada and almost half of Utah. The parts of those states which contain the Colorado and Virgin Rivers are outside of the Basin. The Great Basin is unique in the US. No water leaves the basin. Rivers begin, run, and then go underground. They may resurface once in a while but soon return underground. The National Park is only an extremely small part of the actual Great Basin. It was established to represent the vast Great Basin region and to identify it’s geologic and hydrologic uniqueness. The mountain ranges of Nevada run north to south with valleys between. This is known as Basin and Range formation in the High Desert. Great Basin mountains rise like islands above flat, dry land of the High Desert. Most of the desert is at 6,000 feet elevation and the road summits are 7 to 8 thousand feet above sea level. So when your heading east to west it is like riding on a huge roller coaster. 5-7 miles climbing over a mountain and then 10-15 miles driving in the valley to the next mountain.

Most of the roads in the valley went straight to the next mountain.
Were in the valley now and have about 7 miles to the next mountain.
Most valleys had a dirt road heading off to a ranch which you could not see.

Great Basin NP includes the Snake Mountain Range behind us.
The tallest peak is called Wheeler Peak (13,063 ft.) and contains a Glacier on it's west side. There is a dirt road which takes you near the peak. We did not take it because our stay here was too short. Our motorhome was too large for the campground and we had to continue on to Ely. The visitors center is about 1/3 of the way up the mountain.

View from the visitors center.
There were many hiking trails. All of them in the open and steeply up hill.
So we elected to take a 90 minute tour of Lehman Caves, which is in the NP.

The Jail House.
Mom found another good and unique restaurant.

The old cell looks better in black and white.

An evening view from our site at Ely KOA.
Ely and this part of Nevada is very barren.

The settng sun on the mountains to the east.

Back to the Summer/Fall 2006 Travel Directory