This past weekend we road tripped to Great Basin National Park with 4 of our friends in Salt Lake. It’s a 3.5 hour drive and sits in the middle of nowhere Eastern Nevada. With so little civilization in the area, it’s the darkest spot in the continental US and the star gazing is some of the best! We got there around sunset Friday and we were able to secure a campsite at the 3rd campground we drove through within the park. We set up camp and stargazed that night before attempting to sleep during a high wind advisory..I think I slept about 4 hours and got the worst night camping sleep ever haha.
Saturday we attempted the hardest hike in the park, Wheeler Peak. It starts at 10,000 ft and the hike is 8 miles with 3,000 ft of elevation change. The first half was nice and gradual, and then we hit the 40 mph wind gusts at mile 3 when we were completely exposed to the valley on the other side of the park. We trudged our way up as far as we could before sheltering at the saddle, just before the last mile scramble of 1000 ft to the peak. On another day with lower wind speed, I think we would’ve attempted it. But we were proud we made it that far! I think 12,000 ft is the highest I’ve ever hiked to, as Utah peaks hit around 10-11K ft. We ate lunch, relaxed, and made our way down quickly as the winds picked up around noon. We stopped at an alpine lake briefly on our way down and then made it back to camp for a nap, dinner, and more stargazing. That night I got my full 8 hours of sleep!
Sunday, we packed up camp and made our way to the Bristlecone Pine Glacier Trail that also starts around 10,000 ft. It’s a 5 mile hike with 1200 ft of elevation change. It was a beautiful and gradual hike with lots of history about Bristlecone Pines along the way. The end of the trail leads you to a rock glacier with beautiful 180 degree views. I would highly recommend this hike, especially after attempting a peak it was very refreshing! I’m glad we visited and checked Great Basin off of our National Park bucket list; next month we will be visiting Glacier National Park in Montana for a long weekend!