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Great Basin National Park, located in eastern Nevada, is one of America’s most stunning national parks. The park features the 13,065′ Wheeler Peak, a mammoth mountain that dominates the skyline. At the base of the peak you’ll find the Lehman Caves, a spectacular cave system that is over 2 miles in length, the longest in Nevada. Great Basin is also home to several stands of bristlecone pines, considered to be some of the oldest living organisms in the world.

Needless to say you’ll have plenty of natural wonders to explore during your visit. We think the best way to experience everything that Great Basin has to offer is to spend a few nights under the stars in your tent or RV. Great Basin National Park has plenty of camping options from the five developed campgrounds within the park, to the primitive sites along Snake Creek Road, to the abundance of backcountry options as well as nearby RV and dispersed campsites. 

Keep reading to learn all the details you’ll need to plan your perfect camping trip in Great Basin National Park. 

Aspen tree in front of Wheeler Peak in Great Basin National Park.

Great Basin National Park has plenty of options for your perfect camping trip.

 

In this post

 

Great Basin National Park Campgrounds

There are five developed campgrounds within Great Basin National Park. These campgrounds are generally located in the northern section of the park off of Highway 488, the main road in the park. Access is through the town of Baker, NV, the main gateway to Great Basin National Park.

In addition to the developed campgrounds you’ll also find primitive campgrounds located along Snake Creek Road that generally require a 4WD vehicle to access. Snake Creek Road is located in the southern section of the national park, with access from Garrison, NV.

The map below gives you a general sense of where each of these campgrounds are located in Great Basin National Park as well as their relation to the surrounding area. 

Map of campgrounds in Great Basin National Park.

Campgrounds in Great Basin National Park. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

The majority of the campgrounds in Great Basin National Park are open seasonally from approximately May – October. However, Lower Lehman Creek Campground is open year round as are the primitive sites along Snake Creek Road. Peak season for camping in Great Basin is during the summer, from approximately June – August.

Keep reading to learn about reservations and permits for camping in Great Basin National Park. 

Reservations & Permits

Only the Grey Cliffs Campground in Great Basin National Park accepts reservations, while the others are all first-come, first-served. Reservations can be made at Grey Cliffs from Memorial Day through the end of September, and can only be made for tent camping sites. No RV camping reservations are available. For all of the other sites your best bet during the peak season is to arrive early!

Reservations for the Grey Cliffs Campground can be made through Recreation.gov at the link below:

Reservations for the Grey Cliffs Campground can be made here via Recreation.gov

For those interested in exploring the backcountry of Great Basin National Park there are countless opportunities for backcountry camping in the park. Although it is not required, backcountry campers are strongly encouraged to register with the National Park Service before heading out. Registration is free and can be completed at either the Great Basin Visitor Center or Lehman Caves Visitor Center.

We highly recommend all backcountry campers register as this will ensure the NPS knows you are in the wilderness should anything go wrong on your trip. Learn more about backcountry camping in Great Basin National Park in this section.

View of Wheeler Peak from the Great Basin Backcountry.

Be sure to register with the NPS prior to setting out on a backcountry camping trip in Great Basin National Park. Photo credit NPS.

 

Developed Campgrounds

There are five developed campgrounds for those looking to car camp in Great Basin National Park. These campgrounds vary in size and all are located in the northern section of the park. Details for five campgrounds are below.

Note that while none of the individual campgrounds feature a dump station, there is one available on the road leading to the Lehman Caves.

Lower Lehman Creek Campground

Number of Sites: 11 sites
Fee: $15/night
RVs: Yes, limited number of sites available.
Reservations: First-come, first-served.
Season: Open year round.
More Information

A trail through the Lehman Caves in Great Basin National Park.

The Lower Lehman Creek Campground is the perfect place to spend the night before exploring the Lehman Caves. Photo credit NPS.

 

The Lower Lehman Creek Campground is one of the first campgrounds you’ll encounter upon entering Great Basin National Park through the Baker entrance. This is the only campground that is open year round in the park, so will be your best bet during the off season. Lower Lehman Creek is on the smaller side with only 11 sites, so be sure to get there early to snag a campsite!

The campground does not accept reservations and all sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The campground has a few campsites that can accommodate pull-thru RV parking, but the ground tends to be uneven and can make it difficult to find a level spot. Tent campers should be just fine as all of the sites have sufficient space for a tent or two.

Click here to view a map of the Lower Lehman Creek Campground

Lower Lehman Creek is located close to the Lehman Caves and the Lehman Creek trail and makes a great place to spend the night prior to exploring the area.

 

Upper Lehman Creek Campground

Number of Sites: 24 sites
Fee: $15/night
RVs: Yes
Reservations: First-come, first-served.
Season: Open seasonally from May – October.
More Information

The Upper Lehman Creek Campground is perfect for those looking for easy access to hiking trails, as the Lehman Creek trails starts directly from the campground. Located just off Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, the campground features 24 sites that are open seasonally from May – October. The campground can accommodate small RVs and trailers, but be prepared for an uneven ground surface.

All of the campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so be sure to arrive early during peak season to secure a spot. The lovely Lehman Creek meanders its way through the campground, making for an atmospheric place to spend the night.

Click here to view a map of the Upper Lehman Creek Campground

The campground generally has potable water available during the peak season and features picnic tables and vault toilets.

 

Wheeler Peak Campground

Number of Sites: 37 sites
Fee: $15/night
RVs: Yes
Reservations: First-come, first-served.
Season: Open seasonally from May – October.
More Information

Wheeler Peak from Wheeler Peak Campground in Great Basin National Park.

Wheeler Peak Campground’s namesake peak. Photo credit NPS.

 

The Wheeler Peak Campgrounds sits at 9,800′ above sea level and provides a high-alpine camping experience. The campground features 37 campsites, a few of which can accommodate larger trailers and RVs. To reach the campground you’ll need to drive approximately 12 miles along Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, a steep and narrow road. It is important to note that no vehicles/trailers longer than 24′ are allowed on Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive past the Upper Lehman Creek Campground.

Click here to view a map of the Wheeler Peak Campground

This is the most convenient campground to stay at if you’re interested in hiking (or driving) to the Wheeler Peak summit. Given its proximity to the Wheeler Peak summit trail, the campground is quite popular. Be sure to arrive early as all of the sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. 

The campground generally has potable water available during the peak season and features picnic tables and vault toilets. Wheeler Peak Campground closes during the winter season.

Baker Creek Campground

Number of Sites: 38 sites
Fee: $15/night
RVs: Yes
Reservations: First-come, first-served.
Season: Open seasonally from May – October.
More Information

The Baker Creek Campground is the largest in Great Basin National Park and features 38 campsites. The campground is located at the end of Baker Creek Road, an easily passable gravel road. This is the perfect place to camp before hiking to Baker and Johnson Lakes, which is a popular loop trail in Great Basin.

Click here to view a map of the Baker Creek Campground

Baker Creek can accommodate medium sized RVs and trailers, but be aware that the road leading through the campground is quite narrow. As with the majority of the campgrounds in Great Basin National Park, all of the sites at Baker Creek are first-come, first-served. Similarly, the campground is only open during the summer season from May – October.

Grey Cliffs Campground

Number of Sites: 12 individual sites + 4 group sites
Fee: $15/night for individual sites, $30/night for group sites
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Click Here to Reserve
Season: Open seasonally from May – October.
More Information

The Grey Cliffs Campground is located a short-drive up Baker Creek Road. This excellent campground features 12 individual sites as well as 4 group sites. The group sites can accommodate up to 12 people. Reservations are required for any of the group sites and can also be made for the individual sites at the Grey Cliffs campground. Make your reservations via Recreation.gov here. Note that there is a two night minimum for any camping reservation at Grey Cliffs.

Click here to view a map of the Grey Cliffs Campground

It is important to note that there is no potable water available at the Grey Cliffs Campground. Campers will have to get their water from the Baker Creek Campground, located approximately 1.5 miles up Baker Creek Road.

Snake Creek Road Primitive Campgrounds

In addition to the five developed campgrounds described above, Great Basin National Park also features primitive campgrounds along Snake Creek Road. Snake Creek Road begins in the town of Garrison, NV and winds its way for approximately 8.5 miles into the heart of Great Basin National Park. See the map below for more detail.

Map of campgrounds along Snake Creek Road in Great Basin National Park

Map of campgrounds along Snake Creek Road in Great Basin National Park. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

Number of Sites: 12 campsites – please camp at designed sites only!
Fee: Free
Capacity: Up to 15 people / 6 pack animals / 6 vehicle per site
RVs: Not recommended
Reservations: First come, first served
More Information

Although they are not developed campgrounds, the primitive sites along Snake Creek Road provide an excellent option for camping in Great Basin National Park. Each of the campsites along Snake Creek Road include a picnic table and many have fire rings. The park service requires that you place your tent within 30′ of either the picnic table or fire ring. The campsites are generally quite large and can accommodate groups of up to 15 people.

There are no restrooms or trash facilities along Snake Creek Road, so always be sure to bury your waste (at least 100′ from the nearest water source!) and pack out all of your trash. Water can occasionally be drawn from Snake Creek, but must be treated.

The road itself can be quite tough at times, so a high clearance vehicle is recommended. While you may be able to pass some portions in a smaller passenger vehicle, we don’t recommend it. For these same reasons RVs and trailers are not recommended for any of the campsites along Snake Creek Road.

Best of all, the campsites along Snake Creek road are all first-come, first-served and free of charge. In order to preserve these great campsites for future visitors it is very important to practice Leave No Trace principles when camping in this section of Great Basin National Park.

 

Backcountry camping in Great Basin National Park

Backpacking in Great Basin National Park is often overlooked for other, more glamorous trips in the bigger national parks. It shouldn’t be! While Great Basin only boasts 60+ miles of trails to explore, you’re bound to encounter few, if any, other backpackers during your trip. That fact combined with the lack of a permitting system making planning a backpacking trip in Great Basin National Park an easy endeavor. Read on to find out what you need to know.

A hiking trail in Great Basin National Park

 

Backcountry Camping Registration

Registration is not required for backcountry camping in Great Basin National Park. However, we strongly recommend that all backcountry campers take the time to register prior to embarking on their trip. Registration is free and it is always a good idea of let the NPS know where you plan to be should something go wrong. Registering also helps the NPS understand visitor usage in the park and better preserve this important ecosystem.

Backcountry camping registration can be completed at either the Lehman Caves or Great Basin Visitor Centers in Great Basin National Park. Prior to registering, it is important to keep a few key regulations in mind:

  • No more than 15 people per group.
  • No backcountry camping is permitted in the Wheeler Peak Day Use or Lexington Arch Day Use areas.
  • Camping is not allowed in bristlecone pine groves.
  • Camping is not allowed on the Osceola Ditch trail.

Outside of the restrictions above, backcountry camping is permitted in most areas of the park. You’ll want your campsite to meet the following guidelines provided by the NPS:

  • Be at least 1/2 mile from the nearest trail
  • Campsites must be 1/4 mile from the nearest park facility (campgrounds, trailheads, etc.)
  • At least 100′ from any water source
  • 500′ from any archeological site (mines, ruins, etc.)
  • Fires are prohibited above 10,000 feet

For a full list of backcountry camping regulations in Great Basin National Park visit the NPS website here. 

Where to camp in the Great Basin backcountry

Great Basin National Park does not have designated backcountry campsites. Rather, the NPS recommends that backcountry hikers camp at obvious campsites which have been developed by previous users. These should be fairly obvious on the trail as you’ll generally be able to see where tents have been placed, logs arranged for seating, etc.

Regardless of where you decide to pitch your tent you’ll need to be at least 1/4 mile from the nearest road,  and avoid close proximity to water sources, other campers, structures, and trails.

Pyramid Peak Loop

The most popular backcountry trip in Great Basin National Park is the Pyramid Peak Loop. This 13 mile loop makes the perfect overnight trip in the Great Basin backcountry and provides excellent views of Wheeler Peak while visiting both Baker and Johnson Lakes. Find additional information on this excellent trip below:

You can view a full list of the hiking trails in Great Basin National Park here. 

Great Basin National Park backcountry

Backcountry campers will have plenty of trails to explore in Great Basin National Park. Photo credit NPS.

 

Great Basin National Park Camping Must Know

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to ensure you have a great time camping in Great Basin National Park. Before we dive in, there are a few important regulations to note:

  • The maximum stay at any campground or campsite is 14 days
  • Tents must be placed within 30 feet of the campsites fire ring or picnic table
  • Always pay your campsite fee within 30 minutes of arrival

More detailed information on fires, pets, wildlife, and more can be found in the sections below.

Campfires in Great Basin

Fires are permitted at all of the developed campgrounds as well as the primitive campgrounds along Snake Creek Road. At these locations, your fire must be fully contained within the provided fire pit/fire grate and should never be left unattended.

In the Great Basin backcountry, campfires are allowed as long as you are below 10,000′. Above this elevation fires are prohibited. If you are camping in an area of the backcountry where fires are allowed, be sure to follow these regulations:

  • Only build fires in areas of bare soil or snow.
  • There must be at least a 10′ clear area around the fire.
  • Do not clear vegetation to create a fire pit.
  • Do not construct a stone ring fire pit.
  • Ensure the fire is completely out before leaving your campsite.

Gathering of wood in Great Basin National Park is permitted, so long as it is already dead and on the ground. You are not allowed to cut any living trees, shrubs, etc in the National Park for use as firewood. It is also important to ensure that any wood you bring into the park is properly sourced, as firewood can introduce invasive pests that can cause irreparable damage.

Campfire in Great Basin National Park

 

Wildlife

The high desert landscape of Great Basin National Park is home to a diversity of wildlife. Many of these animals have adopted specific adaptations to survive in this unique environment. While most visitors are unlikely to encounter many of the animals that live in the park, campers should be aware of a few specific species:

  • Coyotes: This is mammal you are most likely to encounter on a camping trip in Great Basin. Be sure to securely store all food, especially in the backcountry to limit your impact.
  • Snakes: Great Basin is home to several snake species, most notably the rattlesnake. Snakes are most active at night, but be sure to always be scanning the trail for them.
  • Mountain lions: Mountain lions are solitary animals and they are incredibly rare to see in person. However, campers and especially those in the backcountry should always be aware of their surroundings.

Learn more about the wildlife in Great Basin National Park here.

Mountain lion perched on a rock.

 

Pets

As with many national parks, Great Basin has restrictions about where you are allowed to bring your pet within the national park. Generally speaking, pets are allowed at the developed campgrounds and in areas immediately surrounding park buildings, such as visitor centers. In addition, pets are allowed on the Lexington Arch trail.

Pets are not allowed on any other trails in Great Basin National Park or anywhere in the backcountry. This includes the primitive campgrounds along Snake Creek Road.

If you do plan on bringing your pet to Great Basin National Park, please follow these guidelines:

  • Pets must be on a six-foot leash at all times.
  • Please pick up your pet waste.
  • Always practice Leave No Trace principles.

You can find the full list of pet regulations on the Great Basin National Park website here. 

 

Where to get supplies

Great Basin National Park is nothing if not remote. Located in far east Nevada, the park provides a true wilderness experience. All that solitude makes it important to be prepared for your camping trip as there aren’t many services close to the national park.

Check out your best bets for stocking up prior to your Great Basin National Park camping trip below:

  • Baker, NV: Baker is considered the gateway to Great Basin National Park. Located just a few miles from the national park, this is your most convenient option to stock up prior to your trip. Unfortunately, there aren’t a ton of services in Baker. However, you will find a gas station, several restaurants, an excellent coffee shop, a few hotels and friendly locals.

 

  • Ely, NV: For those in need of more services than what is available in Baker, you’ll need to head to Ely. Located approximately 1 hour from Great Basin National Park, Ely has an outdoor store, multiple grocery stores, and all the services you may need to stock up before your camping trip.

Camping near Great Basin National Park

Spending a few nights camping in Great Basin National Park is an experience not to be missed. However, the popularity of of camping in the park and limited availability for reservations means you may arrive to completely full campgrounds. Don’t let that deter you, though, as there are plenty of camping options just outside of Great Basin National Park. From full service RV campgrounds, to free dispersed camping check out your best bets below.

RV parked in the desert

There are plenty of RV campgrounds near Great Basin National Park.

 

RV campgrounds

Whispering Elms Motel & Campground

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $30 – $40/night depending on hookups
Capacity: 6 people per site
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here
Pets: Allowed
More Information

Located a short drive from Great Basin National Park in Baker, NV the Whispering Elms Motel & Campground is the closest RV campground to the national park. At Whispering Elms you’ll find hookups for 30/50 amps as well as water and sewer hookups. In addition to RVs, the campground can also accommodate tent campers.

Amenities include free pool, TV, WiFi, laundry facilities, and a restaurant/lodge. Whispering Elms gets great reviews for the stunning views from the campground and clean facilities.

The Border Inn

Number of sites: Limited
Fee: $25/night
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes, hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here
Pets: Allowed.
More Information

The Border Inn sits, you guess it, right on the border of Nevada and Utah, approximately 15 minutes from Great Basin National Park. More than just a campground, the Border Inn features a small casino, motel, gas station, and small convenience store.

The campground is small, but the sites are level and hookups are available. The Border Inn isn’t the most family friendly of your options near Great Basin National Park, but they provide an affordable camping option and get great reviews for the friendly staff.

 

Ely KOA

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $40 – $60/night
Capacity: 2 – 8 people depending on site.
RVs: Yes, up to 90′
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here
Pets: Allowed
More Information

The Ely KOA is located in the town of Ely, NV approximately 1 hour from the entrance to Great Basin National Park. Although a bit further from the park than other options you’ll find a predictably good campground with access to plenty of services in the town of Ely. The campgrounds feature full hookups and you’ll get access to great amenities including a dog park, free WiFi, and a fire pit.

The Ely KOA also provides sites for tent campers, making this a great option before exploring Great Basin National Park.

 

Car camping sites

If you’re looking for car camping sites near Great Basin National Park you’ll have a few good options to choose from.

In addition to the campgrounds listed below, car camping is permitted and recommend at all of the campgrounds listed in the RV camping section above.  Keep reading below to see what your best bets are for car camping near Great Basin.

Car and tent near Great Basin National Park.

There are plenty of car camping sites near Great Basin National Park.

 

Cave Lake State Park – Elk Flat Campground & Lake View Campground

Number of sites: Elk Flat (15 sites) and Lake View (17 sites)
Fee: $15/night
Capacity: None Stated.
RVs: Yes
Reservations: First-come, first-served. Group site reservations may be available.
Pets: Allowed.
More Information

Located to the northwest of Great Basin National Park, Cave Lake State Park offers two developed campgrounds that provide a good car camping option near the park. The campgrounds are located approximately 1 hour from the entrance to Great Basin and there are a total of 32 campsites at Cave Lake.

All of the campsites are first-come, first-served with the exception of a few sites that are available for group reservations. To reserve a group site, email clsp@parks.nv.gov.

Cave Lake State Park has a small lake with great fishing as well as plenty of hiking trails, making it an excellent destination in its own right.

Dispersed camping near Great Basin National Park

Your final option for camping near Great Basin National Park is to find a free, dispersed campsite on adjacent Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land which practically surrounds the national park. This land is overseen by the BLM which manages hundreds of thousands of acres of public land throughout the country and generally allows for ‘dispersed camping’ on it. You can find more information on dispersed camping on BLM land here.

There are several excellent options for dispersed camping near Great Basin National Park, and we’ve outlined your best bets below.

Tent in the desert near Great Basin National Park

Free dispersed camping is available on BLM land near Great Basin National Park.

Snake Creek Road

Snake Creek Road connects Garrison, NV with Great Basin National Park. Within the park the NPS allows for free, primitive camping along the road, as we described in the section above. Similarly, there is a free dispersed campsite on Snake Creek Road in BLM land just outside the national park boundary.

You’ll find the campsite by turning south off of the main road just prior to entering the national park. Be aware that large trailer and RVs will have trouble accessing this site.

Also, there is no bathroom or potable water source at the campsite so be prepared to be self reliant and practice Leave No Trace principles.

Sacramento Pass

The Sacramento Pass Recreation Area is located just north of Great Basin National Park along State Highway 50. This free dispersed camping area is more developed than most, and you’ll find pit toilets as well as picnic tables at the campsite here. While not as close as camping along Snake Creek Road, you’ll still only be 20 minutes from the park.

Several of the campsites are large enough to accommodate RVs and trailers, so this makes a great campground for those with a big rig.

Cleve Creek

The final option for dispersed camping near Great Basin National Park is the Cleve Creek Campground.

Cleve Creek is located to the northwest of Great Basin, just outside of Humboldt National Forest. The campground has 12 individual campsites and 1 group site. There are restrooms at the campground and each site features a picnic table. There is no potable water available at Cleve Creek, so be sure to bring all that you’ll need.

Bureau of Land Management – Ely, NV Office

For the most up to date information on dispersed camping near Great Basin National Park be sure to reach out the the Ely office of the BLM. The helpful rangers will be able to provide information on potential places to camp, fire restrictions, and other pertinent information for your trip.

Have a great trip!

That’s it! We hope you’ve found all of the information on camping in Great Basin National Park in this post helpful and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure! Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions or had a great time out camping!