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The Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive

Wheeler Peak in Great Basin Nat'l Park
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The Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, located in Great Basin National Park, is a spectacular drive that leads to the high elevations of the park and near the base of 13,000 foot Wheeler Peak. The drive is short, just twelve miles one-way, and is on a pave road. Yet, in those twelve miles, the road gains nearly 4000 feet in elevation, taking the traveler from the sagebrush flats of the valley floor to the aspen and conifer forests found just below tree line.

The views along the drive are outstanding. Numerous pullouts exist that provide beautiful views of Wheeler Peak, other peaks of the Snake Range, and the small Wheeler Peak Glacier. This glacier is unique in that it is the southern- most glacier in the United States.

Due to the drastic elevation change, and the overall high-altitude characteristics of the drive, travelers should expect a wide range of weather. It’s not uncommon to have warm and pleasant weather at the beginning of the drive, while clouds, wind and rain and cold temperatures are found at the end of the drive. As a note of caution, the road exceeds 10,000 feet at its highest elevation. As such, the road may not be suitable for those who suffer health problems due to high elevations.

The road itself is paved and in very good condition. However, the road has a very steady and relatively steep vertical ascent (as might be expected). The road also has quite twisty, as the road winds its way along the flanks of the Snake Range. Due to this, Great Basin National Park limits vehicle and trailer length to twenty-four feet beyond the Upper Lehman Creek Campground at mile marker three.

A Seat With A View
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Several popular and scenic hiking trails begin off the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive. The Wheeler Peak Summit Trail, which leads to the top of 13,000 foot Wheeler Peak, begins at the summit trailhead. This trailhead is located about one mile from the end of the road. The Bristlecone Trail, which leads into the bristlecone forests of Great Basin National Park, is located at roads end.

Camping is available in two designated campgrounds along Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive. The Upper Lehman Creek Campground is located at mile marker three and the Wheeler Peak Campground is located at roads end. Anyone camping at Wheeler Peak Campground should expect very cold night due to the 10,000-foot elevation of the campground. In the event these two campgrounds are full, additional primitive and developed camping is available in other areas of Great Basin National Park as well [see Great Basin National Park Visitor Map for locations of all developed campgrounds].

Overall, the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive is one of the premiere scenic drives in Nevada. Although Great Basin National Park is located in a remote and isolated part of Nevada (and the United States for that matter), a visitor will find the time and effort spent to visit worthwhile. Additionally, this part of Nevada offers the adventurous traveler numerous opportunities to explore a remote and beautiful part of the state that few people ever see.

Quick Facts About the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive

  • Trip Length : 12 miles, one-way. The route begins right inside the entrance to Great Basin National Park.
  • Road Type - The road is paved for its entire distance. The road has a steady vertical ascent and lots of curves. Vehicles and trailers over twenty-four length are prohibited beyond mile three. The road is also closed during the winter (normally opens up in mid or late May).
  • RV's / Campers? - Yes. Vehicle length restricted beyond mile three.
  • Services Available - Gas and supplies can be found in Baker, which is located five miles outside of the park on Highway 488 (which is the main road used to enter the park).
  • General Location - Eastern Nevada, just south of US Highway 50 outside the town of Baker.
  • Camping - Two developed campgrounds are located along the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive. Additional camping is also available throughout Great Basin National Park (both primitive and developed camp sites).

Photos of the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive

Beginning of Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive Snowed In Campground Wheeler Peak and Aspen Trees

More Photographs of the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive

Map of the Wheeler Peak & Nearby Scenic Drives

Also View the Great Basin National Park Visitor Map

Suggested Books

Benchmark Nevada Road & Recreation Atlas : This topographic map book shows ALL roads in Nevada. This book is a mandatory requirement if you'll be venturing off the main highways shown on the tourist map. Additionally, this book shows many historical sites, points of interest and recreation areas.

More Info at Amazon

Where to Stay

There is no lodging in Great Basin National Park, so bring a tent or camper. Two designated campground are found along the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, and other camping is available throughout Great Basin National Park and on the BLM and Nat'l Forest lands outside of the park.

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