“A superb route passing through a Bristlecone Pine grove on the way to a rock glacier.
— Jason Ethridge
Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive is closed during the winter; usually November through May.
This moderate route will lead visitors past two of the most scenic spots in Great Basin National Park, the Bristlecone Pine Grove
, and the Wheeler Peak Glacier. Both of these spots are well worth the visit, and many will enjoy the route that leads to them.
Need to Know
There is very little shade after the first 1.5 miles, and the summer sun can be brutal. There are some rocky sections towards the end - careful of your ankles!
Follow the well signed Alpine Lakes Loop Trail
south, crossing Lehman Creek. Instead of turning to finish the loop, turn onto the Bristlecone Grove Trail
. The intersection is located about 1/2 mile into the loop, and the trail will be on your left. Follow that trail to the Bristlecone Pine Grove
. There is a small interpretive loop trail through the grove that has great information plaques. After the grove, continue along the Glacier Trail
until it comes to the foot of the rock glacier.
This trail will take you to the foot of the glacier. The trailhead for this route is located at the end of the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive. The trail begins at an elevation of 9,800 feet and climbs another 1,100 feet. Use caution around the toe of the glacier, as the boulders may not be stable, and small rockslides are common from the cliffs above.
Great Basin National Park is home to the only glacier in Nevada, and one of the southernmost glaciers in the United States. The Wheeler Peak Glacier sits at the base of Wheeler Peak, in a protected cirque around 11,500 feet in elevation. The glacier measures 300 feet long and 400 feet wide. Exact depth is unknown.
Flora & Fauna
History & Background
The Bristlecone Pine forest here used to hold "Prometheus", the oldest living tree on earth, but an unsuspecting scientist cut it down in 1964.