• Grand Palace

    Great Basin

    National Park Nevada

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  • Road Work at Great Basin National Park

    Beginning July 8, 2014 and continuing through the end of August there will be road work at Great Basin National Park on paved roads throughout the park. Delays of 10 minutes or less may occur. Updated 7/29/2014 More »

  • Astronomy Programs on Hold

    Astronomy programs are on hold while a safety review is completed for visitor and staff safety. Check back soon for an update when the programs will start again. More »

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?

Columbine

There are 11 species of conifer trees, 71 species of mammals, 18 species of reptiles, 241 species of birds, 8 species of fish, and over 800 species of plants in Great Basin National Park and the neighboring valleys.