Great Basin National Park is a remote park with little advertising and fanfare to speak of. Don’t let the lack of attention be discouraging, however, as this desert mountain range is an absolute gem for outdoor enthusiasts, mountain lovers, and those who seek a true wilderness destination.
While there are many hikes that can be done in the park, most people visit GBNP to summit Wheeler Peak (13,065 feet). Wheeler Peak is the second tallest peak in Nevada, and it is easily one of the most impressive. The Wheeler/Jeff Davis cirque is absolutely towering, and Nevada’s only glacier rests at the base. Slightly below the cirque is a grove of bristlecone pine trees, the oldest living species on the planet.
If you are attempting Wheeler Peak in the winter, you'll need to start from a different trailhead. Otherwise, from the Wheeler Peak Trailhead, follow the signs to reach the obvious ridge. From the ridge, it is a steep Class 2 hike to the summit. Take in the outstanding views from the summit of the entire Snake Range and the surrounding West Desert. The views are enormous. During the ascent, Jeff Davis Peak (12,717 feet) stands in the distance, enticing the adventurous hikers to connect the Wheeler/Jeff Davis ridgeline to get another summit. This is highly encouraged. The ridge between Wheeler and Jeff Davis is Class 2 boulder hopping, and the views are unbelievable. From the ridgeline, stare down into the endlessly deep couloir and impossibly steep cirque wall. This is a ridgeline hike like few places in the mountain West. From the summit of Jeff Davis, it is advised to retrace your steps back to the car. A loop can be made out of this hike, but it involves very strenuous hiking down a 2,500-foot boulder field. This is possible, but not recommended.
Great Basin National Park is a surprisingly beautiful park filled with mountain scenery that is rugged, wild, and astounding. Summer and fall are the best times to hike in the high country.