Baker Correspondence – December 2016

Holiday Festivities help make the long nights sparkle in and near Baker

An Oregon junco (a subspecies of the Dark-eyed junco). Juncos are also called snowbirds, because they usually appear only shortly before the first snows of winter and depart before spring comes.

An Oregon junco (a subspecies of the Dark-eyed junco). Juncos are also called snowbirds because they usually appear only shortly before the first snows of winter and depart before spring comes.

The annual EskDale Banquet, with food, singing, orchestra, and a holiday play are held December 8 and 9. For more info, call 435-209-0065. The school play, possibly the biggest event of the school year, is December 15 at 6:30 p.m. at Baker Hall. Listen to music and watch two holiday plays. Santa will find his way to the hall before the evening is over.

A Mallard drake in flight

                                                                                             A Mallard drake in flight

The Snake Valley Christmas Bird Count will be held Wednesday, December 14. Generally 45-50 species of birds are seen. Some routes involve mostly driving, while others are mostly hiking/snow shoeing/skiing, and some are a combination. Routes cover an elevational gradient. People of all experience levels are welcome. Because of the remote location, extra counters are always welcome. Contact Gretchen_Baker@nps.gov for more info.

kids sledding

With the snow level creeping down the mountain, all the kids — and some of the adults — are hoping that there’s enough snow to go sledding! There aren’t any designated sledding hills around, but over the years we’ve been creative and found some. Up in the park, some small hills can be found where the Scenic Drive is closed, at Upper Lehman Creek Campground, and on the hill going down into Grey Cliffs on Baker Creek road. There’s also a side cut along the Baker Creek road that is terrific sledding if there’s enough snow. On the few occasions we get a good snow down in the valley, locals head to the gravel pits both north and south of town.

great basin park sign

Great Basin National Park is open every day of December except Christmas. The Lower Lehman Campground is open year round. Lehman Caves tours are held at 1 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on weekends. The Lehman Caves Visitor Center is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

One other place that’s fun to visit in December is the Baker Archeological Site, especially if you go on winter solstice. The self-guiding booklet shows how the village was designed with astronomical features in mind, including the solstice. It’s always a good reminder that the Fremont culture survived 800 years ago in this valley without the modern conveniences we take for granted, and we should be grateful for all the amenities and easy traveling we have today.

— Gretchen Baker

Give Gretrchen’s Desert Survivor blog a look-see! Outdoor adventures for kids and adults all around Baker and Great Basin National Park.

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