A Nevada Park That Sneaks in Under the Tourist Radar

On the Utah-Nevada border, Great Basin could be called the black sheep of the region’s national park family. Bryce, Zion, Arches, Canyonlands, even Capitol Reef, get all the attention — and annual visitors (Zion got a record 4.5 million visitors in 2017, to Great Basin’s 168,000, also a record). But, Great Basin gets something arguably better: anonymity. At some 77,000 acres, Great Basin has more than 60 miles of hiking trails.

Baker, the nearest town — population 68, as of the last census — doesn’t have very many rooms, or restaurants, or stores. But Baker is just five minutes from the park.

In Great Basin, you can totally wing it. you can arrive with no plan, no must-sees, no mental picture of the place whatsoever. It’s a rarity when traveling anywhere these days.

It was also free. As in, no entrance fee. No welcome gate. No traffic backup. Just a simple green-and-white roadside sign that reads Great Basin National Park.

People have no preconception of this national park, in part because it hasn’t been one for very long. Declared a national monument in 1922, it was only anointed national park status in 1986.

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