• Grand Palace

    Great Basin

    National Park Nevada

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  • Road Work at Great Basin National Park

    Road work will create delays on the main park road going up to Lehman Caves Visitor Center and Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive. Wheeler Peak Campground will close at noon on September 2nd and portions of the Scenic Drive. Click more for details. Updated 8/25/14 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.

Fish

Fish in the Desert?
Great Basin National Park is home to four native fish species: Bonneville cutthroat trout, mottled sculpin, redside shiner, and speckled dace. It also houses four non-native species: Lahonton cutthroat, rainbow, brook and brown trout. These were stocked in the lakes and streams of the South Snake Range until 1986.

The native fish came from historic Lake Bonneville, which covered the bottom of Snake Valley to the east of the park thousands of years ago. This lake, which was the size of today’s Lake Michigan, supported several fish species. At the end of the Ice Age, the climate gradually warmed, and the lake started drying up, eventually shrinking down to the size of the current Great Salt Lake. Some of the fish found refuge in the streams coming down from the mountains and adapted to life in flowing waters.

The fish in these streams survived for thousands of years through droughts, fire, and other events, but eventually they encountered problems. When early settlers and miners came, they wanted to catch fish they were familiar with, so they stocked the streams and lakes with non-native fish. The native fish were not able to handle the extra competition, and in some cases hybridization and predation of these different species, and most of them disappeared. Since the mountains streams are isolated from each other, the native fish could not swim to a different stream and find a new home.

 
Bonneville Cutthroat Trout
Bonneville Cutthroat Trout
NPS PHOTO
 

In 1999, the park began a program to reintroduce native Bonneville cutthroat trout, which now inhabit five of the six streams where they once lived. In 2005, due to the success of the Bonneville cutthroat trout reintroduction program, the park instituted a program to complete the fish assemblage in selected streams. Mottled sculpin, speckled dace, and redside shiner were reintroduced into lower Strawberry and South Fork Big Wash Creeks. Monitoring over the next years will allow park staff to determine the outcome of this innovative project.

Non-native fish populations are also monitored periodically and continue to thrive with populations often estimated at about 2,000 fish per mile.

 

 

Did You Know?

Great Basin Rattlesnake

Great Basin rattlesnakes (Crotalus oreganus lutosus) are the only venomous snake species in Great Basin National Park. These rattlesnakes rarely exceed 40 inches in total length, reproduce every two to three years, and feed primarily on rodents and lizards.