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Great Basin National Park Where Methuselah Trees and Fall Colors Abound
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Sunday, October 17, 2021
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY ANNE JEFFERY

 Not too far from Sun Valley is Great Basin National Park.  A great fall getaway, it is only an 8-hour drive south. And, unlike the sagebrush sea you drive through to get there, it is filled with fall colors.

It’s best to camp there, as Baker--the closest town--has very limited accommodations and services.

If you can, reserve a camping spot months in advance.  For those without a reservation, there is a 37-unit, first-come first-serve Baker Creek campground. Typically, 15 spots open up each morning, according to the campground host. The campgrounds are old so many of the spots are small, but there are a few drive-through spots for trailers.

 What to see? The Bristlecone pines for sure.  That entails a 12-mile drive up to an area exceeding 9,000 feet in elevation and a short hike to a bristlecone and limber pine grove.  Bristlecone pines are the masters of longevity enduring thousands of years and one tree in this particular grove is over 3,000 years old.  Their twisted trunks show the tenacity and difficulty of surviving so long in a harsh environment.

 Hiking trails abound from the challenging hike to the top of Wheeler Peak to less popular trails like South Fork Baker Creek to Timber Creek loop.  We saw lots of all colors and very few folks on the less popular trails when we were there in late September.

 Great Basin National Park is also the home of Lehman Caves, which weaves two miles into the eastern base of the Snake Range.  If you want to visit the cave, you need to sign up online ahead of time for a guided tour. Not signed up? You may luck out if there are standby slots available.


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