Monday, August 31, 2009

Great Basin National Park

What an unexpected pleasure!
We decided to stop here on our way from Denver to Yosemite. Located on the Utah/Nevada border. We arrived at 1:30pm, and with only one day planned we had to make some decisions. Having already been to Mammoth Caves National Park in Kentucky we skipped Lehman caves and took the Wheeler Peak scenic drive- a very winedy drive to the top.

We then took the Bristlecone/Glacier Trail since this is what is really unique about this park. The 1.5 mile hike to the Bristlecone pines end up at about 10500 ft. was well worth the time and a bit of altitude light headed-ness. Good thing to have water and take breaks to catch your breath. Unique in shape and stature these trees are 3000 and 4000 years old and still alive.

This is a great park if you don't like crowds- unlike the more 'popular' parks like Yosemite and Grand Canyon, that have millions of visitors, we were told that this one gets about 300,000. Nice! There is a campground and I wished we had known what a nice gem this park was we would have camped here. But we had a deadline to be at Yosemite for our reserved camping and needed to move on.

There isn't much around here. The closest town is Ely about 1 hour away. Here we splurged on McDonald's and filled up the tank with gas for our 4+ hour drive to Tonapah,NV.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Inspiration for a National Park Vacation

El Capitan Yosemite National Park 2009-

We sometimes are not great at planning far in advance and with limited time off from work and conserving funds- In 2007 we decided to visit a few National Parks on the east coast and discover our own country.

In about 3 weeks, we had formulated an itinerary, packed the car with tent, sleeping bags, a weeks worth of clothes, some snacks and headed south!

Our trip included Gettysburg National Park, Great Smokey Mountain National Park, Shenandoah Valley National Park, an d Mammoth Caves. Along the way we discovered West Virginia, The Biltmore estate in Asheville, NC, Cherokee Reservation and park, The Grand Ole Opry ( the original), The Corvette Museum, the National Air Force Museum And a great German restaurant in Columbus, Ohio.

In 2008, after much discussion decided there were parts of this country we hadn’t really seen except passing through for business or over as we were getting to somewhere else. So once again about 4 weeks before my husband and I coordinated time off from work- we sketched together an itinerary.

We would head West!

Mount Rushmore, Badlands, Devils Tower, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Arches National Park, Mesa Verde and The Rocky Mountains! All in 17 days…..

We did it as well as adding Canyonlands, Monument Valley and “Four Corners”, and The Great Salt Lake.

WOW! Is all we can say.

So here it is 2009, National Parks are becoming our obsession and my husband has the luxury of a month of free time (thank you economy) and in 2 weeks we scheduled our most lengthy trip covering Yosemite, Alacatraz, Great Basin, Muir Woods, Crater Lake, Olympic, Mt Rainier, Glacier and Theodore Roosevelt. We add in Seattle, Vancouver BC and Banff National Park of Canada and WOW!

I plan to recount our trip(s) with our highs, lows, must do's and general tips.

Travel On!