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GREAT BASIN NATIONAL PARK

Natalia Goncharova

     From the amazing night sky to the jaw-dropping views, Great Basin National Park in Nevada is a place that you have to visit. This place is very unique. It has the darkest and clearest night skies and the oldest trees in the world, the bristlecone pines. The Lehman Cave has organisms that are only found in it, like the Great Basin Cave Pseudoscorpion and millipede.
     We started our vacation here by touring the Lehman cave. We saw straws, popcorn, stalactites, stalagmites, shields, and, my favorite, cave bacon. Caves rarely have shield formations, but the Lehman cave has more than three hundred! There were plenty of places to take pictures of the beautiful things that grew there. The ranger showed us a cut apart stalagmite and I noticed that it has rings like a tree. You can also see results of light pollution under the cave lights, a red carpet of bacteria. We noticed that in the 1930's people broke many straws, stalactites, and stalagmites.
     The next day we went on a three mile hiking trip to a bristlecone pine grove. Some of the trees were almost five thousand years old! They only live in Nevada and California. The bristlecone pines only add an inch in diameter every 100 years of growth. Their wood is very densely packed so they can stand another 2000 years after death without decaying. The trail was very rocky, but had a pleasant view of the majestic mountains. You can continue on the trail and see a glacier, which is unusual for Nevada.
     At night the rangers held an astronomy program for visitors. The park is proud of their beautiful night sky full of bright stars. We got to look through telescopes and see Saturn's beautiful rings, the twin stars, and the star nursery. They also explained how light pollution affects our ability to see stars.
     Great Basin National Park is a fantastic place and has something to offer for everyone.
 

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