Great Basin National Park Scenic Drive Hits Fall Color Peak

Great Basin National Park is known for a road that wiggles its way up the mountainside from 5,300 feet above sea level in the town of Baker to 10,000 feet at its highest point, all in a little more than 12 miles. That road, Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, puts on a show stopping display of fall color. And on October 3, 2023, Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive is at peak.

Great Basin National Park Fall Color 10-3-23
Great Basin National Park Scenic Drive Fall Color at About 9,000 Feet, 10-3-23, Kim Wilkes

If you’re an avid fall foliator, you’re going to want someone to drive you up the road so you can keep your eyes on the foliage without worrying about getting into an accident.

We were here back in late August, when the first signs of fall color were appearing, so it’s nice to see the autumn foliage now in all its fall splendor.

One of the Best Fall Color Drives in Nevada

Right now, the 9,000 to 9,500 foot level is looking really spectacular and is at peak. Some of the trees there are an intense orange-red.

Great Basin National Park Fall Color
Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive Fall Color, Near 9,000 Feet, 10-3-23, Kim Wilkes

Unfortunately, the last two storms were not kind to many of the trees at 10,000 feet and above, where about half of the aspens have lost their leaves or the foliage has turned brown. Some of the leaves look like they froze, which isn’t surprising due to the light coating of snow that fell at that elevation.

Wheeler Peak and Fall Color
Wheeler Peak and Fall Color from near 10,000 Feet, 10-3-23, Kim Wilkes
Past Peak fall color at Summit Trailhead
Fall Color at Summit Trailhead, Near 10,000 Feet, Great Basin National Park, 10-3-23, Kim Wilkes

Even so, about 40% of the trees are still yellow and another 10% are still green. That remaining color and the fact that Wheeler Peak is quite a beautiful sight frosted in snow makes the drive to the top of the road worthwhile.

Still Green Trees around 10,000 feet, Great Basin National Park
Some Trees Are Still Green at the Top of the Scenic Drive, Great Basin National Park, 10-3-23, Kim Wilkes

I estimate there’s another five to seven days left of color at 9,000 feet and above before we have to say goodbye to it for another year. And even when that higher altitude color goes away, elevations from 6,000 to 8,500 feet should start popping.

If You’re Going

Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive is located in Great Basin National Park, which is located in northeastern Nevada, on the border with Utah. During snow storms, it temporarily closes in the fall and then reopens when conditions warrant. It closes for the winter after the first heavy snowfall.

This drive is at a high elevation, so before hiking at the top, consider acclimating first either by sleeping at 6,000 or 8,000 feet the night before or taking some hikes at those elevations before progressing up to 10,000 feet.

Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive Fall Color Update

9,000 to 9,500 Foot Level – At Peak (75%)

10,000 Foot Level and Above – A Mixture of Past Peak (50%), Peak (40%), and Still Green (10%)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

For security, use of CloudFlare's Turnstile service is required which is subject to the CloudFlare Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

I agree to these terms.

Pin It on Pinterest

Scroll to Top