2017’s ski trip to Utah took us to two parks, Great Basin and Arches. Of course, I’ve been to Arches before, but I definitely wasn’t going to turn down the chance to return to my favorite park!
Our first stop was Great Basin National Park, a little park in eastern Nevada (almost Utah). I think that of all the parks I’ve visited, this is the most remote one. The park ranger told us that the closest towns with decent grocery stores were Cedar City, Utah (near Zion, about 2.5 hours from Great Basin) or Las Vegas (4.5 hours away). Getting to this one from Salt Lake City was a long process, but absolutely worth it. The road to the park is Nevada Highway 50, which was referred to at the gas station on the state line as “The Loneliest Road in America”. I can absolutely believe it. The roads in that area were the epitome of what I think of when I think of the west–mountains in the distance and huge, flat plains in front of them. It was absolutely incredible. We left shortly after sunset, and the sky was so pretty when we left.
I was excited to visit Great Basin. It’s home to bristlecone pines, which I learned about in my horticulture class last year. Unfortunately, going in the winter means that the road going up the mountain is closed. I’m still sad about that, but it just means I get to go back! We did get to do a tour of the Lehman Caves, though, and those were very cool. The caves there were much smaller than Mammoth Cave (obviously, since Mammoth is the largest cave system on Earth), but they were beautiful. We learned on the tour that Native Americans used to bury their dead in the caves and were able to see the natural entrance and the light of day when they shut the lights completely off.
On our way back to Salt Lake City, we stopped back at Arches. I was determined to see the Delicate Arch in the snow, so we went to the visitor center to buy crampons. For the most part the hike was dry and easily doable, but there were a few steep spots that were almost solid ice. There were a lot of people trying to do it just in normal tennis shoes which looked really scary. It was worth the scary hike to return to one of my favorite places I’ve ever been!