Experience the Diversity of the Great Basin -
Taking a drive along the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive is a highlight of any visit to Great Basin National Park. A true mountain road, the scenic drive hugs the mountains of the South Snake Range, slowly winding you to a point above all others, where vistas reach the horizon, and one is met with a pristine view of the rugged, harsh, yet surprisingly beautiful Great Basin Desert.
Driving into the Clouds -
Starting at the Park boundary on Nevada Highway 488, the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive takes you on a paved 12 mile, out and back road to an elevation exceeding 10,000 feet above sea level, to the face of Wheeler Peak. Along this 12 mile road, you will gain over 4,000 feet in elevation, and cross through numerous ecological zones, the equivalent of driving from Baker, Nevada, to the frozen Yukon, thousands of miles to the north. As you leave the Great Basin Desert, you will be amazed as to the diversity of life that lives just feet above the barren desert beneath. It is not uncommon to see mule deer, marmots, coyotes, jackrabbits, as you climb along the road.
Sagebrush Oceans -
Starting the drive by the Lehman Caves Visitor Center, you are already at an elevation of 7,000 feet above sea level. Here you are driving through a typical Great Basin eco-region that is dominated by the low-lying sagebrush. Look closely, and you will see that it is not one, but multiple different species of sagebrush that cover the flats, all competing for valuable water and nutrients. If you are lucky enough to catch a summer rain shower, you will smell the sage filling the air.