• Bristlecone Pine

    Great Basin

    National Park Nevada

There are park alerts in effect.
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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.

Deserts

great basin desert map

The Great Basin Desert

Wikipedia

The Great Basin Desert
Great Basin National Park is located in the Great Basin Desert, one of the four deserts of the United States. The Mohave, Chihuahan, and Sonoran deserts are typical "hot" deserts. The Great Basin Desert is the only "cold" desert in the country, where most precipitation falls in the form of snow. A desert is defined as a region that receives less than 10 inches (25cm) of precipitation per year.

Creating a Desert
The Great Basin Desert exists because of the "rainshadow effect" created by the Sierra Nevada Mountains of eastern California. When prevailing winds from the Pacific Ocean rise to go over the Sierras, the air cools and loses most of its moisture as rain. By the time the winds cross over the mountains and sweep down the far side, they are very dry and absorb moisture from the surrounding area. This drying effect is responsible for creating the Great Basin Desert.

Desert Life
Most plants and animals that live in desert environments have developed special adaptations to help them cope with the aridity and heat. These adaptations can be structural, behavioral, or physiological.

Did You Know?

Western skink

Skinks and many other lizards have the ability to rejuvenate their tails. The bright coloration of the tail in some species attracts predators to the break-away appendage, aiding in escape.