The Big Basin

A typical Nevada basin and another endless road

Despite the cliche, travel is a learning experience and this trip was no exception. We learned a lot about operating and living in a small trailer: how to safely hitch one to a car, for instance; how to operate the frig and the hot water heater; how to remove an airlock from the water system (twice) and how to juggle limited space. We were already pretty good at the latter, but this is a different space and requires different juggling.

We also learned something new about the land we travel and live in. Growing up in the West I thought I had a pretty good grasp of this part of the world, and of course I knew that all the water that falls on this side of the Continental Divide flows into the Pacific. Ooops! Not so. In a big part of the west—most of Nevada, half of Utah, and parts of Oregon, California, Idaho and Wyoming the water goes. . . nowhere. This area is known as the Big Basin, and the water that falls here remains here.

To quote from The Bristlecone, a publication of Big Basin National Park in Nevada, “the Hydrographic Great Basin is a 200,000 square mile area that drains internally. All precipitation in the region evaporates, sinks underground or flows into lakes (mostly saline). . . . The term ‘Great Basin’ is slightly misleading; the region is actually made up of many small basins. The Great Salt Lake, Pyramid Lake, and the Humboldt Sink are a few of the ‘drains’ in the Great Basin.”

So now you know too. There’s more of course, but to find out you’ll have to go there, or visit the website. We’ve always believed the National Park system is one of the best things about America. This relatively new park (founded in 1984) is one more reason to think so.