2016 Colorado Move: Great Basin National Park

Our Colorado move has been rather light on state park/national park/national forest campgrounds. We quickly discovered that the holiday weekend results in spike in usage and you have to be in extremely early to get a walk-up spot, and there may not be one since most spots are booked for the entire weekend. 75% our nights on this trip were spent in commercial campgrounds. This was not bad, just different. And truth be told, not entirely unwelcome. We had full hook-ups and were able to run the A/C, which made sleeping bearable with days in the mid-nineties and above.

View from campsite 26 at Wheeler Peak Campground.


Great Basin National Park was the jewel of our trip. Found on multiple hidden gem lists, the rangers said that the secret is getting out. This national park is just a representative piece of the Great Basin, which covers the majority of Nevada, half of Utah, and parts of eastern California, and south eastern Oregon. The region was named the Great Basin because it has no hydro-graphic connection to the ocean. Elevation greatly influences the flora, as temperature decreases and precipitation increases. These conditions result in forests composed primarily of piñon and juniper varietals with stands of limber pine, Great Basin bristlecone pine, cottonwoods, and quaking aspen interspersed. Similar to Chisos Basin in Big Bend National Park, fauna are rare species isolated after the last ice age. Great Basin is also a gold-tier international dark sky park.

Night sky in Great Basin National Park.

The Great Basin region was inhabited by the Shoshone, Ute, Mono, and Northern Paiute tribes. Europeans first explored the region during the Spanish colonization during the 18th century.

Activities: Lehman Cave tours, hiking, caving, star gazing

Lehman Caves is part of Great Basin National Park and can be seen on a guided tour only. We went on the 60 minute Lodge Room Tour (allowed children under 5). While not as majestic as Carlsbad Caverns, it is an extremely intimate and educational tour. This cave has features actively forming, so one must be extremely cautious and not touch any of the formations. Also, they are very concerned with protecting their bats from White Nose Syndrome, so be aware that items worn in other caves that are unlikely to be washed, need to be sanitized. Review all the tour guidelines in advance to ensure that you don’t bring any contraband material with you.

Alex and Jess waving bye-bye to the deer.
Dave and Alex watching a deer.
Dave and Alex watching a deer.

Our campsite (number 26) at Wheeler Peak Campground was idyllic. Over a rise behind our campsite was a creek with a meadow nearby. Next to our campsite was another alpine meadow. We observed a deer grabbing its evening meal in the meadow by the creek. There were several trail heads available at the Wheeler Creek Campground COMove_07– Lehman Creek, Bristlecone, Glacier, Mountain View Nature (accessible), Alpine Lakes Loop trails. Other hikes are accessible at different points in the park. We were hiking the Bristlecone trail when Jess fell and lacerated her knee. This resulted in us breaking camp and driving to Delta, UT (100 miles!) to the nearest hospital with decent service. For more serious injuries, it is a Medivac flight to Salt Lake City ($40,000), so be aware that this is an isolated area. We did not finish our hike, but for more detailed information regarding the Bristlecone pines, check out this article and video from Atlas Obscura. And, the best part of all, there were rocks.

Alex found a rock.
Alex found a rock.

Overall: We really enjoyed this park. The scenery is picturesque and while it is becoming more popular, the usage is light. We look forward to going back and making Jess wear knee pads during hikes.

2016 Colorado Move: Summary

We have arrived in Loveland, CO and have internet! This is no small feat considering we are dealing with Xfinity, the re-branded Comcast. Note to all businesses, changing your name will not wash away the stink of abysmal service. You eventually will have to come up with a new name because you have not solved the underlying reasons for customer dissatisfaction. Any hoo . . .

Our move to Colorado from California did not go as smoothly as we hoped. Moving on the Fourth of July weekend and having to go through a major tourist destination does not result in good time on the road. We spent more time in commercial RV parks than typical for us, but options were limited in some of the areas we were traveling.

Route from Davis, CA to Loveland, CO.
Route from Davis, CA to Loveland, CO.

The trip covered 1,191 miles and took us over the Sierras, across the loneliest road (US-50 in Nevada), and through southern Wyoming. Abby’s mileage pulling the trailer ranged from 13.5 over the Sierras to a whopping 18 across Wyoming (tail wind aided). Dave drove Abby while Jess followed with Alex in car.

We chose to come across I-80 because the climbs were less severe than I-70 through Colorado. We did not count on the 35 mph tail wind in Wyoming which had an extremely positive effect on Abby’s mileage. Coming through Lake Tahoe on US-50 was a critical error and resulted in frustrating traffic that added 90 minutes to our trip.


  1. SacWest RV Park West Sacramento, CA: 2 night stay. Clean, trash pick up at site. Fantastic playground for Alex, pool, and a fenced in, off-leash area for dogs with agility obstacles. Full hook-ups. Restrooms closest to the office were the cleanest. The other men’s restroom, to quote Dave, ‘Looked like something completely unholy happened in it’. One stall was completely clogged and the other had poop smeared through out the stall.
  2. Fallon RV Park  Fallon, NV: 1 night stay. Clean, grass at each site, long sites that fit the 40 foot Abby/trailer combo and station wagon. Full hook-ups. Restrooms are older, but are clean. Fuel and store for supplies.
  3. Whispering Elms Motel and RV Park Baker, NV: 1 night stay outside of Great Basin National Park (will write a separate post). Full hook-ups, sites are smaller so it feels rather crowded when full. Owners are nice and found us a spot on the Fourth of July and let us stow our cargo trailer for a couple nights. Bathrooms are older, but function well and are clean. Bar is open from 4 to  8 pm and the beer selection is more diverse than Bud!

    View from behind the
    View looking way from Whispering Elms RV Park.
  4. Wheeler Peak Campground, Great Basin National Park: 1 night stay, campground elevation is approximately 10,000 feet. 8% grade for 12 miles to campground with tight turns, we left the trailer at Whispering Elms as not to tax Abby. Absolutely beautiful. For smaller rigs, well worth the journey. Check out site 25 or 26 (meadow next to site). Sites can be rather uneven, so bring leveling blocks. No hookups.

    Abby at campsite 26 in Wheeler Peak Campground
    Abby at campsite 26 in Wheeler Peak Campground
  5. Antelope Valley RV Park Delta, UT: 1 night stay, full hookups. Large levels spots with a grass next to each site and a large dirt/gravel area for dogs to be walked on leash. Very nice owners.
  6. Fort Bridger RV Park Fort Bridger, WY: 1 night stay, full hookups. Large level sites with separate parking area for tow vehicles at each site. Lots of grass and dog friendly. Owner is a veteran and is very nice.
  7. Yellow Pine Campground, Medicine Bow National Forest Laramie, WY: 1 night stay, no hook ups. Site size and levelness varies, we camped in site 12 which fit Abby, trailer and station wagon. Some sites are pull through. Surprisingly, copious amounts of mosquitoes.

Emergency Rooms:

  1. Banner Churchill Community Hospital: We stopped in Carson City, NV for lunch and discovered Alex had 102F fever; Alex received a dose of children’s ibuprofen. When we stopped for the night in Fallon and checked his temperature again, it had risen to 104F to 105F (temporal reading). We were nervous since we were going to head into an isolated area, the fever didn’t respond to medication, and Alex didn’t get upset when we turned off Cars. So Jess took him to the emergency room where his temperature was confirmed and he received a dose of Tylenol. His fever slowly came down and by the time we left he was cranky because Mama didn’t bring enough crackers. A toddler with enough energy to throw a tantrum is a toddler that is feeling good!
  2. Delta Community Hospital: Jess fell while hiking on the Bristle Cone Trail in Great Basin National Park. Unfortunately, her knee landed on a rock and caused a 3 cm laceration. Alex did not like the fact that his pack mule fell down. Dave took over Alex’s pack and we hiked back to camp. After consulting with the park EMT, we made the decision to break camp and drive to the nearest decent medical facility in Delta, UT (100 miles away!). We declined the $40,000 helicopter medivac option, it seemed a bit excessive for a laceration. Jess’ knee took 6 staples to close and the ER doctor removed a lot of debris. The experience got us to thinking that a wilderness first aid course might be extremely beneficial.