For our last hike in Great Basin NP, we decided to go to see the Lexington Arch. The trail can only be reached by driving 12 miles south of Baker, then turning east for another 12 miles on a dirt road that is recommended for high clearance vehicles only.
If you look at the NPS website, you will read that the road to the trailhead and the trail itself are closed due to a fire and then flash flood last year. But when we stopped at the visitor center earlier in the week, we were told that in a Jeep we could get to within a mile and a half of the trailhead and could hike the rest of the way to the trail. Since the trail to the arch is only about a mile and a half, we decided this was very doable, so off we went.
About half way to the trailhead we came to what appeared to be the end of the road for us.
But as we looked to the left we noticed that someone had found a way around the obstacle driving through the dry stream bed. We knew the Jeep was up to the task so off we went!
Just as we were told at the visitor center, the road disappeared into the rocks left by the flash flood about a mile and a half from the trail.
So we parked the Jeep and headed out on foot.
For the most part the road had been devoured by the flooded stream, so we hiked in the stream bed.
In a couple of sections the road was still there and someone had outlined the trail with rocks.
Finally we stumbled on a trail that headed up the hillside. It was going in the right direction so we knew it had to be the trail to the arch.
After about a mile and a half through burned trees we rounded a corner and the arch came into view in the distance.
We continued to what we thought was the end of the trail where there was a nice bench with a great view of Lexington Arch.
The Lexington Arch is a six-story tall limestone formation. Although natural arches and bridges are not uncommon, most of them are formed from sandstone. The fact that Lexington Arch is made of limestone leads to speculation that it was once a passage in a cave system. But scientists are still unsure exactly how it was formed.
After lunch on the bench we noticed that the trail continued down into a gulch around the arch. So off we went to check out the other side of this beautiful piece of stone.
Remember that bench? Do you see it in the photo below?
OK, let’s zoom in a bit for the visually challenged.
The photographer headed back around the arch to the bench for another picture. When she looked at the shot below she thought she detected someone standing under the arch.
A closer look confirmed her suspicions. Someone was waving at her!
An even closer look revealed the guy photobombing her shots!
At the bottom of the hill we crossed the point where we found the trail on the way up. In a few hundred yards we came across a sign that would have marked the beginning of the trail before mother nature re-arranged the area.
We hustled a bit on the return hike as dark clouds were evident over the mountains. The sky was a bit dark but it never rained.
We had a great time on this adventure, combining some great 4-wheeling, a nice hike, and great views of the Lexington Arch. Another plus was the solitude, as we didn’t see another human the entire day.
And that concludes our visit to Great Basin. Although a bit isolated, this park has some great hiking and a beautiful scenic drive that takes you over 10,000 feet. If you plan to visit take note that the Wheeler campground, which is at 10,000 ft, is limited to RVs of 24 feet or less. The Lower and Upper Lehman Campgrounds do have a few spaces that might fit a larger rig. Sites were small and most not very level. Also, most of the hikes are in high altitudes, 7,500 ft and higher with some starting at 10,000 feet, so be prepared.
Next up is a visit to the St. George, UT area. More on that later . . .