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It’s no wonder Wheeler Peak campground in the Great Basin National Park is my favorite campground within a half days drive of Las Vegas. As you awake in the morning you’re greeted by the sounds of the songbirds, the deer grazing in the meadow, and the creek meandering by your tent. It’s also where you’ll find the trailhead to the Cirque trail. My favorite trail in the Park.
Becky Mills, Park Supervisor, Great Basin National Park ... “I love that area too. And I think when I first came to this Park many many years ago that was the biggest surprise. I think surprise is a word that I would put with this Park. Because you come from an arid environment as you’re driving. You drive up the mountain road to Wheeler Peak campground, and you begin on that little hike and you're in an entirely different environment. Your in a mountain Alpine environment with conifers, little streams that are very clear and tinkling are coming through, you may see deer, you may hear birdsong, and the first thing you come to very quickly is a gorgeous turquoise alpine lake surrounded by the ridge. Then you can go to another one and see the same thing a little differently with wild flowers on it. Depending of course on what time of year. And then you have this extraordinary experience of visiting the ancient Bristlecone grove.”
David Bert ... “And it is extraordinary. I mean, they're amazing, creatures really.”
Becky Mills... “When you stand before one and you realize it's alive and has lived for more than 4000 years you have to admire its strength, its capability of living in these elements, Its beauty and realize it is alive. It is a creature.”
I love exploring the park with Becky Mills. Even though she’s been the Park Supervisor for many years you can tell that her enthusiasm for the beauty here hasn’t been dampened one bit.
One of the many attractions at the Great Basin Park that you must do is take the cave tour. There are an amazing number of limestone caves in the Great Basin area, but none are as magnificent as the Lehman caves.
Becky Mills... “That's true. Lehman caves is one of the most extraordinarily decorated caves in the country. It's especially known for its shields. Not because other case don't have them, but because Lehman has so many more of them. And if you're interested in cave formations this is one of the places you definitely want to go to to see. And we have many many people that repeat that visit because you can't absorb the cave at one time. And if you love it the first time you'll learn more about it each time you come.”
My good friend Brian Wignall would be upset with me if I didn’t mention the fantastic fishing here at Great Basin National Park. Brian managed a hat trick here catching a rainbow, a brown, and a brook trout all in one day at Baker creek. But I think that Brian would be please to know about the plans for reintroducing into the streams here the native Bonneville cutthroat trout.
Becky Mills... “You can now catch rainbow, Eastern Brook, and German Brown. But the very exciting project we talked about is the Bonneville cutthroat reintroduction project. And so some of our streams, over the next few years, there will be portions of them that we will be removing the non-native trout. And after were sure that they're gone then we're going to be reintroducing this native Bonneville cutthroat who dates from the Lake Bonneville that stretched out here all the way practically to the Border Inn, on the border of Utah and Nevada.”
I could go on for hours extolling the virtues of the Great Basin National Park. The fishing, the Lehman caves, the last remaining glacier in Nevada, the Bristlecone Pine grove, the alpine lakes, and the primitive camping as well as the developed campgrounds, (with perhaps the lowest fees in the nation). But what makes the Great Basin National Park so special is how you can get a sense of your place in the universe. The air here is some of the cleanest air in the country. Allowing you to look up at the night sky and see the myriad of stars and galaxies that inhabit the cosmos. Also, from many different vistas in the park it seems like you can see forever across the valley below.
Becky Mills... It seems like forever. I think that's why I feel this Park is a place where perhaps unlike many other wonderful places you can really sense the universe of time here. The universe of nature, and your own proportion in a vast universe.