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Top 10 Things To Do Around Baker, NV

 By Gretchen Baker

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1. Visit The Bristlecone Pines

Bristlecone Pines (Pinus longaeva) can grow more than 4,000 years, and they survive best when only part of the tree is alive to conserve resources. The easiest accessible bristlecone pine grove in the area if found on the bristlecone trail (2.6 miles round trip) in Great Basin National Park (  The oldest bristlecone in the world, Prometheus, was once found here, but was cut down by a researcher in the 1960s. Most bristlecone groves are found on limestone rock, but this one is on quartzite, which is falling from the surrounding high mountains. The cold winds that blow off the remnant glacier (located at the end of the same trail), help provide the intense environmental conditions in which the bristlecones excel.

Alternatives: The bristlecone on Mt. Moriah's Table (Humbolt-Toivabe National Forest) (, are also spectacular, stretching out across the high elevation plateau.  Accessible via 4WD from the west side and a short hike, or a longer hike from the east side.  Another notable bristlecone grove is the one found near Mt. Washington, also in Great Basin National Park. Accessed via the west side of the Snake Range in a 4WD vehicle or on foot, some of these bristlecones were burned in a 1999 fire, lending an even eerier cast to the scene. When the snow hits the ground and the higher elevations are not easily reached, a young bristlecone pine is growing in the parking lot at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center.

2. Venture Underground

The Great Basin is not widely known for its caves, but this area has an interesting array: horizontal and vertical, wet and dry, plain and well-decorated. In this last category falls Lehman Caves (, through which you can take a National Park Service guided tour for 30, 60, or 90 minutes. Open year-round and a pleasant 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the cave is famous for its numerous cave shields, bulbous stalactites, and
other speleothems.

Alternatives: Crystal Ball Cave (,  located 30 miles to the north, also is open for tours (by reservation only; contact Jerald and Marlene Bates at   435- 693-3145). More primitive than Lehman Caves, bring a flashlight and good walking shoes to traverse the natural cave floor. When you are in Crystal Ball Cave, you feel like you are in the middle of a geode, with sparkling nailhead and dogtooth spar coating nearly every surface. These crystals formed when supersaturated calcite water sat in the cave for a long period. Paleontological excavations (,  have revealed a vast number of animals in the cave that no longer occur in the area such as camels, short-faced skunks, sabre-toothed cats, large-headed llamas, and more. They frequented the area during wetter periods, when Lake Bonneville filled the adjacent valley. A great side-trip after your cave tour is a soak in nearby Gandy Warm Springs. Coming out of the same mountain that Crystal Ball Cave is located in, the 82-degree water is just the right temperature for cooling off on a hot summer day.

3. Visit The Baker Archeological Site

The Fremont Indians created a village, sometimes referred to as the Baker Village
(, about 700 years ago. Located about two miles from the present-day town of Baker, they farmed what used to be a wetter area. Over 15 buildings were constructed in an unexplained complex design, and were uncovered during 1991-1994 archeological excavations. An interpretive sign and self-guided trail are available, along with periodic guided tours offered by Bureau of Land Management volunteers.

Alternative: The Fremonts (and other Native Americans like the Shoshones) went up to higher elevations to hunt and collect pine nuts. One record of their presence is at Upper Pictograph Cave near Baker Creek. Most of the pictographs are on the outside of the cave; to enter the cave you need to get a permit. During the fall you can collect the tasty pine nuts ( 

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