Wheeler Peak is located in Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada. Part of the South Snake Range, it is the second highest mountain in the state, less than 100 feet lower than Boundary Peak. The highest peak in New Mexico goes by the same name. The easiest and most popular route is just a walk-up on a well-marked trail. Even though the ascent is not very challenging, the beauty and natural history of this mountain make it worthwhile.
Wheeler Peak's steep north-facing headwall was steepened by recent glacial episodes. While such features are commonplace in other regions of the country, Wheeler Peak's glacial remnants are the most conspicuous example in the state of Nevada. A well-known grove of ancient Bristlecone Pine trees lies near the summer parking access area at 10000 feet elevation.
Really the only well-documented route up Wheeler is the standard route. There is likely some decent rock climbing on the quartzite of Wheeler's steep northeast face, though information on the internet is nonexistent.
|Driving information from Major Airports|
|City||Distance||Yahoo Driving Directions|
|Las Vegas, Nevada||317 miles||LAS to GBNP|
|Salt Lake City, Utah||264 miles||SLC to GBNP|
|Reno, Nevada||385 miles||RNO to GBNP|
One appeal of this mountain is its true remoteness. The closest "real" towns along Highway 6 are Delta, Utah, 100+ miles to the east, and Ely, Nevada, about 65 miles to the west, and even then, neither have reliable commercial air service.
From the visitors center, follow signs up the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive for 12 miles (8% grade) until you get to the (well marked) trailhead parking lot at about 10,000 ft. This parking lot is about 0.5 miles above Wheeler Peak Campground and is near a horse loading ramp. A good NPS map of the park and nearby surroundings can be found here.
In the winter, the Wheeler Peak Scenic Highway is not plowed above 7800 feet elevation. Access to the peak is more difficult, though not impossible, as described in the "When to Climb" section.
No permits are required for day climbs. Wilderness permits (free) are required for overnight backcountry trips, although there is certainly far less competition for these permits than at the more popular national parks. Great Basin National Park is one of the few "no-fee" parks left in the US.
When to Climb
Most climbs are done in the summer, starting from the trailhead near the Wheeler Peak campground at 10000 feet elevation. In the winter, the road is not plowed above the Upper Lehman Creek campground located at 7800 feet elevation. Winter ascent information can be found here
There are four campgrounds in Great Basin National Park: Baker Creek, Lower Lehman Creek, Upper Lehman Creek, and Wheeler Peak. Only Baker Creek is open during the winter, although it lacks running water. In the summer, amenities include water, restrooms, fire rings, and picnic tables. There is a $5 use fee.
Non-campers should note that Baker, NV, although conveniently located, has scant opportunities for lodging. If you are not averse to driving 65 miles (no traffic, high speeds) one-way, Ely, Nevada contains many reasonably-priced motels. Click here for Ely lodging information.
This page has historical weather data on Great Basin National Park and some links to current conditions.
- C.E. Brennen's Wheeler Peak trip report
Nice prose, a couple photos, and an annotated map.
- FalconOutdoors.com page
- Excellent information page
Better than the National Park Service's page.
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