• Bristlecone Pine

    Great Basin

    National Park Nevada

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  • Wheeler Peak Summit Trail Closed

    A small smoldering fire near the trail has caused the closure of the Wheeler Peak Summit Trail. park staff is observing the fire. Check back here to get an update whne the trail will open. Alpine Lakes Loop and Bristlecone Trail are open. More »

  • Road Work at Great Basin National Park

    Road work will begin in Upper Lehman and Wheeler Peak Campgrounds. Campgrounds will be open but may be noisy and have large vehicles on the roads. The Scenic Drive is open with up to 15 min delays due to road work. Click more for details. Updated 9/9/14 More »

  • Travel Not Recommended - Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive Above 8,000 Feet

    Snow and ice may make travel on Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive unsafe, travel is not recommended at this time. Warmer weather later in the week is expected and conditions may improve. Please check back. 9/29/2014

  • Snake Creek Road and Campsites Closed

    The Snake Creek Road will be closed from the park boundary into the park to begin work on campsites, trails and restroom improvements. Work will continue until snow closes the project. Work will resume in Spring 2015.

Fremont Indians

Throughout central Utah, and into very eastern Nevada and western Colorado, archaeologists have uncovered the remnants of an archeological culture they call the Fremont, named for the Fremont River in Utah.

The Fremont differed in several ways from their more famous contemporaries in the 11th to 14th centuries, the Ancestral Puebloan peoples who built Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon. Four distinct artifacts set them apart: very unique "one rod and bundle" basketry construction, mocassins constructed from the hock of a deer or sheep leg, trapezoidal shaped figures found as clay figurines and in rock art, and the unique materials used to make their gray, coiled pottery.

Unlike native tribes before and after them, the Fremont were primarily sedentary. They built villages of pit houses with adobe structures to store food. They collected wild foods and hunted game, but also cultivated corn, beans, and squash using irrigation techniques. The presence of obsidian, turquoise, and shells show that the Fremont traded with distant villages.

Baker Village
The westernmost known Fremont site, Baker Village, is located only a few miles from Great Basin National Park. Believed to be occupied from 1220 to 1295 A.D., the site had been known to archeologists for many years because of a visible raised mound covered with a scattering of potsherds and chipped stone. From 1991 to 1994 the Brigham Young University, in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management who owns the site, conducted summer excavations at the Baker Archeological Site.

The excavations revealed a settlement of surprising complexity. Instead of a scatter of pit homes and mud-walled food storage structures, Baker Village consists of an organized cluster of over 15 buildings built according to a specific plan and aligned to a single compass direction. In the center, a larger mud-walled structure shows intriguing alignments with sunrise on the winter and summer solstices.

 

Rock Art
Evidence of the Fremont can also be found in local rock art. Upper Pictograph Cave, in Great Basin National Park, contains pictographs believed to be painted by the Fremont. The figures painted onto the rock surface with an organic pigmented mixture resemble both animal and human forms, and contain the classic Fremont style trapezoidal shapes. Other creations are more abstract, consisting of lines or dots.

 

 

Disappearing Act
All traces of Fremont culture disappear from the archeological record between 1300 and 1500 A.D. Archeologists can't quite agree on what happened, but several changes are generally blamed.

First, climatic conditions favorable for farming seem to have changed during this period, forcing local groups to rely more and more on wild food resources and to adopt the increased mobility necessitated in collecting wild food.

At the same time, new groups of hunter-gatherers appear to have migrated into the Fremont area from the southwestern Great Basin sometime after about 1,000 years ago. These full-time hunter-gatherers were apparently the ancestors of the Numic-speaking Ute, Paiute, and Shoshoni peoples who inhabited the region at historic contact, and perhaps they displaced, replaced, or assimilated the part-time Fremont hunter-gatherers.

Learn More
You can visit other Fremont Indian sites in Utah at Fremont Indian State Park, Zion National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Arches National Park, and in Colorado at Dinosaur National Monument.

Did You Know?

Century + year old orchard; Photographed by Bryan Petrytyl

The apricot trees in front of the Lehman Caves Visitor Center in Great Basin National Park are over 100 years old! The trees are thought to have been planted by Absalom Lehman, discoverer of Lehman Caves. These historic fruit trees continue to produce today.