• 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 »

Interpretive Themes

What are Interpretive Themes?
Interpretive Themes are the key ideas through which the park’s nationally significant resource meanings are conveyed to the public. These themes provide the foundations for all interpretive programs and media in Great Basin National Park.


1. The Snake Range lies within the Great Basin, where Basin and Range topography, inland drainage, and a cold desert climate create a unique landscape that allows an understanding of plate tectonics, geologic time, and climate change on a grand scale in a single view.

2. Over thousands of years the forces of water, mountain building, and climatic change have formed Lehman Caves, and other caves in the park to create a window into the earth and a time capsule to the past; yet human activities can change the fragile environment in an instant.

3. Distinctive zones of plants and animals band the Snake Range in its steep rise from desert basin to alpine summit; because of the ecological isolation and limited area of these natural communities, climatic change, fire, and human impact interact here in a delicate matrix.

4. Bristlecone pines epitomize the life of the Great Basin adapting to harshness by growing slowly, recording valuable environmental history, acquiring inspirational character, and surviving to represent some of the oldest living organisms on the planet.

5. Great Basin National Park has pristine air and water, sweeping views, dark night skies, and remoteness that together provide both a scientific baseline and a reservoir of space and silence that invites introspection and contemplation.

6. The difficulty of living in the Great Basin – the necessary adaptation to aridity, isolation, and harshness – has challenged human sustainability and challenges the NPS, other land management agencies and the surrounding communities to successfully integrate economy, ecology, and culture.

Did You Know?

non-native plant, cheatgrass

One of the major ecological threats to the sagebrush-dominated Great Basin ecosystem is the introduction and spread of dozens of species of non-native plants. The most important of these, cheatgrass (or downy brome) covers the largest area: 25 million acres, one-third of the area of the Great Basin.