Road Trip up Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive: Enjoy Breathtaking Views at Great Basin National Park

Waterfall at Fall Creek Falls


Surrounding views from the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive

Once you turn onto Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, an 8% grade will take you through the park’s diverse ecological zones. Because of the drive’s grade and altitude change, you will notice flora and fauna shifts as you ascend. Keep an eye out for some unique plant life as you pass through the various zones of lowland sagebrush, aspen groves, and pine stands.

Near the beginning of the drive, the thriving lowland sagebrush provides a flat landscape with sprawling views of the Snake Range and neighboring basins. Look for wildlife like mule deer and the occasional coyote that thrive in the area. As the drive continues up to 8,500 and 9,000 feet, you’ll pass through a more wooded scene filled with Curleaf Mountain Mahogany, conifers, Douglas fir, and other high-elevation plant life.

As you reach higher elevations, you’ll see Wheeler Peak, Nevada’s second-highest peak (just 84 feet short of being the tallest), and Doso Doyabi (formerly Jeff Davis Peak), the state’s third-highest peak. Both mountains stand proudly in the Great Basin National Park skyline, offering hikers and climbers stunning views and challenging terrain to conquer. At this elevation, keep your eyes peeled for bighorn sheep, one of the many unique animals that call Great Basin National Park home.

Adventure along the scenic drive

Young couple hiking on trail

The Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive isn’t just the best way to see all that Great Basin National Park offers. There’s also plenty of adventure along the drive, with multiple pullouts and overlooks for endless photo opportunities. One iconic viewpoint is Mather Overlook, which offers views of Wheeler Peak and the surrounding mountain range at a 9,000-foot elevation.

Driving along the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive doesn’t have to be just a leisurely activity, either. The drive offers countless opportunities to get out and explore hiking trails, campgrounds, and overlooks along the way. The Upper Lehman Creek Campground and Wheeler Peak Campground are conveniently located at mile three and the end of the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, making it easy to set up a base camp to explore the area.

Embark on a short hike along the Mountain View Nature Trail, just off the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive near the visitor center. It is an easy 0.3-mile loop trail, ideal for families hiking with kids, providing a closer look at the juniper and pinyon trees in this section of the drive. For the more adventurous traveler, the Bristlecone Grove Trail is a moderately difficult hike covering approximately 2.8 miles round trip, with a 500-foot elevation change. For expert hikers, the Wheeler Peak Trail is near the drive’s end. The 8.6-mile trail, with over 3,100-foot elevation change, might be just the challenge you need to cap off this scenic drive.

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Dave Pennells

By Dave Pennells

Dave Pennells, MS, has contributed his expertise as a career consultant and training specialist across various fields for over 15 years. At City University of Seattle, he offers personal career counseling and conducts workshops focused on practical job search techniques, resume creation, and interview skills. With a Master of Science in Counseling, Pennells specializes in career consulting, conducting career assessments, guiding career transitions, and providing outplacement services. Her professional experience spans multiple sectors, including banking, retail, airlines, non-profit organizations, and the aerospace industry. Additionally, since 2001, he has been actively involved with the Career Development Association of Australia.