The biggest special event for the month in Baker is the Great Basin National Park Centennial Bird BioBlitz. Held May 20-22, this three-day event encourages citizen scientists to come connect with their national park in a new way. Workshops, activities and talks begin Friday, May 20 at noon. Two past park artists-in-residence will be conducting two workshops about drawing birds — this is a great opportunity to get some tips on how to make your illustrations shine. Live birds will be present on Friday afternoon (NDOW’s Hedwig, Jr., a Great Horned Owl) and on Saturday afternoon (various raptors from Southwest Wildlife Foundation). Saturday and Sunday mornings, expert birders will lead walks in various parts of the park to help document which bird species live where. Photographers are encouraged to “capture” birds by photo; these photos will provide a voucher, or verified, specimen that will be recorded in a national database. Great Basin Bird Observatory will summarize the data so that the park can update its bird list and have a great snapshot view of bird species in the park. Free camping is provided to all participants, along with an unforgettable experience! To learn more and sign up, visit the park’s BioBlitz webpage.
May is Nevada’s State Historic Preservation and Archeology Month. Local things you can check out include the pictographs outside Upper and Lower Pictograph Caves in Great Basin National Park, made by Fremont Indians about a thousand years ago; Baker Archeological Site, where the Fremont lived (mentioned in February’s dispatch); and the The Forgotten Winchester rifle exhibit, now occupying one whole wall of the Lehman Caves Visitor Center.
The Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive within Great Basin National Park is likely to open all the way to the bristlecone trailhead in May, but the Wheeler Peak Campground probably won’t open until June due to snow. This summer the Upper Lehman Creek Campground will be closed for renovations, so that might make finding a camping spot a little more difficult. Snake and Strawberry Creeks both have campsites that are often unoccupied and also free, so they are worth checking out. Sacramento Pass Recreation Area has some newly renovated campsites that are also a great place to stay.
If you don’t want to camp, all the businesses in Baker are open in May, so you have several options for eating, sleeping, and other amenities. You can learn about these at the Great Basin Business and Tourism Council website. The Border Inn holds a Cinco de Mayo party. Pizza night (Friday nights) is back by popular demand at the Lectrolux Café, with great prices on pizza and microbrews.
— Gretchen Baker
(Visit Gretchen’s fascinating and educational outdoor adventure blog, Desert Survivor, too!)