We spent all day Sunday driving The Loneliest Road through Nevada to Great Basin National Park. I never want to drive through Nevada again. I'll take Wyoming any day. The landscape was quite starkly beautiful, but I just can't handle the huge vast distances, with no people or signs of civilization.
If you're like me, you know nothing about Great Basin. The ranger described it as a representative sample of the entire Great Basin desert region, between the Sierra Nevada and the Wasatch mountains. It spans low sagebrush desert to high bristlecone forest. Sadly the highest part of the road, and those trails to the summit, were still closed due to late snowfalls, so we weren't able to get up to see the bristlecones, but it was a lovely view from down below. We took several scenic drives through the park, along Snake Creek, Baker Creek, and up as far as we could go, around 9000 ft.
The coolest part, however, was Lehman Cave. We didn't even know there was a cave in this park, and it is a rather small one compared to Mammoth or Wind Cave, but it had such beautiful intricate formations that it was definitely worth the last-minute tour! I especially loved the Cypress Swamp room, where the pools were all filled with water from the recent rain and snow.
Today we took our time driving back through Utah (I'll miss those beautiful rocks!) towards Rocky Mountain NP to explore the Western side of the park. We were shocked to hear that the seasonal scenic Trail Ridge road from one side to the other is still closed due to snow- they had expected to open it by now. But we'll explore as much of the western side as we can tomorrow, and then continue to head back East.