Wheeler Campground marks the end of the 12-mile Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive near the road's highest point in Great Basin National Park, but beyond being simply a campground - a fairly basic one at that - Wheeler Campground has several qualities that combine to make it a camping experience well worth planning for on a park visit.
At an elevation of just below 10,000 feet (9,886 feet to be exact), Wheeler Campground offers a spot to pitch a tent beneath Great Basin's sprawling dark skies for which the area is known. With the right timing and weather, campers may find themselves beneath a vast blanket of stars. Lehman Creek cuts along the campsites on the southern side of the camp loop, so those lucky enough to land a spot in that section can go to sleep with the sounds of a running creek beside them.
Additionally, the campground is located beside the trailhead for the Bristlecone Pine Trail, the relatively short trail that is an essential destination for park visitors. The proximity to the camp makes a nighttime hike to the 4,000 year old trees easily accessible; this can be a surreal experience when coupled with those quiet starry skies for hikers willing to brave to the dark and cold.
Visible towering above to the southwest is Wheeler Peak, Nevada's second-tallest mountain peak, which is accessible by a trail near the campground. Lehman Creek Trail, a hiking trail following the edge of Lehman Creek, has one terminus at the eastern end of the campground. The other is at Lower Lehman Campground, about about 2,500 feet in elevation difference down the mountain. Wheeler campground makes a great beginning point or a convenient nearby resting point following any of these hikes in the park.
Wheeler Campground shares the benefits of Great Basin National Park's location far from major highways and large cities, and it isn't often that the campground is crowded. It operates strictly on a first-come, first-serve basis, with the $12 nightly fee being payable at a kiosk upon entering the campground. (Make sure to bring cash.) The campground has 37 total sites, one being wheelchair accessible, and a restriction against any vehicles longer than 24 feet (there are no pull-through sites). Spigots with potable water sit throughout the campground; however, bathrooms contain only vault toilets with no running water, sinks or showers. An amphitheater is home to interpretive campfire and children's programs.
Overall, Wheeler Campground makes the high features of Great Basin National Park accessible while offering a simple but naturally surreal environment. Campers and adventurers will likely love this spot, while glampers may do best to find another spot.
The campground is generally open from June through October, conditions permitting. During the offseason, spigots are shut off and no water is available, and nightly camp fees drop to $6. Also, cell service is extremely spotty up here, so plan ahead.