Rising 13,063 feet out of a massive 200,000-square-mile basin, Wheeler Peak beckons visitors with an entirely unique ecosystem. High desert meets alpine forest here, with a limestone cave to boot. Fewer than 100,000 visitors (compared to 3 million at Utah’s Zion National Park) will find their way to this off-the-beaten-path park annually, but for them, the rewards will be ample. Surface water
in the Great Basin has no outlet to the sea, so it pools in more than 200 small basins throughout the steep mountain ranges. Along with these alpine lakes, the dramatic mountains shelter lush meadows, limestone formations, and ancient bristlecone pines. Within the park is the southernmost permanent glacier on the continent.