We like to refer to Great Basin National Park as Utah’s 6th national park because it is only 10 miles from the Utah border. It practically sits in Utah! We love spending a weekend every year exploring this fun park.
Great Basin is full of family adventure with cave tours, great camping, and hikes at 10,000 feet. This park is also less visited compared to some of the other national parks, so there are rarely crowds. Great Basin is a hidden gem.
Lehman Caves is definitely the highlight of this national park. You can see beautiful cave formations including cave bacon, and draperies. There are two different tours available.
The Grand Palace Tour is the best tour, but children must be at least 5 years old. This takes you to the most rooms, and shows you the famous Parachute Shield. The Lodge Room Tour is a shorter tour that welcomes all ages. There are still a lot of neat formations along the way. Tours are limited to 20 people, so make your reservations before you visit.
Related: 4 Ways to Save on National Park Fees
We camp every time we visit Great Basin. The campgrounds are clean and well maintained. There are vault toilets and clean water, but no hook-ups for RVs. There are 5 different campgrounds at this Great Basin and 4 of the 5 are first come, first served. You can make a reservation for the Grey Cliffs Campground. We usually camp in one of the two Lehman Creek Campgrounds, but spots do fill up fast.
Related: Camping Tips for Families
When you camp at Great Basin, you will notice the stars. They are beautiful, and you can see so many because there are no lights out in the middle of the desert. Great Basin National Park has been designated a Dark Sky Park. The rangers offer an Astronomy Program on Saturday nights April through October. In the summer, you can usually catch one on Tuesday or Thursday as well. Call ahead to see what their schedule is during your visit.
We had a lot of fun at the Astronomy Program. They taught us about the stars, and they had large telescopes for everyone to look at different stars or planets. We were able to get a good look at Jupiter. Our boys even earned an Astronomy Junior Ranger.
Related: Best Stargazing Destinations in Utah
There are plenty of really neat hikes that are perfect for families in Great Basin National Park. You can hike to beautiful lakes at 10,000 feet or explore the natural entrance to Lehman Cave. We are always amazed at the beauty found out in the middle of the desert. Our two favorite hikes in this National Park are:
Lake Stella and Lake Teresa: This is a 2.7 mile loop at the top of Wheeler Peak. The trail is flat and easy, and the lakes are beautiful.
Related: Tips for Hiking with Kids
Mountain View Nature Trail: This trail is found behind the Visitor Center. Make sure to pick up a numbered guide inside before you begin. This trail only takes about 30 minutes.
- Bring your own food. There are not a lot of options as far as local restaurants go, so we prefer to bring our own food, especially when we camp.
- Make a reservation for your cave tour ahead of time. The tours often sell out well in advance.
- Drive to the top of Wheeler Peak in the morning or evening. That is when the animals are out. We often see deer, turkeys, snakes, and other birds on this drive.
- Visiting Great Basin National Park is free. Cave tours require entrance fees.
We love Great Basin National Park! If you'd like to read a full review of these hikes and many others, check out our Great Basin Kid Hikes post at Utah's Adventure Family.