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12 Great Basin National Park Boondocking Spots

Great Basin National Park Lake

The Great Basin National Park is a series of approximately 90 small basins that come together to involve three main activities which are landscape formation, water collection, and home to a variety of plants and animals.

The water bodies within the Great Basin do not flow towards gulfs or oceans but they drain internally unlike many rivers and streams in the country. It is within this Great basin that the Great Basin National Park resides. The Great Basin National Park boondocking spots make your tour there enjoyable and convenient.

Why Visit the Great Basin National Park

As mentioned above the Great Basin National Park is home to many species of plants and animals and has beautiful landscape formations that are worth your time during a vacation or the free time that you get. If you want to enjoy activities such as tree-hugging, challenging hikes, star gazing, and glacial views it is high time you visit Great basin, National Park. The park is home to some of the oldest trees like the Great Basin Bristlecone pine that are capable of surviving for many years in extremely harsh conditions. The Great Basin National Park is also known for the darkest night skies in the US that make it a great place where you can do star gazing and night sky photography.

History of the Great Basin National Park

The landscape that you find in most of the Great Basin National Park boondocking spots was mainly formed as a result of the action of glaciers. For instance, when you are on the Summit Trail or the Glacier Trail you can see the Lehman rock glacier which is a mass of boulders put together by ice. Of all the true ice glaciers that were involved in the formation of the Great Basin National Park 10,000 years ago, there exists a single remnant in Lehman Cirque.

The formation of Lehman Caves started between 2 and 5 million years ago when the only thing on the landscape was limestone and shallow ocean. Absalom Lehman discovered Lehman Caves in 1885. He was a rancher and a miner from Ohio and he is said to have brought stalactites to his family as gifts. Limestone is currently one of the largest parts of the park’s landscape and came into existence from the accumulated shells of the dead ocean creatures. The first people who settled at the Great Basin National Park about 12,000 years ago were the Paleo-Indians and therefore they have been inhabitants in this park for a very long time.

Great Basin National Park Pin

How to Get To the Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park is in a very remote location. From Baker Nevada, you will have to move 5 miles west to get to the park while from Ely Nevada you will move 70 miles southeast. From Reno Nevada, you cover 385 miles east and from Las Vegas, you will move 286 miles north. Also, from Salt Lake City, Utah you will cover a distance of 234 miles southeast to reach Great Basin, National Park. The major airports closest to Great Basin National Park are the Salt Lake City and McCarran International airports in Salt Lake City and Las Vegas respectively.

Great Basin National Park Mountains

12 Great Basin National Park Boondocking Spots

The mileage shown is to the center of Great Basin which is quite large. You may want to shift boondocking locations after a couple of days to be nearer to another entrance gate. We also added one of the last two even though it was pretty far the trout fishing made up for the distance. Loved that almost more than the park.

1. Great Basin National Park Boondocking – 10 Miles: – Great Basin NP – Strawberry Creek

Address
National Forest Development Road 456
Baker, Nevada
GPS: 39.059172, -114.283176
Elevation: 7421′

Management Public – National Park Service

Great Basin NP – Strawberry Creek is open all year. We stayed here for 2 nights and it was wonderful! Lots of spots available and pretty flat spots. Pretty area but lots of ATVers, so it can be a bit noisy during the day. Was spread out and we didn’t end up having any neighbors. Some cows, but never got too close to us. AT&T and Verizon both had service here. Would stay again!

Amenities:

Restrooms

2. Great Basin National Park Free Camping – 12 Miles: – Sacramento Pass Rec Area

Address
Baker, Nevada
GPS: 39.120972, -114.304848
Elevation: 6715′

Management Public – Bureau of Land Management (Official)

The road in is Gravel and 0.1 mile miles from a paved road. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 60 feet.

This BLM Recreation area is adjacent to Highway 50 roughly 48 miles east of Ely, NV. There are pit toilets and almost all of the campsites (about 15) have covered tables on concrete pads. Some of the campsites are pull throughs that will accommodate large RV’s. Quite popular during hunting season and very close to Great Basin National Park. There are also 35 miles of mountain biking trails from the campground and a horse camp about a mile off the road with more pit toilets

Amenities:

Fire Ring
Picnic Tables
Restrooms

Activities:

OHV
Hiking
Horse Trails
Hunting
Wildlife Viewing

2 Sacramento Pass Rec Area - Boondockers Friendly 2 Sacramento Pass Rec Area 1 - Boondocking

3. Great Basin National Park Boondockers Friendly Spots – 12 Miles: – Cleve Creek

Address
National Forest Development Road 435
Ely, Nevada
GPS: 39.21387, -114.543439
Elevation: 6276′

Management -Public – Bureau of Land Management

Cleve Creek is open May-Sep. The maximum RV length at Cleve Creek is 24 feet. We were “car camping” our way across Nevada route 50 in May, 2020. We went to Cleve Creek because our first choice, Sacramento Pass, was full. And boy are we glad Sacramento Pass was full! Cleve Creek is about 14 miles off route 50. There was only 2 other campers there.

Amenities:

Restrooms

3 Cleve Creek - Boondockers Friendly 3 Cleve Creek 1 - Boondocking

4. Great Basin National Park Boondocking – 10 Miles: – Great Basin NP – Shoshone

Address
National Forest Development Road 448
Baker, Nevada
GPS: 38.926027, -114.251598
Elevation: 8176′

Management Public – National Park Service

Great Basin NP – Shoshone is open May-Oct. A truly wonderful are with numerous campsites alongside the dirt road. The sites are also situated near a stream. A vault toilet is available and near the first few campsites. Our site had a recently cleaned firepit with a grate. Beautiful! I much prefer this area now over the formal campgrounds in Great Basin NP, although those are very nice too.

Activities:

Wildlife Viewing

4 Shoshone 1 - Boondocking 4 Shoshone - Boondockers Friendly

5. Great Basin National Park Free Camping – 20 Miles: – Snake Creek

Address
Baker, Nevada
GPS: 38.91941, -114.12679
Elevation: 6132′

Management Public – Bureau of Land Management (Official)

The road in is Dirt and 5 miles from a paved road. Snake Creek is open Year round. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 15 feet. You may stay 14 days at Snake Creek. BLM campsite just outside Great Basin National Park. Accessible by car but not large trailers. Next to Snake Creek with large Cottonwood trees.38°55’09″N 114°07’36″W. White pine county, nevada.

Activities:

Tent Camping
OHV
Fishing
Hiking
Hunting
Wildlife Viewing

6. Great Basin National Park Boondockers Friendly Spots – 23 Miles: – Berry Creek

Address
National Forest Development Road 424
Ely, Nevada
GPS: 39.352205, -114.649077
Elevation: 8077′

Management – Public – Forest Service

Berry Creek is open May-Oct. Spectacular spot, a handful of terrific sites with football field length separation. Very clean BLM vault toilet. Amazing juxtaposition of sagebrush, aspen, cactus and pines. Tremendous hiking in canyon above sites. Zero cell coverage. Will go back, most creeks in the area are diverted well up in the watershed, this place has a very clean adjacent creek.

Amenities:

Restrooms

Activities:

Wildlife Viewing

7. Great Basin National Park Boondocking – 25 Miles: – Shell Gas Station Overnight

Address
Ely, Nevada
GPS: 39.24346, -114.867975
Elevation: 6529′

Management
Private – Truck Stop (Official) – Amenities:

Will do in a pinch if you arrive late. Behind the Shell station is a large dirt lot where trucks and campers park overnight. I asked the clerk and he said it was fine to spend the night back here. Plenty of level spots. The also have special ‘large vehicle’ pumps to the side with regular and diesel gas, that are easy to get in to. Shell Gas Station, 1690 Great Basin Blvd, Ely, NV 89301

Pets Welcome
Restrooms

8. Great Basin National Park Free Camping – 28 Miles: – Garnet Hill Dispersed

Address
Lincoln Highway
Ely, Nevada
GPS: 39.262799, -114.927422
Elevation: 6841′

Management – Public – Bureau of Land Management

Garnet Hill Dispersed is open all year. The maximum RV length at Garnet Hill Dispersed is 20 feet. Our main goal was finding garnets. The bonus was being able to boondock. The road to the top was very passable in our RV but we were unable to turn around without unhooking the tow vehicle. Still found a nice level quiet site to camp and garnets.

Amenities:

Restrooms

8 Garnet Hill Dispersed - Boondocking 8 Garnet Hill Dispersed 1 - Boondockers Friendly

9. Great Basin National Park Boondockers Friendly Spots – 30 Miles: – Garnet Hill

Address
39.282993, -114.949613
Ruth, Nevada
GPS: 39.282889, -114.949555
Elevation: 7290′

Management – Public – Bureau of Land Management (Official)

The road in is Gravel. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 25 feet. You may stay 14 at Garnet Hill. This was really easy to fine just follow the signs lots of open camping fire pits bathroom picnic tables road was well-maintained there was some ice on the road I could see where it might get a little slippery of times but this is the end of January 2021 and I think he could pull a bus up here. Super convenient

Amenities:

Picnic Tables
Restrooms
Trash Cans

Activities:

Water Sports
Wildlife Viewing

10. Great Basin National Park Boondocking – 32 Miles: – Patterson Pass Campground

Address
Pioche, Nevada
GPS: 38.591411, -114.66978
Elevation: 6198′

Management – Public – Bureau of Land Management (Official)

The road in is Gravel and 2 miles from a paved road. There are 6-15 campsites at this location. You may stay 14 at Patterson Pass Campground. Awesome and extremely remote campground located along route 93 between Pioche and Ely, Nevada. There’s a pit toilet and about ten or so campsites. Each site has a fire ring, picnic table, and gazebos. The views of the surrounding mountains and empty landscape around the site are incredibly beautiful! The gravel road to enter was well graded and we had no issues

Amenities:

BBQ Grill
Fire Ring
Pets Welcome
Picnic Tables
Restrooms

Activities:

RV Parking
Tent Camping
OHV
Biking
Hiking
Horse Trails
Hunting
Wildlife Viewing

10 Patterson Pass Campground - Boondockers Friendly 10 Patterson Pass Campground 1 - Boondockers Friendly 10 Patterson Pass Campground 3 - Boondocking

11. Great Basin National Park Free Camping – 46 Miles: – Kalamazoo

Address
Kalamazoo Road
Ely, Nevada
GPS: 39.567273, -114.59584
Elevation: 7051′

Management – Public – Forest Service

Kalamazoo is open Jun-Sep. Nice spots next to a stream with wild trout. Site has one “bomb drop” toilet but no water spigot. Trees provide shade along hillsides. Occasional local rancher or Hunter traffic passes through the road going through camp areas. Has fire rings too. Beautiful scenery with lots of deer around.

12. Great Basin National Park Boondockers Friendly Spots – 47 Miles: – Summit Spring

Address
Nevada
GPS: 38.815683, -115.301865
Elevation: 6690′

Management Public – Forest Service (Unofficial)

The road in is Dirt and 1 miles from a paved road. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is unlimited. We drove a little further east and took one of the other dirt roads north of the highway. We eventually came across a campsite, complete with a picnic table and fire pit. It was right next to a creek that was cemented up, but at least the fall colors were beautiful. We were really cold that night (mid-October), so be prepared!

Amenities:

Fire Ring
Pets Welcome

Activities:

RV Parking
Tent Camping
OHV

12 Summit Spring 1 - Boondockers Friendly 12 Summit Spring - Boondocking

 

Costs For Paid Camping For the Great Basin National Park

To get to Great Basin National Park you require no entrance fee. However, for all cave tours especially the Lehman Cave Tour you will have to pay a fee charged per person. The camping fees are $ 15 per night in the developed campgrounds like the Baker Creek while there is no camping fee in primitive campgrounds (Snake Creek). In Grey Cliffs Group campground you are charged a fee of $15 for individual sites while for group sites you pay $30 per night.

Great Basin National Park has paid camping that include developed campgrounds, RV campgrounds, and car camping where you can camp when you visit the park. The following are the Great Basin National Park camping spots with descriptions of possible things that you can see and do. Weigh the distance to determine if paid or boondocking is the most cost effective for you:

1. Lower Lehman Creek Campground

When you use the Baker entrance to enter Great Basin National Park, this campground is one of the first ones that you encounter. It is a developed campground and is open throughout the year hence you are sure of getting a campsite even during the off-season. This creek has 11 sites and is located on the smaller side of Great Basin National Park. The sites are given based on the first-come, first-served approach. This campground also allows RV parking. Lower Lehman Creek is very close to the Lehman Creek Trail and Lehman Caves hence it is suitable when you want to explore the two areas.

2. Upper Lehman Creek

This developed campground is most suitable for visitors who want to easily access the hiking trails. The campground has 24 sites which are open only from May to October. The campground also accommodates trailers and small RVs besides the campsites which are given on a first-come, first-served basis. Lehman Creek Trail starts from this campground.

3. Wheeler Peak Campground

Wheeler Peak Campground is another developed campground in Great Basin National Park which has 37 campsites. You have to drive 12 miles on the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive for you to locate this campground. The campground is therefore close to the Wheeler Peak Summit Trail and the Wheeler Pick Scenic Drive hence the best camp for visitors interested to hike or drive. It is open from May to October hence closes during winter.

4. Baker Creek Campground

This is the largest developed campground found in Great Basin National Park which has 38 campsites. This campground is most suitable for visitors who want to go hiking in the Baker and Johnson lake Loop Trails. It only accommodates trailers and RVs of medium size. It is open from May to October during the summer.

5. Grey Cliffs Campground

You will have a short drive along Baker Creek Road for you to reach this developed campground. The campground has 12 individual sites and 4 group sites. The group sites can accommodate a maximum of 12 people and reservations are required. This campground has no potable water and you will have to get it from the neighboring Baker Creek Road campgrounds. The campground is also open only during the summer season.

6. Snake Creek Road Campgrounds

These primitive campgrounds along Snake Creek Road are not developed but they offer a great camping alternative to the developed ones in Great Basin National Park. Each of the campsites in these campgrounds has a picnic table and also most of them have fire rings. Each of the campsites can accommodate up to 15 people. These campgrounds also have no trash facilities or restrooms and hence you are required to bury your waste away from the water sources and carry your trash. RVs and trailers are not recommended in these campsites. The good thing about these campsites is that they are free.

7. Whispering Elms Motel

Whispering Elms Motel & campground is an RV campground that is the closest to Great Basin National Park. It has many campsites where only 6 people are allowed per site and you are charged $30-40 per night. This campground has fascinating views and clean facilities. There is a free pool, restaurant, WiFi, TV, among many other amenities.

8. The Border Inn Campground

This is another RV campground located just about a 15-minute drive from Great Basin National Park and has a motel, small casino, and a gas station. The charges here are $25 per night which is affordable to many visitors.

9. Elly KOA

Elly KOA is in Elly town, one hour drive to Great Basin National Park. The campsites are plenty here where you are charged a fee of between $40 and $60. The campsites are of different sizes and they can host 2-8 people. The amenities in this campground include free WiFi, a fire pit, and a dog park.

10. Cave Lake State Park

Cave Lake State Park consists of two developed campgrounds which are Elk Flat and Lake View campgrounds which can be accessed by driving about one hour towards the northwest of Great Basin National Park. Cave Lake has 32 campsites where you pay a fee of $15 per night. There is a small lake as well as plenty of hiking trails in Cave Lake State Park hence making it an excellent campsite for you.

Things to Do at the Great Basin National Park

The following are must-do things when you tour the Great Basin, National Park:

1. Lehman Caves Tour

Your tour to the Great Basin National Park cannot be complete if you fail to see the Lehman caves. The Lehman Caves Tour is the most popular activity that you can do in this park. In the Lehman Cave tours, you are guided by rangers and you can do the tour any day for the whole year with an exception of Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and Thanksgiving Day. For weekends you can book for the tour 3-4 weeks before and 1-2 weeks before if you are planning to have the tour on weekdays during summer.

This tour involves two main classifications; the Lodge Room Tour and the Grand Palace Tour. In the Lodge Room Tour, you cover a distance of 0.4 miles within 60 minutes, and its highlights are the Music Room, Lodge Room, and Gothic Palace. On the other hand, in the Grand Palace Tour, you are taken through the Lodge Room, Gothic palace, Grand Palace, Music Room, and Inscription Room where you cover 0.6 miles in about 90 minutes. Both tours are limited to only 20 visitors.

2. Scenic Drive

Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive is another thing that you must do once you visit Great Basin, National Park. Through this activity, you will see all the sceneries for about 12 miles up the mountain. During this drive, you should have stops at Wheeler Peak and the Mather.

3. Hikes and Backpacking Trails

When you visit the Great Basin National Park, there are many hikes that you can take for a day. You can also do backpacking after obtaining a backcountry camping permit from the visitor center. This is essential because it allows others to know exactly where you are. Alpine Lakes Loop Trail allows you to come across two beautiful lakes and the view of Wheeler Peak. The two lakes are called Stella and Teresa. With a starting elevation of 9800 feet, you can easily access Sky Island Forest Trail even with a wheelchair where you are led to the alpine conifer forest. The other trails include Lexington Arch Trail, Lehman Creek Trail, Wheeler Peak Summit Trail, Baker Lake Trail, and Johnson Lake Trail.

4. Walking across the ancient Bristlecone pines

The Bristlecone pines are plant species with a great attraction in the Great Basin National Park. They can survive even under harsh conditions and, therefore, of all the trees, they are the ones which have lived for the longest time. The woods of these trees are resistant to fungi, rot, and insects because of growing very slowly due to high elevations, strong winds, and cold temperatures. The three Bristlecone pine groves that you can find in the Great Basin National Park are the Wheeler Peak Grove, Mount Washington Grove, and the Eagle Peak Glove. The most accessible grove is Wheeler Peak Grove while the others are difficult to access.

5. Astronomy and Astrophotography

The Great Basin National Park is unique because it is also an International Dark Sky Park and many people gather here just to see the amazing night sky. It is only in the Great Basin National Park that you can see the Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxies, satellites, and five planets with your naked eyes. Stargazing in this park is excellent due to factors such as high elevation, low humidity, and less light pollution. Anytime you visit the Great Basin National Park, this should be one of your must-do things.

Top Trails to Hike at the Great Basin National Park

The hiking season is limited from June to September due to an elevation mark of beyond 13000 feet in this park. The following are the Great Basin National Park’s most popular hiking trails:

1. Wheeler Peak Summit Trail via Stella Lake Trail

1 Wheeler Peak Summit Trail via Stella Lake Trail-1 Great Basin National Park

Wheeler Peak is the second tallest peak in Nevada. This makes the peak a great option for any hiking enthusiast who tours the Great Basin, National Park. Wheeler Peak also has an easy ascent due to its trail condition and you will only cover a distance of 8.2 miles for this hike. In this trail, you gain an elevation of around 2900 feet. This becomes your biggest obstacle. The difficulty level in Wheeler Peak Summit Trail is advanced.

Length: 8.2 mi
Elevation gain: 2,906 ft
Route type: Out & back

Interactive Map

Hiking
Nature trips
Bird watching
Forest
Lake
River
Views
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Rocky
Scramble
Snow
No dogs

1 Wheeler Peak Summit Trail via Stella Lake Trail Great Basin National Park x

2. Lexington Arch Trail

2. Lexington Arch Trail-1 Great Basin National Park

The next time you plan for a hike, an all-day excursion to the Lexington Arch Trail which is in the south of the Great Basin National Park will be an amazing commitment. The Arch attracts the attention of most of the people who visit the park. However, due to the limited resources on the Arch and its remote location, access to it gets difficult. You will cover a distance of 3.4 miles for your hike and gain a total elevation of 820 feet from a 7400-feet starting elevation. It is essential to know how the general access is and the trail conditions before you start the hike. The difficulty level experienced in Lexington Arch Trail is immediate.

Length: 6.3 mi
Elevation gain: 1,430 ft
Route type: Out & back

Interactive Map

Dogs on leash
Kid friendly
Hiking
Nature trips
Walking
Bird watching
Cave
Views
Wildflowers
Washed out
No shade

2. Lexington Arch Trail Great Basin National Park

3. Bristle and Alpine Lakes Loop Trail

3. Bristle and Alpine Lakes Loop Trail-1 Great Basin National Park

Alpine lakes are other fascinating features that you find in the Great Basin National Park. You can access a couple of these lakes from the Alpines Lakes Loop which brings you back to the point where you started the hike. The Alpines Lakes Loop starts at the parking lot of the Wheeler Peak campground and you cover a total distance of 5.3 miles. While taking the hike you have access to the beautiful views of the Jeff Davis and the Wheeler peaks. The level of difficulty in this hike is immediate.

Length: 5.3 mi
Elevation gain: 1,020 ft
Route type: Loop

Interactive Map

Hiking
Nature trips
Walking
Bird watching
Forest
Lake
Views

3. Bristle and Alpine Lakes Loop Trail Great Basin National Park

4. Sky Islands Forest Trail

4. Sky Islands Forest Trail-1 Great Basin National Park

Sky Islands Forest Trail is a 0.3 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Baker, Nevada that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and nature trips and is best used from June until October.

Length: 0.3 mi
Elevation gain: 19 ft
Route type: Loop

Interactive Map

Wheelchair friendly
Kid friendly
Stroller friendly
Hiking
Nature trips
Walking
Forest
Views
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Fee
No dogs

4. Sky Islands Forest Trail Great Basin National Park

5. Bristlecone-Glacier Trail

5. Bristlecone Pine Glacier Trail

Bristlecone-Glacier Trail helps you to see the only remaining glacier of Nevada. This trail is a continuation of the Bristlecone Trail and hence it is a combination of two trails. The total round trip distance that you cover is 4.6 miles and has a difficulty level of a beginner.

Length: 4.5 mi
Elevation gain: 1,059 ft
Route type: Out & back

Interactive Map

Kid friendly
Hiking
Walking
Bird watching
Running
Forest
Lake
Views
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Rocky
No dogs

5. Bristlecone Pine Glacier Trail Great Basin National Park

How Much Time Do You Need For Your Visit

The time you spend at Great Basin National Park depends on the things that you decide to do there. For instance, if you are only doing the scenic drive and the Lehman Caves tour two days will be enough for you. However, if you are a passionate and enthusiastic hiker and probably you want to do more things like backpacking overnight, 3 or 4 days will be enough.

Accommodations and Dining Near the Great Basin National Park

Your accommodation options are not that many in Great Basin National Park and you can either stay within the park or outside in the vicinity. Within the park, you can either camp at the developed campgrounds or primitive campgrounds. An example of the developed campground is the Wheeler Peak and that of a primitive campground is Snake Creek campground. Outside the park, you can stay in RV campgrounds such as the Border Inn and Elly KOA. About dining, when you visit Great Basin National Park, you either prepare your food or you can eat in cafes and restaurants such as the Lehman Caves Visitor Center cafe, and T&Ds in Baker.

Best Time to Visit the Great Basin National Park

When you visit Great Basin National Park in different seasons, you will have a unique feel for each of them. For instance, during spring the snow in the higher elevations starts to melt into streams and that is beautiful to see. However, the best time to visit Great Basin National Park is during summer and fall. During summer and fall accessibility in the park is easier. During summer, you should hit the trails in the early hours of the day to avoid the afternoon thunderstorms.

Great Basin National Park Panorama

What to Pack For Your Visit To the Great Basin National Park

What you pack for your visit to Great Basin National Park will depend on a couple of factors. These factors include your preferred campground, the kind of things or activities you will be doing in the park, and the time/the season when you visit the park. Below are some of the things that you will need:

-Camping stove for cooking
-Pop-up canopy to protect yourself from intense sun
-Water or portable water containers
-Cooler for hot temperatures during summer
-Great Basin National Park Guide book for getting the proper information about the park.

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