Great Basin National Park stella lake

Great Basin National Park: Nevada’s Alpine Paradise

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As you know, last year in June I went to Great Basin National Park in Nevada and fell in love.  Obviously, that meant we had to go back again this summer.  If you saw my Bears Ears post, you’ll know we did the same thing the same weekend more than once two years in a row, well, this was the other thing.  And it was almost exactly the same as the year before.

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We set out from Bullfrog in the evening after work and made our way over to Delta, Utah, the closest town with groceries to the park.  We stayed at the same hotel, the Delta Inn I think and got groceries the next morning before heading into the park.  Delta doesn’t have tons to offer, but it’s a good stopping point if you’re coming from Utah late since there isn’t anything else until you get to Baker, which has even less than Delta.

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Our first stop in the park the next day was the Upper Lehman Creek campground to claim a spot before it filled up. We had a great spot near the creek, two spots over from the one we had last year.  The people in the spot next to us had the same tent as us!  We spent a couple hours at our site just hanging out, reading, and wandering around the campground area before heading down to the visitor center.

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After that, we decided to go up to Stella Lake before it got dark.  The hike up didn’t seem horrible that night and the weather was really great.  Unlike the last trip up, there was no snow left along the trail.  We saw a few deer having dinner and, of course, I said hello and told them to enjoy.  We got to the lake and had it all to ourselves.  The sun was setting and I didn’t want to hike back in the dark because, well, I’m afraid of it, but we had enough time to relax and take some pictures.

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This is also when I became a Fuji convert.  I’ve been using a Canon of some sort since high school, a Rebel T3i since I came to Utah, but tried an older Fuji at home a couple times.  I really liked it then and tried using a Fuji XT2 and love it!  Taking the same picture on the Fuji and the Canon, then comparing them was like night and day.  The Canon still wasn’t bad, but there was no question I needed to make the switch.

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It was starting to get a little cold and a little bit darker so we headed down and went back to camp to probably have sandwiches for dinner.  It got pretty cold at night, probably in the high 30s or low 40s, but I was nice and bundled up in my sleeping bag.  Every time I woke up I was worried about mountain lions because along with the dark, that’s what I worry about camping.

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We tried to make breakfast in the morning but couldn’t get the camp stove we borrowed lit.  We resigned ourselves to our fate of breakfast at Kerouac’s in Baker.  Not that either of us was that upset over this since we were looking forward to eating there for weeks.  We found out there was going to be a ranger talk on mountain lions in Great Basin that afternoon that we obviously had to go to, so right after breakfast, we went back up to Stella and Teresa Lakes.

The hike up this time felt way more difficult, which is silly because we did it the night before that and were fine.  There was a group of people at Stella Lake, so after a couple of pictures, we continued on to Teresa lake where we spent quite a bit of time just hanging out.

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We skipped going up to the glacier this time since we went last year and wanted to make sure we had time to eat before the mountain lion talk.  We spent some time in the Bristlecones then headed back down.  We had some time to relax before the talk.  We actually got there late.

I love reading things about mountain lions, but they really freak me out.  Like, a lot.  I always worry about them when we’re camping and hiking.  I know I don’t need t, really, but I do.  I keep hoping the more I learn about them the less afraid I’ll be.  So far, no luck.  I did learn a lot at the talk, though!

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We learned there are around 200 mountain lions in Great Basin National Park alone.  The biggest one caught in the state was found in the park area.  We got to see a mountain lion pelt, which was a little creepy, and I want to say we got to see a skull but I honestly can’t remember.  We saw pictures of them around the park, too.  Let me just say, none of this helped me sleep.  At all.  Oh, and there was a sighting of one down the Baker Creek Road area a day or two before.

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The next morning it was time to head home after one last breakfast at Kerouac’s.  It was an uneventful drive that felt like it took forever.  I’m already ready to go back next year, which I’d love to do in the fall to see it with the leaves changing.  It looks like a wonderful place to see that.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get to do the long tour of Lehman Cave this year, but maybe next time.

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Tips for visiting Great Basin National Park:

  • If you plan to stay in a hotel in Baker, definitely book that ahead of time.
  • Camping in the park is first come, first serve.  You shouldn’t have issues finding a spot, maybe it’s tougher around holidays, though.  Wheeler Peak Campground doesn’t open until Late May, around Memorial Day weekend.
  • Wheeler Peak and Upper Lehman Creek campgrounds fill up first, but there are still plenty of other options.
  • Even in the summer, it can get pretty cold at night, so prepare for that especially if you’re camping.
  • There is no park entrance fee.
  • The longer cave tour should definitely be booked in advance.  We haven’t had any luck just showing up for that one.  The shorter one should also be booked ahead if you really want to see Lehman Cave.  Even this one can fill up or you might only find one open spot at a time

Have you been to Great Basin?  What did you do there?  Do you want to go? 

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