Through Riverless Terrain

Leaving Ely, Nevada, this morning, we headed east on US 50; our first stop was Great Basin National Park, in the Snake Range, just west of the Utah Border; details regarding the Park are provided in the linked post.  Today, a deep snow pack closed the Wheeler Peak road at Mather Overlook (just above 9000 feet) but we enjoyed broad views of the Park and adjacent landscape.  We then took a hike along South Baker Creek before setting out across the beautiful but arid lands of the Great Basin.

One of the highlights of that journey was the vast but dry bed of Sevier Lake; filled to the brim during the cool, wet climate of the Pleistocene, the lake is now a sink, fed by the fickle flow of several basin rivers that have been mostly dammed or diverted.  After crossing Interstate 15, we climbed along US 50 to merge with Interstate 70 and then crossed the massive hump of the Wasatch Plateau; beyond this high ridge the highway winds through some of the most scenic topography in North America (if not on the planet) where eroded beds of late Paleozoic and Mesozoic sedimentary rocks line the road.  After dropping through the Waterpocket Fold, we crossed the Green River, completing our loop through Utah, Nevada and California.

Looking down at that River, it occurred to me that this tributary of the Colorado was the first stream of any size that we had crossed since leaving Mono Lake; indeed, the West Fork of the Walker River, north of that lake was the last river that I had encountered.  Such is the nature of the Great Basin: two days of driving through magnificent but riverless terrain.