• Night skies over Great Basin National Park

    Great Basin

    National Park Nevada

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  • 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 »

  • 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?

Bristlecone Pine; photographed by Kathy Billings

Many of Great Basin National Park's bristlecone pines were growing at the time the Egyptians were building the pyramids. Not only are the trees themselves old, but the needles alone can be 25-40 yrs old!