Nevada Road Trip: Crafting the Perfect Itinerary from Las Vegas to Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park Driving Directions | Itinerary & Attractions

We started our journey from Las Vegas by renting a car, heading north from the west through Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge, Cathedral Gorge State Park, and Ward Charcoal Ovens to Great Basin National Park. Afterwards, we returned to Las Vegas via the east side, passing through Parowan Gap, Cedar Breaks National Monument, and Valley of Fire State Park.

We're all the way fromLas VegasRent a car and set off from the west to the north, passing Pahranagat national wildlife refuge, Cathedral Gorge State Park, Ward Charcoal ovens toGreat Basin National ParkAfter that, you can go east via Parowan gap and Cedar Breaks National Monument,Valley of Fire State ParkBack to Las Vegas.

Stop 1 | Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge

  • Recommended Time: 30 minutes

The Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge is about 90 miles north of Las Vegas, covering an area of 5,380 acres of national protected land. The name "Pahranagat" comes from the Paiute Indian language, meaning "valley of shining water." This region features rare water sources in the desert of Southern Nevada. Driving up from Las Vegas, the landscape transitions from desert to an area with lakes, marshes, and greenery within the desert. The establishment of this refuge aims to protect the habitat of birds. During the migration periods in spring and fall, one can see a large number of migratory birds.

We can stop and rest at the visitor center at the headquarters, and right behind the visitor center, there is a trail called the Pahranagat Loop.

Stop 2 | Cathedral Gorge State Park

  • Recommended Time: 1-2 hours

Cathedral Gorge State Park has a unique geological landscape. Nature has sculpted dramatic patterns in this long and narrow valley, resembling the spires of a cathedral from a distance. As a stopover, you can rest for a while in the picnic area and explore the surroundings of Cathedral. If time allows, there are several trails within the park worth exploring, with the trail to Miller Point being especially noteworthy. After this stop, you can head to the town of Pioche for dining or accommodation.

A more detailed itinerary is recorded in the following article.

Stop 3 | Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park

  • Recommended Time: 30 minutes

The Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park is located in the Egan Range in eastern Nevada. The main attraction is six beehive-shaped charcoal ovens, known as Ward Charcoal Ovens, standing up to 30 meters tall. They were used from 1876 to 1879 to produce charcoal for the ore smelting furnaces. Inside, you can still see some of the blackened marks from burning. After the mining era, these ovens were used for habitation and even served as hideouts for stagecoach bandits. Besides its historical significance, the area also offers opportunities for camping and picnicking.

Stop 4 | Great Basin National Park

  • Recommended time: 1-2 days

Great Basin National Park is the main destination of this trip. More detailed information about the attractions can be found in the following article.

Stop 5 | Parowan Gap

  • Recommended Duration: 30 minutes - 1 hour

Next, we can visit Parowan Gap to see petroglyphs. Parowan Gap is located near Interstate 15 and is rich in indigenous rock art and dinosaur fossils. The National Park Service has developed an easy-to-walk short trail here, where we can see ancient petroglyphs clearly visible on large rocks on both sides of the Gap's east side, and refer to the signs to identify these interesting symbols. The meaning of these petroglyphs is not entirely clear, but we know that several different tribes once lived here and left these marks.

Stop 6 | Cedar Breaks National Monument

  • Recommended Time: 1-2 hours

Cedar Breaks National Monument, located in Utah, features a colossal amphitheater that is half a mile deep, formed by the erosion of limestone, shale, and sandstone, creating a colorful and vast canyon. Driving through Cedar Breaks Scenic Drive, the landscape reminds one of Bryce Canyon National Park and is considered a mini version of Bryce Canyon. Some even believe that the vibrant colors here surpass those of Bryce Canyon.

Stop 7 | Valley Of Fire State Park

  • Recommended length of stay: Half a day - 1 day

Valley of Fire State Park is Nevada's oldest and most famous state park, featuring a diverse and fantastical natural landscape with richly colored and uniquely shaped rock formations. It's worth spending a whole day exploring. When sunlight hits these rocks, they shimmer like flames, hence the name "Valley of Fire." For a more detailed itinerary and introduction to the attractions, refer to the following article.

Gourmet | Centro Woodfired Pizzeria

  • Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Price: $$

On the self-driving route to Great Basin National Park, there are no large cities, and even restaurants are scarce. So, it's definitely worth mentioning when you come across a good place to eat. Centro Woodfired Pizzeria, located in Cedar City, serves delicious pizza and comes highly recommended.

Further reading

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