Great Basin National Park is located in eastern Nevada and is about 3.5 hours from Salt Lake. This was stop #1 and National Park #1 on the big 10-day National Park road trip we took this past summer.
Our plan once arriving at Great Basin was to drive the scenic loop, hike the Alpine Lakes trail, and tour the Grand Palace, which is a part of the Lehman Caves. However, after we arrived to Great Basin, we found out that the scenic drive was only open to the Mather Overlook. Past that point there was still over 5 feet of snow covering the road to the top! With not many accessible hikes, we just drove along the road to the overlook and then went on a 90-minute tour of the Grand Palace.
While Great Basin isn’t one of the most popular national parks, it still has many great things to offer. With low humidity, high elevation, and decreased light pollution, Great Basin has some of the darkest night skies in the United States, making it phenomenal for stargazing. They even hold the annual Astronomy Festival at the park in September, which I would definitely want to come back and check out sometime!
After our time at Great Basin, we drove onto Tonopah, NV and stayed at the Mizpah Hotel. Apparently, this is a famous haunted hotel… I really have no idea how we both missed that part when we were booking our room, but we found out very quickly at check-in. There were lots books and memorabilia of haunted stories from the hotel at the front desk, but we agreed not to look up any stories until after we checked out. Thankfully nothing weird happened, and we drove onto our next destination of Twin Lakes, CA the next morning.
The next stop in our road trip was to Lower Twin Lakes Campground. We picked this spot because it was located close to the Tioga Road, which would’ve given us the perfect short-cut to Yosemite. Keyword being, “would’ve”. As our luck with snow and road closures thus far, the road was still closed, and instead of driving 2 ish hours to Yosemite, we had to take the long way, which was closer to 6 hours. It’s all good though, we knew it was a risk when we booked the campground. Twin Lakes was a gorgeous area, and fun to explore. It was too chilly to swim in the lake, but we enjoyed hammocking, napping, and reading near our campsite.