I had only recently learned about this park and while it’s not really near anything, it can be worked into a road trip if traveling around Utah, Nevada, and/or California. It turned out to be much better than I expected. Hiking to the bristlecone pines was unreal and continuing on to the alpine lakes was exceptionally beautiful. You can actually pretty easily do both loops in about 3 hours, totalling about 6 miles. It’s definitely worth it. I would budget a half to full day, depending on where you stay, if you just want to do one or both loops. If you want to hike Wheeler Peak, add an extra day.
See & Do
- Bristlecone Pine Grove. The oldest living things on Earth dating back to 5,000 years old! Nothing like it exists anywhere else in the world. The trail was lovely, shaded, mostly up hill. The trees are really quite cool. The contorted shapes, pines needles, and colors are impressive in person especially.
- Alpine Lakes Loop. There is one tiny lake and another larger lake at the base of the summit that makes for a lovely picture and space to relax. The forest that’s part of the trail is especially pretty in the fall when the leaves change color.
- Rock Glacier. There’s a glacier in Nevada!
- Wheeler Peak. The main summit peak of the park. There is a base parking lot for several trailheads, including to the summit. Plan at least half a day for the summit hike.
- Lehman Caves. I didn’t do this, but it sounded cool. Reservations required.
- Cave Lakes State Park. Really beautiful lake for swimming with camping options.
- Wood Charcoal Ovens. Old wood burning ovens.
- Lodging. You can camp at the park, but just know it’s at 10K feet elevation so it gets cold! Baker is nearby but not many options. Ely is farther away but more options.
- Hiking. There’s a shared initial path to both the bristlecone and alpine lakes trails. I was surprised how fast the hike seemed, I must have zoned out or been very enthralled with the scenery. If you have to pick one, I would choose the bristlecone pines, they are absolutely fantastic. The elevation is high so if you’re not acclimated it might be tough so pace yourself, rest, and drink plenty of water.