Desert scenic drives certainly are mesmerizing because the barren landscape is so intriguing to see. A trip through a desert expanse is usually guaranteed to be a lengthy journey, so there will be plenty of time for the thoughts to wander. Passengers staring through the windows will inherently share common thoughts, which often include wondering about what it would take to survive in such a harsh environment. A long drive through a desert expanse can be a bit hypnotic, but if time is taken to stop and smell the roses along the way, the experience will be greatly enhanced.
The Great Basin Desert covers almost the entire State Of Nevada, part of western Utah and it extends north well into central Oregon. Because this desert covers so much ground, the temperatures vary greatly and many micro environments can be found. There are lush mountain forests in the Great Basin Desert, but as the name suggests, most of the lower elevations are flat as a pancake and this is where the harshest environmental conditions exist.
The north end of the Great Basin Desert in Oregon is as picturesque as can be, because this is where the flat barren desert meets the rolling mountains of the Pacific Northwest. The rolling hills and buttes in this region are barren, but enough vegetation grows to give them a golden color toward the end of summer, which is magnificent to see. The flat dry lakes that extend for miles into the distance are what daydreams are made of and the gray color sand dunes almost look like they belong on another planet.
The Oregon end of the Great Basin Desert certainly is worth experiencing, but just because this section is so far north, the conditions should not be taken lightly even when just doing a scenic drive. There are only a few highways through this desolate region, while the small towns are few and far between. Fuel Management is a concern in these parts, because the gas stations can be more than 75 miles apart and some are actually closed on Sundays. Very few people tour this end of the Great Basin Desert and telecommunications are nearly nonexistent, so if the unexpected occurs, it will likely be a long wait for help to arrive. For this reason, it is best to pack some extra food and water, even when just doing a scenic drive.
U.S. Highway 395 is one of the best touring routes through the north end of the Great Basin Desert. This pathway is a nice choice for people heading south from central Oregon to Goose Lake on the border of California. In my case, I started my day in the Malheur National Forest near the town of Burns, Oregon and headed south on Highway 395 through the Upper Great Basin Desert on the way to Crater Lake National Park, where I camped that night. Time was also spent at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and the Lake Abert Wildlife Study Area, which are both located along this travel route. Lake Abert definitely is an interesting study of a rapidly evaporating desert lake and it is a great bird watching area, so it is well worth spending some extra time in this place.
As far as it goes, the North Great Basin Desert does take some determination to get to because this is such a remote area, but the venture will certainly be rewarding. This end of the Great Basin desert sees very little tourism, so there is nothing but wide open spaces and majestic views to take in. If plenty elbow room is what you seek, then Highway 395 through the Upper Great Basin Desert most definitely is the road to follow!
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