great basin national park
great basin national park map

Great Basin Highway

Park-Hopping in Paradise along US-93

Route Distance

350 to 585 miles

Suggested Time

3 to 5 Days

Positively brimming with grandeur, Nevada boasts a hefty slice of the American West’s stunning scenery, intriguing geology, and natural wonders. This 355-mile route along the Great Basin Highway takes in the highlights, beginning with red rock spires and sandstone canyons, and ending with mountain peaks, ancient bristlecone pine forests, and some of the nation’s darkest, star-studded skies. In five days, you’ll steer from Las Vegas to Ely to Great Basin National Park, immersing yourself in the larger-than-life landscapes of Valley of Fire State Park, Cathedral Gorge State Park, and several other distinct Nevada state parks, as well as ghost towns and sites soaked in Nevada history.

Highlights

  • Marvel at red rock formations in Valley of Fire State Park 
  • Navigate the slot canyons of Cathedral Gorge State Park 
  • Discover why “half the park is after dark” at Great Basin National Park

Cruisin’ the Great Basin Highway

A Park Parade on Nevada’s Eastern Edge

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, geology buff or simply want to see what all the hype is about, this is the park-packed road trip for you. The Great Basin Highway, which closely follows U.S. 93, will take you through several Nevada state parks, including the dazzling Valley of Fire, before ending at Great Basin National Park, home to 13,064-foot Wheeler Peak and the Lehman Caves system. On the road, you’ll pass through numerous intriguing landscapes and a few eccentric communities. Hike, bike, swim, and stroll in Nevada’s greatest outdoors and discover historic sights along the way. Adventure awaits on the Great Basin Highway!

Nevada Map

COMMUNITIES ON THIS TRIP

Alamo, Baker, Caliente, Ely, Moapa Valley, Pioche

Glovebox Essentials

Prepare for Your Adventure

Get ready to come chase some horizons with this handy dandy tool kit. Here, you’ll find all the Great Basin Highway road trip essentials, including downloadable directions, maps, and podcasts, and tunes to complement your upcoming adventure.

Great Basin Highway Playlist

Buzzfeed Bring Me! Along Nevada’s Great Basin Highway

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Get Adventurous

5 Days on the Great Basin Highway

This five-day road trip on Nevada’s Great Basin Highway is the mother of all adventures. From slot canyons and alpine lakes to Wild West saloons and ghost towns, this is the rubber-burning, asphalt-churning journey you’ll never forget. So buckle-up, enjoy the ride, and take a gander at all the incredible places you’ll experience along the way.

Leg 1

A Desert that Breathes Fire, Art, and History

Launch from Las Vegas to Valley of Fire State Park for seriously stunning red rocks and petroglyphs. The desert starlight and morning glow will set your soul (and camera lens) afire.

Leg 2

Caliente: SO hot right now…

Gear up and grab the binoculars, too. Wildlife abounds around this climbing capital and mountain biking mecca.

Leg 3

Park Hopping in Paradise

Enjoy a full day of all-to-yourself scenery and ghost town intrigue in a corner of Nevada that’s jam-packed with state parks.

Leg 4

Art, Outlaws, and Outdoor Awesomeness

Discover the funky town of Ely with a fresco-laden artwalk to historic sites and saloons. Don’t miss a swimming opportunity en route.

Leg 5

Oldest Trees Under the Darkest Skies

Cruise from Ely to Great Basin National Park for ancient pines, sculpted caverns, and starry nights.

las vegas to valley of fire

Leg 1

Las Vegas to Valley of Fire State Park

52 miles

Start your journey in Las Vegas, where you can wrap your senses around the dizzying sights and sounds of Nevada’s neon city before lighting out for the desert. Burn east on I-15 to Valley of Fire State Park, or take scenic Routes 169 and 167 for a meandering drive past Lake Mead and Gold Butte National Monument as you watch for wild horses. Spend a full day in Valley of Fire taking short hikes to Atlatl Rock, Elephant Rock, the Fire Wave and White Domes, and checking out prehistoric petroglyphs etched into sandstone.

Absorb dramatic desert scenery at a luxurious inn, travel back in time in one of 15 old west cabins, or sleep under the stars and rise early to see red rock aglow in the morning light.

Sunset View Inn

Sunset View Inn

Alamo

The North Shore Inn at Lake Mead

The North Shore Inn at Lake Mead

Overton

Take short hikes to Elephant Rock and Fire Wave and gaze at prehistoric rock carvings on Atlatl Rock in Valley of Fire State Park. Learn about the Ancestral Puebloan people at Lost City Museum. Or detour to Gold Butte.

Moapa Valley National Wildlife Refuge

Moapa Valley National Wildlife Refuge

St. Thomas Ghost Town

St. Thomas Ghost Town

Moapa Valley

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Boulder City

Valley of Fire State Park

Valley of Fire State Park

Overton

Gold Butte National Monument

Gold Butte National Monument

Gold Butte

Lost City Museum

Lost City Museum

Moapa Valley

“Double Negative” by Michael Heizer

“Double Negative” by Michael Heizer

Overton

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Savor breakfast, lunch, and pizza at Las Vegas illusionist Criss Angel’s Overton restaurant Cablp, followed by dessert at The Inside Scoop. Or fuel up your next leg with out-of-this-world snacks from E.T. Fresh Jerky.

Cablp: Criss Angel’s Breakfast, Lunch & Pizza

Cablp: Criss Angel’s Breakfast, Lunch & Pizza

Moappa Valley

E.T. Fresh Jerky

E.T. Fresh Jerky

Hiko

The Inside Scoop

The Inside Scoop

Moapa Valley

Pop in for an ode to the region’s favorite tart fruit at the Pomegranate Arts & Crafts Festival, a family-friendly, old-fashioned country fair that features more ways to consume pomegranates than you ever imagined.

Pomegranate Arts & Crafts Festival

Pomegranate Arts & Crafts Festival

basin highway state parks

Leg 2

Valley of Fire State Park to Caliente

155 miles

It’s time to hit the road on a beautiful stretch of Highway 93 to the town of Caliente, known as Nevada’s “City of Roses” for its wild rosebed-lined streets. Stop at Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge for spectacular birding in a watery, oasis-like sanctuary before rolling into Caliente, recently reborn into a mountain bike mecca, where downhill trails and a skills park thrill beginner and advanced riders alike. (For non-bike types, this is a prime time to hoof it around lush, trail-studded Kershaw-Ryan State Park, instead.) After a day of tackling trails, rest up for the next full day of adventure.

Color yourself all-the-way cozy at the Rainbow Canyon or Midway Motels. Or get a cute B&B experience at Pine Tree Inn and Bakery in Panaca.

Overland Hotel & Saloon – Pioche

Overland Hotel & Saloon – Pioche

Pioche

Shady Motel

Shady Motel

Caliente

Patty’s Motel

Patty’s Motel

Caliente

Pioche RV Park & Campground

Pioche RV Park & Campground

Pioche

Pine Tree Inn & Bakery

Pine Tree Inn & Bakery

Panaca

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Leg 2 is all about scenic drives and dirt trails. Swing by Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge to spot migratory birds, then mountain bike Barnes Canyon or hike Kershaw-Ryan. For a sweet side trip, search for half-a-billion-year-old fossils at Oak Springs Trilobite Area.

Key Pittman Wildlife Management Area

Key Pittman Wildlife Management Area

Alamo

Barnes Canyon Mountain Bike Trails

Barnes Canyon Mountain Bike Trails

Caliente

Mt. Irish Wilderness Area

Mt. Irish Wilderness Area

Alamo

Basin and Range National Monument

Basin and Range National Monument

Caliente

Oak Springs Trilobite Area

Oak Springs Trilobite Area

Caliente

Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge

Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge

Alamo

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Cool off with a cold one at the Side Track Restaurant and Side Car Speakeasy or cozy up in a booth and dig into hearty chicken-fried steaks and other classic American faves at Knotty Pine Restaurant.

Side Track Restaurant & Side Car Speakeasy

Side Track Restaurant & Side Car Speakeasy

Caliente

Knotty Pine Restaurant & Lounge

Knotty Pine Restaurant & Lounge

Caliente

Pine Lodge Dinner House

Pine Lodge Dinner House

Lamoille

Caliente = cycling. Long-haulers can grind it down to Beaver Dam S.P. or roll their roadies through multiple state parks each October. Meanwhile, MTB-ers can tackle 50 miles of singletrack and party each September.

Park to Park Pedal

Park to Park Pedal

Caliente Mountain Bike Fest

Caliente Mountain Bike Fest

Beaver Dam Gravel Grinder

Beaver Dam Gravel Grinder

cathedral gorge state park

Leg 3

6 Nevada State Parks en route to Pioche

The choice is yours!

From Caliente, take the short drive to Kershaw-Ryan State Park for “gorge-ous” short hikes and meander lush, spring-fed grounds before dipping just south to aptly-named Rainbow Canyon, or 20 miles farther for a frontier history lesson at Elgin Schoolhouse. Do not miss Cathedral Gorge State Park, where wandering the iconic slot canyons and sand castle spires are a Nevada rite of passage. For more park action, swing by Beaver Dam, Echo Canyon or Spring Valley State Parks (pack your rod for all three) on your way to Pioche, dubbed “Nevada’s liveliest ghost town” and famed for its murderous mining history.

Get into Pioche’s Wild West spirit (and possibly spirits) at the classic Overland Hotel & Saloon. Get quaint and cozy and anything but a fever at rustic Wright’s Country Cabins. Or post up between two state parks at Pat & John’s Eagle Valley Resort.

Pioche RV Park & Campground

Pioche RV Park & Campground

Pioche

Motherlode Motel

Motherlode Motel

Pioche

Overland Hotel & Saloon – Pioche

Overland Hotel & Saloon – Pioche

Pioche

Hutchings Motel

Hutchings Motel

Pioche

Wright’s Country Cabins

Wright’s Country Cabins

Pioche

Pat & John’s Eagle Valley Resort

Pat & John’s Eagle Valley Resort

Pioche

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Plunge into Nevada’s countryside with a choose-your-own combo of five Nevada state parks. Then cruise to Pioche, “Nevada’s Liveliest Ghost Town,” to check out the Million Dollar Courthouse, Boot Hill Cemetery, and the Lincoln Country Museum.

Pioche Aerial Tramway & Historic Sites

Pioche Aerial Tramway & Historic Sites

Pioche

Beaver Dam State Park

Beaver Dam State Park

Caliente

Historic Gem Theater

Historic Gem Theater

Pioche

Echo Canyon State Park

Echo Canyon State Park

Pioche

Kershaw-Ryan State Park

Kershaw-Ryan State Park

Caliente

Boot Hill Cemetery

Boot Hill Cemetery

Pioche

Cathedral Gorge State Park

Cathedral Gorge State Park

Panaca

Million Dollar Courthouse

Million Dollar Courthouse

Pioche

Thompson’s Opera House

Thompson’s Opera House

Pioche

Lincoln County Historical Museum

Lincoln County Historical Museum

Pioche

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Chow down on comfort-food classics at the Historic Silver Café, then wash it all down at an old-school sagebrush saloon, like the period-perfect Overland Hotel & Saloon or the 120-year-old Alamo Club.

Historic Silver Café

Historic Silver Café

Pioche

Overland Hotel & Saloon – Pioche

Overland Hotel & Saloon – Pioche

Pioche

Gunslingers

Gunslingers

Pioche

Alamo Club & Liquor Outlet

Alamo Club & Liquor Outlet

Pioche

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Whether it’s via cooking competitions among hoodoos and spires or multi-day townwide celebrations, Lincoln County can help you let loose your inner pioneer.

Lincoln County Photo Festival

Lincoln County Photo Festival

Pioche Labor Day Celebration

Pioche Labor Day Celebration

Fall Star Party at Cathedral Gorge State Park

Fall Star Party at Cathedral Gorge State Park

Park to Park Pedal

Park to Park Pedal

Cathedral Gorge Dutch Oven Cook-Off

Cathedral Gorge Dutch Oven Cook-Off

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las vegas to ely

Leg 4

Pioche to Ely

134 miles

Art, outlaws, and outdoor awesomeness await in the copper mining boomtown of Ely. In Ely, ogle murals on your way to walk through history at Renaissance Village and let off steam at the Nevada Northern Railway and East Ely Railroad Depot Museum. Then hike, bike, or swim at Cave Lake State Park and explore beehive-shaped kilns (and bandit hideouts) at Ward Charcoal Ovens State Park.

Bustling Ely offers up tried-and-true comfy overnighters, along with a chance to hole-up in a historic hotel where gamblers, gunslingers, and speculators once roamed the halls.

Bristlecone Motel

Bristlecone Motel

Ely

Jailhouse Motel & Casino

Jailhouse Motel & Casino

Ely

Historic Hotel Nevada & Gambling Hall

Historic Hotel Nevada & Gambling Hall

Ely

Prospector Hotel & Gambling Hall

Prospector Hotel & Gambling Hall

Ely

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En route to Ely, explore a historic site and splash in a turquoise-hued lake. Ely itself packs a ton of curiosities into city limits, including colorful murals and railroad museums. For a pretty rich side trip, try treasure hunting at Garnet Hill.

Nevada Northern Railway Museum

Nevada Northern Railway Museum

Ely

White Pine Public Museum

White Pine Public Museum

Ely

Garnet Hill

Garnet Hill

Ely

Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park

Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park

Ely

Ely Art Bank

Ely Art Bank

Ely

Garnet Mercantile

Garnet Mercantile

Ely

Renaissance Village and Ely Mural Walking Tour

Renaissance Village and Ely Mural Walking Tour

Ely

Wayne E. Kirch Wildlife Management Area

Wayne E. Kirch Wildlife Management Area

Lund

East Ely Railroad Depot Museum

East Ely Railroad Depot Museum

Ely

Cave Lake State Park

Cave Lake State Park

Ely

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There’s a lot to eat in Ely. From one of Nevada’s best Basque chorizo burgers at Racks to shakes, malts, and olden-days ambiance at Economy Drug, check out this menu of some of our favorite places to fill our bellies.

Economy Drug & Old Fashioned Soda Fountain

Economy Drug & Old Fashioned Soda Fountain

Ely

Racks Bar & Grill

Racks Bar & Grill

Ely

The Cup

The Cup

Ely

From on-the-ice sculpting, fishing, and bowling contests to cranking the pedals in bike races up mountains or against steam locomotives, Ely’s no stranger to exciting events.

Great Basin Astronomy Festival

Great Basin Astronomy Festival

Great Basin BioBlitz

Great Basin BioBlitz

Fire & Ice Winter Festival

Fire & Ice Winter Festival

Schellraiser Music Festival

Schellraiser Music Festival

Race the Rails

Race the Rails

Ely Film, Art & Music Festival

Ely Film, Art & Music Festival

Silver State Classic Challenge

Silver State Classic Challenge

Sunset, Stars & Champagne Train

Sunset, Stars & Champagne Train

Fears, Tears & Beers Mountain Bike Enduro Race

Fears, Tears & Beers Mountain Bike Enduro Race

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ely to great basin national park

Leg 5

Ely to Great Basin National Park

67 miles

Hit the road early for the final, hour-long stretch to Great Basin National Park, home to magnificent 13,064-foot Wheeler Peak, groves of 5,000-year-old Bristlecone Pine trees (the oldest living things on Earth), the darkest night skies in the Lower 48, and more outdoor action and unbeatable vistas than you can shake a selfie stick at. Take a guided tour through Lehman Caves and gaze at colorful, millennia-old formations. Then ascend 4,000 feet up 12-mile Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive to a panorama of Wheeler Peak—or on top of it, if that’s the trail you choose to tackle.

Camp under a blanket of twinkling cosmos and far-away galaxies, or enjoy the night skies through your window at a comfortable local indoor option.

Border Inn RV Park

Border Inn RV Park

Baker

Whispering Elms Campground, Motel and RV Park

Whispering Elms Campground, Motel and RV Park

Baker

Hidden Canyon Retreat

Hidden Canyon Retreat

Baker

Border Inn

Border Inn

Baker

Stargazer Inn & Bristlecone General Store

Stargazer Inn & Bristlecone General Store

Baker

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From investigating intricate, water-carved rock formations in Lehman Caves to hiking among ancient forests and towering peaks to fishing backcountry lakes, mostly crowdless Great Basin National Park offers your pick of passions to pursue.

Mt. Moriah Wilderness Area

Mt. Moriah Wilderness Area

Baker

Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive & Campground

Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive & Campground

Baker

Lehman Caves

Lehman Caves

Baker

Great Basin Hiking Trails

Great Basin Hiking Trails

Baker

Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park

Baker

Osceola Ghost Town

Osceola Ghost Town

Osceola

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Baker: small town, big flavors. Gorge on gourmet breakfast and dinner—plus mixologist-quality cocktails at Kerouac’s Restaurant & Bar—to-go burgers and burritos at 487 Grill, and heftier plates at Sugar, Salt & Malt.

Stargazer Inn & Bristlecone General Store

Stargazer Inn & Bristlecone General Store

Baker

487 Grill

487 Grill

Baker

Literally scope out galaxies with astro pros under the darkest skies in the Lower 48, get down at a baaaad-ass party with Great Basin sheepherders, or celebrate an intriguing community’s local heritage.

Great Basin Astronomy Festival

Great Basin Astronomy Festival

Great Basin BioBlitz

Great Basin BioBlitz

#GreatBasinHighway

These dazzling vistas, endless trails, and only-in-Nevada experiences deserve an audience. Don’t forget to tag #GreatBasinHighway when you share your Silver State travels with the world.

Pioche, Nevada.
Gem theater 📷 Leica r5 50 mm
Kodak Portra 400 dev et scan @studioargentique .
Pioche, la véritable ville de l’Ouest avec sa seule rue, son unique hôtel dont le lobby fait office de bar et bien sûr son Dinner. On retrouve les cowboys au grill du Silver Café avant de finir la soirée le long du saloon avec eux, une Coor’s light à la main. Quelle simplicité que Pioche nous faisait vivre en ce dimanche soir de janvier. Une petite ville bâtie autour d’un cimetière où sont enterrés les premiers habitants, tous partis d’une mort violente suite à un duel de trop.  Les coups de revolver doivent encore résonner sur le bout de bois qui a servi comme pierre tombale et que le climat sec a permis de conserver. Ce soir on entend que les boules de billards et les chahuts des habitués. Les machines à sous prennent la poussière au fond de la salle. Les cow boys savent bien que l on ne gagne jamais vraiment. Il faudra penser à les débrancher à un moment donné. Ce soir on avait pris une rousse et une IPA, pas de Coor’s light et on passait pour des gens pas vraiment du coin. Des touristes du dimanche en somme. .
#leicar #leicar5 #magazine35mm #thedaily35mm #ihsp #leicalosers #streetphotomag #streetdreamsmag #staybrokeshootfilm #thefilmcommunity #filmisnotdead #analogphotography #filmphotography #film #leica #analog #kodak #ishootfilm #streetphotography #filmcamera #photography #filmcommunity #filmisalive #nevada #leicar #kodakportra #desert #haunted #lasvegas #travel #leica #leicaphotography 
@ifyouleavestagram @francklaboue @travelnevada
Les vrais cowboys, Coors en main, passent leur soirée au saloon après une journée au ranch. Ce sont les mythes vivants de l'Amérique, beaux et intouchables. #voyage #travel #usa #unitedstates #pioche #piochenevada #nevada #travelnevada #nightphoto #overlandhotel #hotel #saloon #bar #cowboy #instagood #instatravel #igtravel #people #photography #roadtrip #picoftheday #enroute #nikond3400
The interesting landscape of Cathedral Gorge State Park is what remains of a freshwater lake from 2.5 million years ago. I'd never seen anything like it.  The spires and cliffs were muddy and very clay-like, almost sticky to touch. But I didn't mind getting a little dirty climbing back through the canyons. 😀
#KuzmaPhotography #cathedralgorge #explorenevada #stateparks #takeahike #coolshit #getoutside #explore #roadtripUSA #nevadastateparks #awesomeearth #seetheworld #travelwithme #wanderlust #neverstopexploring #instatravel #igerstravel #wonderlust #travelgirl #ourplanetdaily #igersusa #photography #travel #lovetotravel  #exploremore #lifeofadventure #hike #travelguide #nevada #thingstosee
When friends gather 🥂
...
We are open 7 days a week this season. That means more nights to enjoy time with the ones you love.
CHEERS!
...
7-10 a.m. Breakfast 
5-8:30 p.m. Dinner
Bar until 10 p.m.
...
#kerouacsnevada #bakernevada #bakernv #discovergreatbasin #greatbasin #greatbasinnationalpark #travelnevada #howtonevada #ontheroad #seasonalrestaurant #fromscratchwithlove #craftcocktails #backcountrycocktails
Wrapping up #NationalParkWeek with an incredible lesser-known park that we visited for the first time last year.

📍Great Basin National Park (Nevada)

Great Basin isn't a national park that you hear a whole lot about, but we were so impressed!

⛺We visited in August 2023 and camped in Wheeler Peak Campground within the park. The campground is at the top of Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, sitting at 9,500 feet above sea level. This has been one of our all-time favorite camping experiences. The sites were well-spaced, and the views were incredible! We also liked that we could walk from our campsite to the trailhead for several of the Wheeler Peak area trails. 

🥾During our visit, we went on two hikes in the Wheeler Peak area. We hiked the Alpine Lakes Loop trail the afternoon/evening we arrived and enjoyed some sunset views on the trail. The next morning, we hiked the Glacier Trail, which also took us past Bristlecone Grove.

🔦Great Basin NP is home to Lehman Caves. The only way to tour the caves is by purchasing a ticket for a ranger-led tour. Two tours are offered. We chose the longer one, which was 90 minutes long. While it's not the biggest or the longest cave we've been in, I felt like it had some of the most impressive cave formations!

Photos
1) Hiking the Glacier Trail
2-3) On our Lehman Caves tour
4-6) Hiking the Alpine Lakes Loop Trail
7-9) Hiking the Glacier Trail and Bristlecone Grove
10) Our campsite at Wheeler Peak Campground
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#greatbasinnationalpark #wheelerpeak #wheelerpeakcampground #themountainsarecalling #bristleconepine #nationalparkgeek #national_park_photography #travelnevada #explorenevada
Textures of the Nevada desert. Ive been away from Instagram for a little while but I’m back now so you’ll be seeing a lot from my recent adventures across the Southwest

#southwestusa #nevadadesert #roadtrippers #desertvibes #hellofrom #texturesinnature #gameoftones #desertphotography #nikonz
My little explorer was a trooper, until she wasn’t. Just one little meltdown, I cal it a successful hike! Momma only had to carry her for 1.5 miles. She did about 3 all by herself!  #naturephotography #landscapephotography #naturelovers #nature_photo #exploring #adventure #minime #littleexllorer #hiking #littlehiker #getoutside #kidsexploring #nevada #travel #adventure #travelnevada #littleadventures_bigpictures #realkidsplayoutside
Sunday wanderings around Lincoln County some mines some charcoal ovens a courthouse and an amazing veiw... a little snow, and lots of wind
#explorenevada #ghosttownsofnevada #notallwhowanderarelost #warrunner
It's summer!! The girls and I road tripped back home and stopped at the Black Dragon Canyon in Utah and the Ward Charcoal Ovens in Nevada ⛰️ #desertwanderers #wardcharcoalovens #stateparks #homemeansnevada
Cave Lake in the Schell Creek Range, above Ely NV.
#travelnevada #onlyinnevada #exploring #explorenevada #dontfencemein #dfmi #homemeansnevada #beyondvegas #igsouthwest #howtonevada #nevada #lasvegas #ely #cavelake #cavelakestatepark #southwest #wanderlust #outdoornevada #travel #traveling #history #exploring #explore #fun #adventure #nevada__explored #hiking #camping #mountains #lakes
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