Please be safe as you explore Great Basin National Park!
Cell Phone Use Cell phone reception is not reliabe in the park and surrounding areas. Do not rely on them! In case of an emergency, call 911 from a telephone or contact a park ranger or campground host.
Dehydration It is easy to become dehydrated when hiking in the dry desert air. Carry plenty of water and drink it!
Note: All surface water should be chemically treated, boiled, or passed through a filter capable of eliminating harmful microbes and parasites, such as giardia, before drinking.
Driving Driving conditions in the park can be hazardous. Please obey the posted speed limits. Use lower gears on long downhill sections to prevent overheated brakes. Use of seatbelts is required in both Nevada and the park. Please stop only at pullouts. Watch for wildlife (especially deer on the Scenic Drive and marmots on the Baker Creek Road) and pedestrians. Congestion in the visitor center parking areas can lead to accidents. The Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive beyond Upper Lehman Campground is closed to large vehicles in excess of 24 feet and trailers in excess of 24 feet in length.
Altitude Sickness Altitude sickness is a condition brought on by high elevations often in conjunction with strenuous activity. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, nausea, incoherent speech, and headache. The cure is to descend immediately. Altitude sickness can be life threatening. To avoid altitude sickness, ascend slowly, eat lightly and frequently, and drink plenty of water.
Lightning Lightning injures more people every year than wildlife. Be on the lookout for fast moving dark clouds and the sound of thunder. Move away from exposed ridges and summits. Do not take cover under trees when lightning is imminent. In open areas, crouch low to the ground. Avoid being the tallest object and don’t be around other tall objects (i.e. lone trees) when lightning is imminent.
Hypothermia Hypothermia is a serious condition in which a person’s body temperature is lowered. It can occur at temperatures well above freezing. Avoid hypothermia by wearing appropriate, layered clothing. Do not wear cotton clothing as it is very cold when wet. Carry extra clothes, drink plenty of fluids, and stay dry. Signs of hypothermia include uncontrolled shivering and slurred speech. Drowsiness, lack of interest, and incoherent speech follow. If someone shows signs of hypothermia, warm the individual slowly, replace wet clothes with dry ones and give the person warm liquids without caffeine or alcohol.
Avalanche Danger Hikers should recognize and avoid areas threatened by avalanches. Ridgelines are generally much safer to travel on than open faces or valleys. Areas with large, healthy trees are less likely to avalanche than barren slopes.
Abandoned Mines Abandoned mines are common in the park and the surrounding region. They can be extremely dangerous. Shafts and tunnels are unstable; do not enter them. Great Basin National Park is currently working to make abandoned mine lands safer.
Backcountry Hiking, Camping, Skiing Planning to spend one or more nights in the backcountry? Please register at a visitor center as a safety precaution.
Wildlife Wildlife are not tame! Do not feed any animals (including chipmunks or squirrels). Observe wildlife at a safe distance and never approach them.
Rattlesnakes are rather timid and stay camouflaged in sagebrush and rocky ledges. The greatest potential risk occurs when gathering wood, reaching into brush, or on rocky ledges. Stepping on a snake is a potential hazard, and is one reason you should stay on maintained trails where snakes are easiest to see.
Mountain lions live in Great Basin National Park. However, sighting this secretive animal is rare. Mountain lions try to avoid confrontation. If you do meet one, stay calm, do not run, and give it a way to escape. Hold your ground, face the lion and back away slowly, raising your arms to make yourself appear larger. If the lion acts aggressively wave your arms, make loud noises, and throw objects at it. If attacked, fight back! If you see or encounter a mountain lion, please report it at any visitor center.
Campfires are permitted in fire rings and barbecue grills only. Campfires must be attended at all times, and must be completely out before leaving the area. Exercise caution when using gas stoves, charcoal grills, and cigarettes. No open fires are allowed above 10,000 feet.
Dead and down wood can be gathered and used for firewood, with the exception of Bristlecone pine wood or any type of wood found above 10,000 feet. Chain saws are not permitted anywhere in the park.
Electrical Storms Electrical storms are common in the summer months, with frequent quick changes in the weather. Immediately descend to lower elevations if threatening clouds begin to build. During storms, winds at ridgelines above 10,000 feet are often 30-60 miles per hour.
Talus Slopes Talus slopes are common in the park above tree-line. Use caution when hiking in areas such as the Wheeler Peak, Bristlecone Pine, and Glacier Cirque trails. Wear proper footgear that provides ankle support and protects against sharp rocks. Don't be deceived by rocks that appear stable.
Sun Exposure Sunburn is a common problem when hiking at high elevations. The atmosphere is thin and does not filter the sun's rays, so people burn quickly. Wear a hat and sunscreen. Excessive sun exposure, combined with high temperatures, can cause heat stroke.