Anne Hopkins Pfaff, who worked as a park ranger at Great Basin National Park for a number of years, says that during her time at Great Basin she enjoyed both the park and the surrounding desert. "It's a gorgeous area," she says. "I like the remoteness."
Asked what she especially likes about the 77,100-acre park, Pfaff replies, "The variety of vegetation and habitats, and the views -- especially the views that include both Wheeler Peak and out across the Great Basin, such as you get from Mather Overlook." This park, she says, "is one of America's real treasures, where you can get out on the trails and not see another human being." Pfaff says that as far as national parks go, Great Basin's campgrounds offer minimal services, and although many visitors enjoy this aspect, others miss their creature comforts, such as hot showers and RV hookups.
Pfaff says she's impressed by the age and beauty of the bristlecone pines and considers a hike to the bristlecone pine forest among the park's top experiences. Also on her list of things all visitors should do are touring Lehman Caves and taking the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive. She recommends visiting the park in September, "when the crowds are gone and the weather is usually beautiful -- not too hot at the lower elevations, but not yet snow-covered in the upper elevations."
Throughout the park are reminders of the region's mining days, and along several trails you will see the ruins of miners' cabins, mining equipment, and mine shafts and tunnels (which are dangerous and should not be entered). Just outside the visitor center is the historic Rhodes Cabin, which dates from between 1920 and 1932, when Clarence Rhodes and his wife, Beatrice, were custodians of the property for the U.S. Forest Service. The cabin, constructed of Englemann spruce and white fir, was one of nine tourist cabins built in the 1920s, along with a log lodge, a dining room, a dance hall, and a swimming tank. This particular cabin was rented to tourists until 1933, and from then until 1936, it was the home of the national monument custodian and his family. It was then used for storage before the Park Service restored it.
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