Friday, April 25, 2014

Great Basin National Park and Highway

The plan (always written in sand) was to stop at three national parks on our way to the US Canadian border in Montana.  Our plan also was to avoid as much cold weather as possible, understanding that we were heading north and into higher elevations.  We did not make any reservation since our day to day travel would be determined by the weather.  Leaving Lost Wages we drove north on Route 93, the Great Basin Highway.  The road is a very good two lane that runs the whole length of Nevada from Hoover Dam to Idaho.  This route kept us off the Interstate and was good practice for the kind of roads we would encounter on the way to Alaska.  The first day we traveled 300 miles to Baker.  We had planned to not travel more than 250 miles a day the rest of the way to the border.  That changed when we could really smell the CRV's clutch (which we had checked in Desert Hot Springs) when we climbed over 3,000 feet in the mountains.  We decided to do another 300+ mile day so we could get to Twin Falls, ID where more services would be available.
This is what most of the first day looked like, long straight stretches with very little traffic.  On one section we drove almost 25 miles without having to turn the wheel. 
We did have a first time experience on Route 93.  State troopers coming from the north were having all the vehicles pull off the road to make room for a southbound wide load.  There were three RVs, a couple of trailer trucks and several cars lined up on the berm.
A few minutes later a caravan of six trucks carrying huge dump trucks came roaring by.  They took up both lanes.  After they passed we were on our way again.
When we turned east on Route 6/50 to go to Great Basin National Park this was the road we saw.  Oh no, that road looked way to steep for Opus.  It was, and fortunately, the main road went to the north and over a lower mountain pass.  You can also see the windmills, a sure sign that the rare RVer's tailwind would be a crosswind as we went through the valley.
This was our view from the RV park of Nevada's highest peak, Mount Wheeler.  We stayed at the Border Inn motel, store, casino, gas station, restaurant and RV park in Baker.  Even though we could see a lot of snow on the mountains the weather was fine in the valley.
We stayed three nights to explore the Great Basin National Park.  The park is just a small part of Great Basin, land that covers most of Nevada from California's Sierras to Utah's Wasatch Mountains.  Most of the precipitation that falls here does not flow to the oceans.  There are many lake beds in the area that are dry most of the time.  If you click on this picture to enlarge it, you may see Opus parked in that small white area on the right in the middle of the valley. 
We did a couple of day hikes in the park.  One started at 8,000 feet and we walked through many plants that were in various stages of spring blooming.  The aspens at the lower elevations were starting to get leaves while those higher up were still bare.
We saw a few deer.
We even saw a turkey.
We made it to the snow line where the trail became too covered to go on.  We did not get high enough to see the parks 4000 year old Bristlecone trees.  There is also a cave that we chose not to explore.
And right on key this marmot crossed in front of us.
Along the road from Baker to the park there are many pieces of whimsical fence art.
And we answered the question, Waldo is in Baker, Nevada.
We left Baker and got back on Route 93.  We could see snow capped peaks the entire way to Twin Falls.
Since we are going to be putting a lot of miles on this summer, it was time for Nanc to get some time behind the wheel.  Most of the times she has driven have been on the Interstates so this was good practice.
We followed this mountain range for many, many miles.  It sure was beautiful.  Looks like it is going to be the year of snow capped mountains.
This is something we saw a couple of years ago between Banff and Jasper in Alberta.  They are cross overs and tunnels for the migrating animals.  As I write we are still in Twin Falls waiting for the weather to warm up a bit and getting some final things taken care of for the summer trip north.  It is good to be back in the land of trees, green grass and water.:-) 


Bobbie and Jim said...

enjoyed the photos of fence art and Waldo. Good for Nanc getting behind the wheel for practice on the type of roads you will see going into Alaska. As always, we miss you and hope we cross paths again.

Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

Go Nanc go!