Many people dread the thought of touring the Great Basin Desert simply because very few bright and shiny points of interest appear when glancing at this region on a map. Traveling endless miles through sagebrush country certainly can be a boring proposition, especially for those who seek jam packed action during every minute of a planned vacation. Those who wish to get more bang for the buck will be disappointed too, because there are very few places to spend money in sagebrush country and modern amenities are practically unheard of. In fact, the gas stations can be well over 100 miles apart on some travel routes in these parts and those who own cars that require high octane fuel may be completely out of luck. Even the travel routes have a way of waning interest too, since many of the highways in this region are very lengthy bumpy dirt roads. All this adds up to a desolate expanse that is very easy to dread touring, yet all it takes is encountering one of the many intangible surprises hidden in this desert landscape to change the mood.
The most surprising intangibles in the case of the Great Basin Desert definitely are the wild horses and wild burros. One never knows when or where they will be encountered way out in sagebrush country, but the more time that is spent in this place, the better the chances will be. For example, I spent more than two week traveling just about everywhere in northern Nevada, including destinations that require more than a half day of bumpy dirt trail riding. Nearly every day I encountered small herds of wild horses and wild burros way out in the middle of nowhere, which is where they tend to roam free.
These non-native animals graze in the same kinds of terrain, but they tend to travel in separate groups. Unlike horses, the small wild burro herds are not usually led by an alpha male. The wild burros behave more like roving bandito gangs that are either mutually looking for a chance to escape detection or they are seeking an opportunity to mooch some free food. Wild burros can also go much longer without water than horses, so they can be found much further away from the few available water resources in this arid environment. The extent of how much the wild burros tolerate human contact also varies. Some burro herds will not allow a human to get closer than 500 yards, while others let their curiosity get the best of them. The curious burros definitely make the best photo subjects, so be sure to pack a powerful telephoto lens when touring the wide open spaces of the Great Basin Desert!
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