Overnight in Great Basin National Park, Nevada 🏕
June 6th, 2017.
Except now we’re done driving through the Loneliest Road in America and the sun is starting to set and we need to find a place to stay at night and hopefully there’s an open campsite in Great Basin National Park. 😊
Unpredictability is part of adventure!
By the end of the day, it became apparent to me that though Highway 50 may be lonely in terms of the lack of human beings out here, there definitely is not a lack of insects on the road.
Insect population on Highway 50 = very, very populated.
In addition to seeing beautiful scenery during an entire day of looking out the window, I also witnessed several insects die brutal deaths as they crashed against the windshield of the car. A moth hit the windshield and left some residue of its wings on the glass and a beetle left a huge splatter of yellow (blood? Guts?), as you can see in the picture above. It got to the point where I couldn’t take a picture of the road without smudges appearing in the picture where the insects were on the windshield. 😐
Anyways, soon enough, my dad and I arrived in GREAT BASIN NATION PARK!!! WOOOOOOH!!! 🎉🎉🎉
We got a Great Basin map from the park service and decided to first drive up to the Lower Lehman Creek campground to see if there were any free campsites we could take for the night. The campground was 7,300 feet in elevation, so my ears popped a little while going up, and our chip bags also expanded.
The campsites in the Lower Lehman Creek campground are first-come, first-serve, like all of the other campsites found in Great Basin (except for the Grey Cliffs campground). There are a total of eleven campsites in Lower Lehman Creek, so if all of them are taken, we would either have to drive up to the Upper Lehman Creek campground (7,752 feet in elevation), or drive back down to Baker and not sleep overnight in a national park. 😶
As we drove up to the campground, we saw several cars driving down, which made us worry whether there were any campsites left. Why would people leave the park when it was nearly dark and if they had a campsite already? The road through the campground was a one-way road, so my dad had to drive up to the first campsite, then drive down the campground loop from there.
The first campsite was taken, and so was the second, and the third, and the fourth… we kept driving, but all of the campsites were taken. After we drove past the tenth campsite (also taken) — which I also thought was the last campsite — my dad and I began talking about alternative options for where we should stay overnight. We were nearing the exit of the campground loop road when suddenly (*gasp!*) I saw a paved parking spot on the side of the road.
Could it be… a free campsite?
* 🥁 drumroll please 🥁 *
YES IT WAS!!! 😆
And the campground was absolutely wonderful — it was right next to the car, which was super convenient. The previous campers left their firewood behind, which we didn’t have any use for, but it still was nice of them. 👏🏻 In addition, the entire campsite was surrounded by bushes, and wonderful views were all around us. Everywhere I looked was stunningly tinted with gold light from the setting sun.
My dad and I quickly set up the tent, making sure to stake down the tent guylines to prevent the tent from flying away during the night from wind, which created a very hilarious mental image for me of a tent parachuting up into the air and flying away like a hot air balloon. 😊
If you want to watch the time lapse of us setting up the tent, watch the gif below! The total process took about fifteen minutes, which wasn’t too bad with two people setting up a family-sized tent.
The pictures my dad and I ended up getting of our tent and campsite, though, were amazing. The picture below, especially, really captures how beautiful the campsite was. Campsite 11 was apart from all of the other campsites in Lower Lehman Creek, which I was really happy about because I make it my goal to seek out solitude during camping. Campsites 1~10 were all very closely put together, to the point where you could walk out to the road and see someone’s RV or car or tent or all of the above right next to your campsite. I guess the only downside would be that I had to walk a little bit further than everyone else within the campground to reach the bathroom, but I’d take that any day for a campsite as beautiful as the one we got.
I don’t quite know how this always happens, but somehow I always get lucky whenever I’m camping. No matter what happens, I never quite lose hope while camping that I’ll get something amazing out of every single day. For example, finding an open campsite when it was already quite late in the day — that’s definitely lucky. After we found our campsite, we saw several cars and RV’s drive around the campground loop trying to find an open campsite, which tells me that the Upper Lehman Creek campground was probably also full.
I’m so happy we got to camp in Great Basin National Park. 😄😊😝
After setting up our tent and eating, my dad and I drove up to Mather Overlook, which is 9,000 feet in elevation. Wheeler Peak is the second-tallest peak in Nevada, and I could see the peak very clearly from Mather Overlook, which was a super nice bonus. 👍🏼 Viewing scopes add another interesting factor to the overlook, and I took one of my favorite pictures of Wheeler Peak with one of the viewing scopes:
I love the how the diffused light from sunlight had tints of orange, pink, and green, and how it looked completely photoshopped when it isn’t — I just put my camera lens against the eyepiece of the viewing scope, aimed it at the peak, and snapped a picture. 😍
I followed a lightly-trodden path that led me below the area of the overlook into this rocky, tree-covered area that seemed very mystical in the soft dawn light. The vegetation and flowers in this were beautiful, and as my dad took pictures up top and made his way down, I sat down on a rock and just appreciated how serene the entire setting was.
I think part of what made the entire setting seem so magical was the moon in the sky. The sky was completely cloudless, so to have the full moon so clearly visible in the sky really made it stand out against the fading light blue of dawn.
A few travelers also came up to take pictures, but they all left within ten minutes of arriving. My dad and I stayed up there for more than an hour taking pictures and appreciating how lovely the place was, which is going to be a reoccurring theme during this entire trip: We usually get an entire place to ourselves simply because we stay there longer than anyone else.
Why would we feel tempted to leave early? My dad and I clarified beforehand that this was going to be a photography trip, and that we would not rush ourselves to visit as many places as we could in a week. We’d rather stay at fewer places and get to know those places really well, than visit all the parks there are to visit in Utah but not have enough time to thoroughly explore them.
When the sun disappeared from view, we finally decided to go back to our campsite and go to bed. Despite the fact that we didn’t hike at all that day, I felt really tired from sitting in the car for such a long period of time. In addition, the weather feels extremely stifling in Nevada — the sun here felt so different than the sun in northern California in the sense that the heat felt so much more magnified. It was dry and searingly hot and blindingly bright, so it was a relief for me to be able to look around and not feel like someone just shone a flashlight into my eyes. 😊
I ended my day peacefully sitting outside my tent in a foldable camping chair reading Outrun the Moon with a tie-dye blanket wrapped around me to shield myself from the wind. As soon as I sat down, though, the wind started to pick up as the day transitioned into night, and I decided to go to bed.
I was so excited to finally be out in nature and tent again, and I knew right then and there that it didn’t matter what did or did not happen on the trip — it was going to be life-changing and wonderful and adventurous, and I couldn’t wait to experience everything I could and use what I’ve learned on this trip in my life.
I then proceeded to lay awake for several hours on my mattress in the tent despite me being super tired, listening to the wind hit the tent and wondering how it would feel like to be in a tent that was parachuted up into air by the wind. *ahem* Not a very relaxing thought. Eventually I faded away into sleep…
… and woke up before 5 a.m.
😴 😔 😯 🙃 😆
However, something about waking up to the chirping of birds really brightens up your morning and energizes you for the rest of the day. 😊 I woke up feeling super excited to drive into Utah, and took down the tent as fast as I could with my dad so that we could get started with the drive, which would take around 5 hours.
I’m so glad I was able to camp overnight in Great Basin National Park, which wasn’t something that we clearly planned out for us to do on the trip, but did nevertheless because being on an adventure makes anything possible. 😉
For now, though… off to Moab, Utah! 🚗 🏜
Thanks for reading, and I will cya in the next post for the Summer of 2017 Road Trip!
🌵 A Little Bonus 🌵
Either on the first day or second day of this road trip, I saw this very interesting gate in the middle of nowhere. I do think that this appeared sometime during my drive on Highway 50, but I didn’t record it and therefore I don’t know for sure if this is from Nevada, or somewhere in Utah. Either way, I wanted to share these pictures so you can see how unique this place was.
We didn’t go inside, but this place advertised deer jerky on the outside, and the gates to this farm or ranch appeared to be made of deer antlers.
My dad and I tried to figure out whether the antlers were real or not, and I couldn’t really tell… but shed deer antlers seem to have a brownish tint to it, and if the antlers are weathered/dried in the sun, like these antlers were, they would whiten and get cracked. I looked at some antlers on the side, and they looked pretty bleached and cracked, so perhaps they are real antlers?
Still, it’s something I’ve never seen before, and I probably would have never seen if I didn’t look out the window while my dad was driving. Looking out the window definitely pays off. 😊
🌵 End of the Little Bonus 🌵
She lifted her arms and reached for the moon, wanting so badly to hear from them again. They said they would come back for her after they figured out why she knew of them when no one on Earth was supposed to, but years had gone by and there was still no word back from them.
Silly, childish imagination.
Her arms fell to her sides and she turned her back to the moon, getting back to work.
What else was there to do?
This post is the second post in the
Road Trip of Summer 2017 travel series
on Whisked Away By Words!
If you want to read more about my adventures road tripping and camping throughout
California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona,
head on over to the Travel Archive to view a list of all the posts in this series.