Torrey, UT to Baker, NV
Day 23: Tuesday June 27, 2017
We moved from Torrey Utah to Baker Nevada on Tuesday. We had the choice of two routes after reaching I-70: turn south on I-70 at Richfield, continue on I-70 to I-15, then northwest on the Ely highway at Beaver; or, continue on to US 50 at Salina, then north to Scipio at I-15, the south on I-15/US 50 to the Delta turnoff and continue on US 50.
Although it was 23 miles longer, we chose the US 50 route with a fuel stop at the Flying J in Scipio.
We entered the Great Basin at Scipio. The Great Basin is the largest contiguous watershed in the United States without a natural outlet to the ocean. It is bounded on the east by the Rocky Mountains and on the west by the Sierra Nevada and the Cascade Mountains. It is also the largest desert in the United States. If there was sufficient rain and snow in the Basin it would eventually create passages to the south into the Gulf of California
The Great Basin consists of a series of isolated mountain ranges that are separated by 7 wide valleys; a pattern called “Basin and Range”. Salt flats are frequently seen in the valleys; they result from water deposited in lakes with an exit, e.g. the Great Salt Lake, which then dry up depositing the mineral content of the water.
Some of the mountain ranges are high enough to receive enough snow and rain to sustain forests and large animals (deer, elk, bear, etc.). Ranchers also capture the runoff to irrigate alfalfa, grain, and pasture in small oasis like areas.
The Snake Range is one of the dominant ranges in the basin. Great Basin National Park includes the Wheeler Mountain section of the Snake Range and portions of the high desert on both side of the range; it is based in Baker, NV close to the border with Utah.
We arrived in Baker about 12:20 (PDT—we gained an hour) and set up at the Whispering Elms RV Park—we’d stayed here in 2009.
One of our objectives here was the night sky watch program at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center in Great Basin NP. Three sessions are offered this week: Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; all start at 8:30 pm and last until 11:30 pm—Brian was too tired from driving the attend Tuesday night so we plan to attend Thursday.
Baker is a small town with many old buildings. The town of Baker is based on The Baker Ranch. The Ranch was founded in 1876 by George Baker (no relation to the present owners). In 1914 Baker sold it to Aztec Land and Cattle Company and it was operated by Guy Saval, a Basque sheep man. Saval hired Basque ranch hands and the town of Baker became known as “Basqueville”.
In the 1920s Fred Baker from Delta, Utah, no relation to the present owners, worked on the ranch and purchased it with his son Dean as ranch operator. The Bakers expanded the ranch and used advance agricultural practices to improve production. The ranch is being operated today by third a generation of Bakers.