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The Great Basin ( es, Gran Cuenca) is the largest area of contiguous endorheic watersheds – those with no outlets – in
North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continen ...

North America
. It spans nearly all of
Nevada Nevada (, ) is a in the region of the United States. It is bordered by to the northwest, to the northeast, to the west, to the southeast, and to the east. Nevada is the , the , and the of the U.S. states. Nearly three-quarters of Neva ...

Nevada
, much of
Utah Utah ( , ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Utah
, and portions of
California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the List of states and territories of the United States by population, most populous and the List of ...

California
,
Idaho Idaho () is a in the region of the United States. It borders the state of to the east and northeast, to the east, and to the south, and and to the west. To the north, it shares a small portion of the with the province of . With a po ...

Idaho
,
Oregon Oregon () is a U.S. state, state in the Pacific Northwest region of the Western United States. The Columbia River delineates much of Oregon's northern boundary with Washington (state), Washington, while the Snake River delineates much of its ...

Oregon
,
Wyoming Wyoming () is a U.S. state, state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. The List of U.S. states and territories by area, 10th largest state by area, it is also the List of U.S. states and territories b ...
, and Baja California, Mexico. It is noted for both its arid climate and the
basin and range topography Basin and range topography is an alternating landscape of parallel mountain ranges and valleys. It is a result of crustal extension/stretching (extensional tectonics) of the lithosphere (crust and upper mantle (Earth), upper mantle) due to mantle u ...
that varies from the North American low point at
Badwater Basin Badwater Basin is an endorheic basin in Death Valley National Park, Death Valley, Inyo County, California, noted as the lowest point in North America and the United States, with a Altitude, height, and depth, depth of below sea level. Mount Whit ...

Badwater Basin
in
Death Valley Death Valley is a desert valley in Eastern California, in the northern Mojave Desert, bordering the Great Basin Desert. It is one of the hottest places on Earth, along with deserts in the Middle East and the Sahara. Death Valley's Badwater Ba ...

Death Valley
to the highest point of the
contiguous United States The contiguous United States or officially the conterminous United States, also known as the Lower 48, consists of the 48 adjoining U.S. states and the District of Columbia ) , image_skyline = , image_caption ...
, less than away at the summit of
Mount Whitney Mount Whitney ( Paiute: ''Too-man-i-goo-yah'') is the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States The contiguous United States or officially the conterminous United States consists of the 48 adjoining U.S. states (plus the District of C ...
. The region spans several
physiographic Physical geography (also known as physiography) is one of the two fields of geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabita ...
divisions,
biome A biome is a collection of flora, plants and fauna, animals that have common characteristics for the natural environment, environment they exist in. They can be found over a range of continents. Biomes are distinct biological community (ecology ...
s,
ecoregion An ecoregion (ecological region) or ecozone (ecological zone) is an and geographically defined area that is smaller than a , which in turn is smaller than a . Ecoregions cover relatively large areas of land or water, and contain characteristic ...
s, and
desert upright=1.5, alt=see caption, Sand dunes in the Rub' al Khali ("Empty quarter") in the United Arab Emirates">Rub'_al_Khali.html" ;"title="Sand dunes in the Rub' al Khali">Sand dunes in the Rub' al Khali ("Empty quarter") in the United Arab ...

desert
s.


Definition

The term "Great Basin" is applied to hydrographic,
biological Biology is the natural science Natural science is a branch of science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and Taxonomy (general), organizes knowl ...
, floristic, physiographic,
topographic Topography is the study of the forms and features of land surfaces. The topography of an area could refer to the surface forms and features themselves, or a description (especially their depiction in maps). Topography is a field of geoscience ...
, and
ethnographic Ethnography (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ap ...

ethnographic
geographic areas. The name was originally coined by John C. Fremont, who, based on information gleaned from as well as his own travels, recognized the hydrographic nature of the landform as "having no connection to the ocean". The hydrographic definition is the most commonly used, and is the only one with a definitive border. The other definitions yield not only different geographical boundaries of "Great Basin" regions, but regional borders that vary from source to source. The ''
Great Basin Desert The Great Basin Desert is part of the Great Basin between the Sierra Nevada (U.S.), Sierra Nevada and the Wasatch Range. The desert is a geographical region that largely overlaps the Great Basin shrub steppe defined by the World Wildlife Fund, an ...
'' is defined by plant and animal communities, and, according to the
National Park Service The National Park Service (NPS) is an agency Agency may refer to: * a governmental or other institution Institutions, according to Samuel P. Huntington, are "stable, valued, recurring patterns of behavior". Institutions can refer to mechan ...
, its boundaries approximate the hydrographic Great Basin, but exclude the southern " panhandle". The ''
Great Basin Floristic Province The Great Basin Floristic Province is a floristic province of the Madrean Region, Madrean Subkingdom (floristic region), in the Boreal Kingdom (floristic kingdom). It is located in the Western United States. A floristic province (otherwise known as ...
'' was defined by botanist
Armen Takhtajan Armen Leonovich Takhtajan or Takhtajian ( hy, Արմեն Լևոնի Թախտաջյան; russian: Армен Леонович Тахтаджян; surname also transliterated Takhtadjan, Takhtadzhi︠a︡n or Takhtadzhian, pronounced TAHK-tuh-jahn) ...
to extend well beyond the boundaries of the hydrographically defined Great Basin: it includes the
Snake River Plain The Snake River cutting through the plain leaves many canyons and Canyon#List of gorges">gorges, such as this one near Twin Falls, Idaho , 2008 The Snake River Plain is a geology, geologic feature located primarily within the U.S. state of Id ...

Snake River Plain
, the
Colorado Plateau The Colorado Plateau, also known as the Colorado Plateau Province, is a physiographic and desert region of the Intermontane Plateaus, roughly centered on the Four Corners region of the southwestern United States The southwestern United State ...
, the
Uinta Basin The Uinta Basin (also known as the Uintah Basin) is a Physiographic regions of the world, physiographic section of the larger Colorado Plateaus province, which in turn is part of the larger Intermontane Plateaus physiographic division. It is al ...
, and parts of
Arizona Arizona ( ; nv, Hoozdo Hahoodzo ; ood, Alĭ ṣonak) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ...

Arizona
north of the
Mogollon Rim View of Mogollon Rim, east of Pine, Arizona View from Mogollon Rim near Payson, Arizona The Mogollon Rim ( or or ) is a topography, topographical and geological feature cutting across Northern Arizona, the northern half of the U.S. state o ...
. The ''Great Basin physiographic section'' is a geographic division of the
Basin and Range Province The Basin and Range Province is a vast physiographic region Physiographic regions of the world are a means of defining Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. About 29% of Earth ...
defined by Nevin Fenneman in 1931. The
United States Geological Survey The United States Geological Survey, abbreviated USGS and formerly simply known as the Geological Survey, is a scientific government agency, agency of the Federal government of the United States, United States government. The scientists of the ...
adapted Fenneman's scheme in their Physiographic division of the United States. The "section" is somewhat larger than the hydrographic definition. The ''Great Basin Culture Area'' or
indigenous peoples of the Great Basin The Indigenous peoples of the Great Basin are Native American Native Americans may refer to: Ethnic groups * Indigenous peoples of the Americas, the pre-Columbian peoples of North and South America and their descendants * Native Americans in the ...
is a cultural
classification of indigenous peoples of the Americas Classification of indigenous peoples of the Americas is based upon cultural regions, geography, and linguistics. Anthropologists have named various cultural regions, with fluid boundaries, that are generally agreed upon with some variation. These ...
and a
cultural region 's map of native American cultural areas within the territory of the United States (1948) as defined by Melville J. Herskovits influence , homelands of the Celtic languages The Celtic languages ( , ) are a group of related languages ...
located between the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada. The culture area covers approximately , or just less than twice the area of the hydrographic Great Basin.


Hydrology

The hydrographic Great Basin is a area that drains internally. All precipitation in the region evaporates, sinks underground or flows into lakes (mostly saline). As observed by Fremont, creeks, streams, or rivers find no outlet to either the
Gulf of Mexico The Gulf of Mexico ( es, Golfo de México) is an ocean basin 400px, Diagrammatic cross-section of an ocean basin, showing the various geographic features In hydrology Hydrology (from Greek: wikt:ὕδωρ, ὕδωρ, "hýdōr" meaning ...

Gulf of Mexico
or the
Pacific Ocean The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's five oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean (or, depending on definition, to Antarctica) in the south and is bounded by the continents o ...

Pacific Ocean
. The region is bounded by the
Wasatch Mountains The Wasatch Range ( ) or Wasatch Mountains is a mountain range in the western United States that runs about from the Utah-Idaho border south to central Utah. It is the western edge of the greater Rocky Mountains, and the eastern edge of the Gr ...
to the east, the
Sierra Nevada The Sierra Nevada () is a mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with similarity in form, structure, and align ...
and
Cascade Cascade, Cascades or Cascading may refer to: Science and technology Science *Cascade waterfalls, or series of waterfalls * Cascade, the CRISPR-associated complex for antiviral defense (a protein complex) * Cascade (grape), a type of fruit * Bioche ...
Ranges to the west, and the Snake River Basin to the north. The south rim is less distinct. The Great Basin includes most of
Nevada Nevada (, ) is a in the region of the United States. It is bordered by to the northwest, to the northeast, to the west, to the southeast, and to the east. Nevada is the , the , and the of the U.S. states. Nearly three-quarters of Neva ...

Nevada
, half of
Utah Utah ( , ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Utah
, substantial portions of
Oregon Oregon () is a U.S. state, state in the Pacific Northwest region of the Western United States. The Columbia River delineates much of Oregon's northern boundary with Washington (state), Washington, while the Snake River delineates much of its ...

Oregon
and
California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the List of states and territories of the United States by population, most populous and the List of ...

California
, and small areas of
Idaho Idaho () is a in the region of the United States. It borders the state of to the east and northeast, to the east, and to the south, and and to the west. To the north, it shares a small portion of the with the province of . With a po ...

Idaho
,
Wyoming Wyoming () is a U.S. state, state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. The List of U.S. states and territories by area, 10th largest state by area, it is also the List of U.S. states and territories b ...
, and Baja California, Mexico. The term "Great Basin" is slightly misleading; the region is actually made up of many small basins. The
Great Salt Lake The Great Salt Lake, located in the northern part of the U.S. state of Utah, is the largest salt water lake in the Western Hemisphere, and the eighth-largest terminal lake in the world. In an average year the lake covers an area of approximat ...

Great Salt Lake
, Pyramid Lake, and the
Humboldt Sink The Humboldt Sink is an intermittent dry lake bed, approximately 11 mi (18 km) long, and 4 mi (6 km) across, in northwestern Nevada Nevada (, ) is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States, Western region of the Uni ...
are a few of the "drains" in the Great Basin. The
Salton Sink The Salton Sink is the low point of an endorheic basin An endorheic basin (; also spelled endoreic basin or endorreic basin) is a drainage basin that normally retains water and allows no outflow to other external bodies of water, such as ri ...
is another closed basin within the Great Basin. The
Great Basin Divide The Great Basin Divide in the western United States is the ridgeline that separates the Great Basin The Great Basin is the largest area of contiguous endorheic watersheds in North America North America is a continent entirely with ...
separates the Great Basin from the watersheds draining to the Pacific Ocean. The southernmost portion of the Great Basin is the watershed area of the
Laguna Salada Laguna Salada (, ''Salt Lake'') is a Municipalities of the Dominican Republic, municipality (''municipio'') of the Valverde Province, Valverde province in the Dominican Republic. Within the municipality there are three municipal districts (''distr ...
. The Great Basin's longest and largest river is the Bear River of , (an additional ~1% is in the SW corner of WY) and the largest single watershed is the
Humboldt River The Humboldt River is an extensive river drainage system located in north-central Nevada Nevada (, ) is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States, Western region of the United States. It is bordered by Oregon to the northwest, Idaho t ...

Humboldt River
drainage of roughly . Most Great Basin precipitation is snow, and the precipitation that neither evaporates nor is extracted for human use will sink into
groundwater Groundwater is the water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an , transparent, tasteless, odorless, and , which is the main constituent of 's and the s of all known living organisms (in which it acts as a ). It is vital for all known form ...

groundwater
aquifer An aquifer is an underground layer of -bearing , rock fractures or unconsolidated materials (, , or ). can be extracted using a water . The study of water flow in aquifers and the characterization of aquifers is called . Related terms include a ...

aquifer
s, while evaporation of collected water occurs from geographic sinks.
Lake Tahoe Lake Tahoe (; was, dáʔaw, 'the lake') is a large Fresh water, freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada (U.S.), Sierra Nevada of the United States. Lying at , it straddles the state line between California and Nevada, west of Carson City, Nevada, C ...

Lake Tahoe
, North America's largest
alpine lake Alpine lakes are classified as lakes at high altitudes, usually starting around 10,000 feet in elevation above sea level or above the tree line The tree line is the edge of the habitat at which trees are capable of growing. It is found at hig ...

alpine lake
, is part of the Great Basin's central Lahontan subregion.


Ecology

The hydrographic Great Basin contains multiple deserts and
ecoregion An ecoregion (ecological region) or ecozone (ecological zone) is an and geographically defined area that is smaller than a , which in turn is smaller than a . Ecoregions cover relatively large areas of land or water, and contain characteristic ...
s, each with its own distinctive set of flora and fauna. The ecological boundaries and divisions in the Great Basin are unclear. The Great Basin overlaps four different deserts: portions of the hot
Mojave Mojave or Mohave most often refers to: *Mojave Desert *Mojave River *Mohave people Mojave or Mohave may also refer to: Places * Fort Mojave Indian Reservation * Mohave County, Arizona * Mohave Valley, a valley in Arizona * Mohave Valley, Arizona, ...

Mojave
and
Colorado Colorado (, other variants) is a state in the Mountain West The Mountain West Conference (MW) is one of the collegiate athletic conferences affiliated with the National Collegiate Athletic Association The National Collegiate Athletic ...
(a region within the
Sonoran desert The Sonoran Desert ( es, Desierto de Sonora) is a North American desert and ecoregion An ecoregion (ecological region) or ecozone (ecological zone) is an and geographically defined area that is smaller than a , which in turn is smaller than ...

Sonoran desert
) Deserts to the south, and the
cold , a common physiological response to cold, aiming to reduce the loss of body heat in a cold environment File:AntarcticaDomeCSnow.jpg, A photograph of the snow surface at Dome C Station, Antarctica a part of the notoriously cold Polar Platea ...
Great Basin The Great Basin is the largest area of contiguous endorheic watersheds in North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be described as the ...
and Oregon High Deserts in the north. The deserts can be distinguished by their plants: the
Joshua tree ''Yucca brevifolia'' is a plant species belonging to the genus ''Yucca''. It is tree-like in habit, which is reflected in its common names: Joshua tree, yucca palm, tree yucca, and palm tree yucca. This monocotyledonous tree is native to the ar ...
and
creosote bush ''Larrea tridentata'', called creosote bush and greasewood as a plant, chaparral as a medicinal herb, and ''gobernadora'' in Mexico. It is Spanish language, Spanish for "governess", due to its ability to secure more water by inhibiting the growth ...
occur in the hot deserts, while the cold deserts have neither. The cold deserts are generally higher than the hot and have more even spread of precipitation throughout the year. The climate and flora of the Great Basin is strongly dependent on elevation; as the elevation increases, the temperature decreases and precipitation increases. Because of this, forests can occur at higher elevations. Utah juniper/
single-leaf pinyon ''Pinus monophylla'', the single-leaf pinyon, (alternatively spelled piñon) is a pine A pine is any Pinophyta, conifer in the genus ''Pinus'' () of the family (biology), family Pinaceae. ''Pinus'' is the sole genus in the subfamily Pinoideae. ...
(southern regions) and mountain mahogany (northern regions) form open pinyon-juniper woodland on the slopes of most ranges. Stands of
limber pine ''Pinus flexilis'', the limber pine, is a species of pine A pine is any Pinophyta, conifer in the genus ''Pinus'' () of the family (biology), family Pinaceae. ''Pinus'' is the sole genus in the subfamily Pinoideae. The Plant List compiled by t ...
and Great Basin bristlecone pine (''
Pinus longaeva ''Pinus longaeva'' (commonly referred to as the Great Basin bristlecone pine, intermountain bristlecone pine, or western bristlecone pine) is a long-living species of bristlecone pine tree found in the higher mountains of California Califo ...

Pinus longaeva
'') can be found in some of the higher ranges. In
riparian A riparian zone or riparian area is the interface between land and a river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the grou ...
areas with dependable water cottonwoods (''
Populus fremontii ''Populus fremontii'', commonly known as Frémont's cottonwood, is a cottonwood (and thus a poplar) native to riparian zones of the Southwestern United States The southwestern United States, also known as the American Southwest or simply the ...
'') and quaking aspen (''
Populus tremuloides ''Populus tremuloides'' is a deciduous In the fields of horticulture Horticulture is the art of cultivating plants in gardens to produce food and medicinal ingredients, or for comfort and ornamental purposes. Horticulturists grow flowers, ...
'') groves exist. Because the forest ecosystem is distinct from a typical desert, some authorities, such as the
World Wildlife Fund In its most general sense, the term "world" refers to the totality of entities, to the whole of reality or to everything that is. The nature of the world has been conceptualized differently in different fields. Some conceptions see the worl ...
, separate the mountains of the Great Basin desert into their own ecoregion: the
Great Basin montane forests The Great Basin montane forests is an ecoregion of the Temperate coniferous forests biome, as designated by the List of ecoregions in the United States (WWF), World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Geography The Great Basin montane forests ecoregion is locate ...
. Many rare and endemic species occur in this ecoregion, because the individual mountain ranges are isolated from each other. During the Last Glacial Period, the Great Basin was wetter. As it dried during the
Holocene The Holocene ( ) is the current geological epoch In geochronology, an epoch is a subdivision of the geologic timescale that is longer than an age (geology), age but shorter than a period (geology), period. The current epoch is the Holocene E ...
epoch, some species retreated to the higher isolated mountains and have high genetic diversity. Other authorities divide the Great Basin into different ecoregions, depending on their own criteria.
Armen Takhtajan Armen Leonovich Takhtajan or Takhtajian ( hy, Արմեն Լևոնի Թախտաջյան; russian: Армен Леонович Тахтаджян; surname also transliterated Takhtadjan, Takhtadzhi︠a︡n or Takhtadzhian, pronounced TAHK-tuh-jahn) ...
defined the "Great Basin floristic province". The U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency A biophysical environment is a biotic Biotics describe living or once living components of a community; for example organisms, such as animals and plants. Biotic may refer to: *Life, the condition of living organisms *Biology, the study of life ...
divides the Great Basin into three ecoregions roughly according to latitude: the Northern Basin and Range ecoregion, the
Central Basin and Range ecoregion The Great Basin Desert is part of the Great Basin between the Sierra Nevada (U.S.), Sierra Nevada and the Wasatch Range. The desert is a geographical region that largely overlaps the Great Basin shrub steppe defined by the World Wildlife Fund, an ...

Central Basin and Range ecoregion
, and the Mojave Basin and Range ecoregion.


Fauna

Great Basin wildlife includes
pronghorn The pronghorn (, ) (''Antilocapra americana'') is a species of artiodactyl The even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla , ) are ungulate Ungulates ( ) are members of the diverse clade A clade (; from grc, , ''klados'', "branch"), also known ...

pronghorn
, ,
mountain lion The cougar (''Puma concolor'') is a large Felidae, cat of the subfamily Felinae. Native to the Americas, its Species distribution, range spans from the Canadian Yukon to the southern Andes in South America and is the most widespread of any l ...
, and
lagomorph The lagomorphs are the members of the taxonomic order (biology), order Lagomorpha, of which there are two living family (biology), families: the Leporidae (hares and rabbits) and the Ochotonidae (pikas). The name of the order is derived from the ...
s such as
black-tailed jackrabbit The black-tailed jackrabbit (''Lepus californicus''), also known as the American desert hare, is a common hare Hares and jackrabbits are leporids belonging to the genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is ...

black-tailed jackrabbit
and and the
coyote The coyote (''Canis latrans'') is a species of canis, canine native to North America. It is smaller than its close relative, the wolf, and slightly smaller than the closely related eastern wolf and red wolf. It fills much of the same ecologica ...

coyote
s that prey on them. Packrats,
kangaroo rat Kangaroo rats, small mostly nocturnal Nocturnality is an animal behavior Ethology is the scientific Science (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the I ...
s and other small rodents are also common, and are predominantly nocturnal.
Elk The elk (''Cervus canadensis''), also known as the wapiti, is one of the largest species within the deer Deer or true deer are ed s forming the Cervidae. The two main groups of deer are the , including the , the (wapiti), the , a ...

Elk
and
bighorn sheep The bighorn sheep (''Ovis canadensis'') is a species of sheep Sheep (''Ovis aries'') are quadrupedal, ruminant mammals typically kept as livestock. Like all ruminants, sheep are members of the order(biology), order Artiodactyla, the even-toed ...

bighorn sheep
are present but uncommon. Small
lizards Lizards (suborder In biological classification, the order ( la, wikt:ordo#Latin, ordo) is # a taxonomic rank used in the classification of organisms and recognized by the nomenclature codes. The well-known ranks in descending order are: lif ...

lizards
such as the
Great Basin fence lizard ''Sceloporus occidentalis longipes'' is a subspecies of the western fence lizard, commonly called the Great Basin fence lizard. Several subspecies of the western fence lizard, a species of Phrynosomatidae, phrynosomatid lizard, are found in the fa ...
, longnose leopard lizard and
horned lizard Horned lizards (''Phrynosoma''), also known as horny toads or horntoads, are a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific s ...

horned lizard
are common, especially in lower elevations.
Rattlesnake Rattlesnakes are a group of venomous snakes of the genus, genera ''Crotalus'' and ''Sistrurus'' of the subfamily Crotalinae (the pit vipers). All rattlesnakes are vipers. The scientific name ''Crotalus'' is derived from the Greek language, Greek ...

Rattlesnake
s and
gopher snake ''Pituophis'' is a genus of nonsnake venom, venomous colubrid snakes commonly referred to as gopher snakes, pine snakes, and bullsnakes, which are Endemism, endemic to North America. Geographic range Species and subspecies within the genus ''Pit ...
s are also present. The Inyo Mountains salamander is endangered. Shorebirds such as
phalarope __NOTOC__ A phalarope is any of three living species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as ...
s and
curlew The curlews () are a group of nine species of bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrate Vertebrates () comprise all species of animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form ...

curlew
s can be found in wet areas.
American white pelican The American white pelican (''Pelecanus erythrorhynchos'') is a large aquatic soaring bird from the order Pelecaniformes. It breeds in interior North America, moving south and to the coasts, as far as Central America and South America, in winte ...

American white pelican
s are common at Pyramid Lake.
Golden eagle The golden eagle (''Aquila chrysaetos'') is a bird of prey living in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the most widely distributed species of eagle. Like all eagles, it belongs to the family Accipitridae. They are one of the best-known bird of pr ...

Golden eagle
s are also very common in the Great Basin.
Mourning dove The mourning dove (''Zenaida macroura'') is a member of the dove family In human society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social group sharin ...

Mourning dove
,
western meadowlark#REDIRECT Western meadowlark
{{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from move {{R from other capitalisation ...

western meadowlark
,
black-billed magpie The black-billed magpie (''Pica hudsonia''), also known as the American magpie, is a bird in the corvidae family that inhabits the western half of North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large ...

black-billed magpie
, and
common raven The common raven (''Corvus corax''), also known as the western raven or northern raven when discussing the raven at the subspecies level, is a large all-black passerine A passerine () is any bird Birds are a group of warm-bl ...
are other common bird species. Two
endangered species An endangered species is a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group ...
of fish are found in Pyramid Lake: the
Cui-ui The cui-ui (''Chasmistes cujus'') is a large Catostomidae, sucker fish endemic (ecology), endemic to Pyramid Lake (Nevada), Pyramid Lake and, prior to its desiccation in the 20th century, Winnemucca Lake in northwestern Nevada. It feeds primarily ...
sucker fish (endangered 1967) and the
Lahontan cutthroat trout Lahontan cutthroat trout (''Oncorhynchus clarkii henshawi'') is the largest subspecies of cutthroat trout, and the List of U.S. state fish, state fish of Nevada. It is one of three subspecies of cutthroat trout that are listed as Endangered Specie ...
(threatened 1970). Large
invertebrates Invertebrates are animals that neither possess nor develop a vertebral column (commonly known as a ''backbone'' or ''spine''), derived from the notochord. This includes all animals apart from the chordata, chordate subphylum vertebrate, Vertebrat ...
include
tarantula Tarantulas comprise a group of large and often hairy spider Spiders (order Order or ORDER or Orders may refer to: * Orderliness Orderliness is associated with other qualities such as cleanliness Cleanliness is both the abstract stat ...

tarantula
s (genus ''
Aphonopelma ''Aphonopelma'' is a genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer ...
'') and Mormon crickets. Exotic species, including
chukar
chukar
,
grey partridge The grey partridge (''Perdix perdix''), also known as the English partridge, Hungarian partridge, or hun, is a gamebird in the pheasant family Phasianidae of the order Galliformes, gallinaceous birds. The scientific name is the Latin for "partri ...
, and
Himalayan snowcock The Himalayan snowcock (''Tetraogallus himalayensis'') is a snowcock in the pheasant family Phasianidae found across the Himalayan ranges and parts of the adjoining Pamir range of Asia. It is found on alpine pastures and on steep rocky cliffs whe ...
, have been successfully introduced to the Great Basin, although the latter has only thrived in the
Ruby Mountains The Ruby Mountains are a mountain range, primarily located within Elko County with a small extension into White Pine County, in Nevada Nevada (, ) is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States, Western region of the United States. ...
. Cheatgrass, an
invasive species An invasive species is an introduced organism that becomes overpopulated and negatively alters its new environment. Although their spread can have beneficial aspects, invasive species adversely affect the invaded habitat Ibex in an ...
which was unintentionally introduced, forms a critical portion of their diets.
Feral A feral animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular A multicellular organism is an organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms ...
horse The horse (''Equus ferus caballus'') is a domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to ...

horse
s (
mustangs The mustang is a free-roaming horse of the Western United States, descended from horses brought to the Americas by the Spain, Spanish. Mustangs are often referred to as wild horses, but because they are descended from once-Domestication of t ...
) and feral
burro The donkey or ass is a domestic animal This page gives a list of domestic animals, also including a list of domestication of animals, animals which are or may be currently undergoing the process of domestication and animals that have an exten ...

burro
s are highly reproductive, and ecosystem-controversial, alien species. Most of the Great Basin is
open range In the Western United States The Western United States (also called the American West, the Far West, and the West) is the List of regions of the United States#Census Bureau-designated regions and divisions, region comprising the westernmost U. ...
and domestic
cattle Cattle, taurine cattle, Eurasian cattle, or European cattle (''Bos taurus'' or ''Bos primigenius taurus'') are large domestication, domesticated Cloven hoof, cloven-hooved herbivores. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae ...

cattle
and
sheep Sheep (''Ovis aries'') are quadrupedal, ruminant mammals typically kept as livestock. Like all ruminants, sheep are members of the order (biology), order Artiodactyla, the even-toed ungulates. Although the name ''sheep'' applies to many species ...

sheep
are widespread.


Geography

The Great Basin includes valleys, basins, lakes and mountain ranges of the
Basin and Range Province The Basin and Range Province is a vast physiographic region Physiographic regions of the world are a means of defining Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. About 29% of Earth ...
. Geographic features near the Great Basin include the
Continental Divide of the Americas The Continental Divide of the Americas (also known as the Great Divide, the Western Divide or simply the Continental Divide; ) is the principal, and largely mountain A mountain is an elevated portion of the Earth's crust, generally with st ...
, the
Great Divide Basin The Great Divide Basin or Great Divide Closed Basin is an area of land in the Red Desert of Wyoming Wyoming () is a state in the Mountain West region of the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the ...
, and the
Gulf of California The Gulf of California ( es, Golfo de California), also known as the Sea of Cortés (''Mar de Cortés'') or Sea of Cortez, or less commonly as the Vermilion Sea (''Mar Bermejo''), is a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean The Pacific Ocea ...

Gulf of California
.


Great Basin physiographic section

The Great Basin physiographic section of the Basin and Range Province contains the Great Basin, but extends into eastern
Oregon Oregon () is a U.S. state, state in the Pacific Northwest region of the Western United States. The Columbia River delineates much of Oregon's northern boundary with Washington (state), Washington, while the Snake River delineates much of its ...

Oregon
, southern
Idaho Idaho () is a in the region of the United States. It borders the state of to the east and northeast, to the east, and to the south, and and to the west. To the north, it shares a small portion of the with the province of . With a po ...

Idaho
, and the
Colorado River The Colorado River ( es, Río Colorado) is one of the principal rivers (along with the Rio Grande) in the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico. The river drains an expansive, arid drainage basin, watershed that encompasses parts of ...

Colorado River
watershed (including the
Las Vegas metropolitan area The Las Vegas Valley is a major metropolitan area A metropolitan area or metro is a region consisting of a densely populated core city, urban core and its less-populated surrounding territories under the same administrative division, sharing ...
and the northwest corner of
Arizona Arizona ( ; nv, Hoozdo Hahoodzo ; ood, Alĭ ṣonak) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ...

Arizona
). The Basin and Range region is the product of geological forces stretching the earth's crust, creating many north–south trending mountain ranges. These ranges are separated by flat valleys or basins. These hundreds of ranges make Nevada the most mountainous state in the country.


Settlements and roads

The Great Basin's two most populous metropolitan areas are the
Reno-Sparks metropolitan area The Reno–Sparks Metropolitan Statistical Area, as defined by the United States Census Bureau The United States Census Bureau (USCB), officially the Bureau of the Census, is a principal agency of the Federal Statistical System of the United St ...
to the west and the
Wasatch Front The Wasatch Front is a metropolitan region in the north-central part of the U.S. state of Utah Utah ( , ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. Utah is a landlocked U.S. sta ...

Wasatch Front
to the east (with the latter being significantly more populous than the former). The region between these two areas is sparsely populated, but includes the smaller cities of
Elko Elko may refer to: Place names *Elko, British Columbia, Canada United States *Elko, Nevada *Elko County, Nevada *Elko, Georgia *Elko, Minnesota *Elko, Missouri *Elko, New York *Elko Tract *Elko, South Carolina *Elko New Market, Minnesota Transpor ...

Elko
, Ely,
Wendover Wendover is a market town A market town is a European settlement that obtained by custom or royal charter, in the Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, ...
, West Wendover, and Winnemucca. To the north are; in California Susanville, in Oregon
Burns Matthew James Burns (born 31 October 1985), better known mononym A mononymous person is an individual who is known and addressed by a single name, or mononym. In some cases, that name has been selected by the individual, who may have originall ...
and Hines, in Idaho
Malad Malad (Pronunciation: aːlaːɖ is a suburb located in North Mumbai Mumbai (, ; also known as Bombay — the official name until 1995) is the capital city A capital or capital city is the municipality holding primary status in a c ...
and in Wyoming Evanston. To the south are
Cedar City Cedar City is the largest city in Iron County, Utah, Iron County, Utah, United States. It is located south of Salt Lake City, and north of Las Vegas on Interstate 15 in Utah, Interstate 15. It is the home of Southern Utah University, the Utah S ...
, Tonopah, and
Bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Moravian Chu ...
and the very southern area of the basin has the communities of Pahrump,
Palmdale Palmdale is a city in northern Los Angeles County, California, Los Angeles County in the U.S. state of California. The city lies in the Antelope Valley region of Southern California. The San Gabriel Mountains separate Palmdale from the Los Ange ...
,
Victorville Victorville is a city located in the Victor Valley of San Bernardino County, California. Its population as of the 2010 census was 115,903. History In 1858, Aaron G. Lane came to what is now known as Victorville and founded a way station called ...
, and
Palm Springs Palm Springs is a desert resort city in Riverside County, California, United States, within the Colorado Desert's Coachella Valley. The city covers approximately , making it the largest city in Riverside County by land area. With multiple plots ...

Palm Springs
.
Interstate Highways The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, commonly known as the Interstate Highway System, is a network of controlled-access highway network. A controlled-access highway is a type of highway that has b ...
traversing the Great Basin are
Interstate 80 Interstate 80 (I-80) is an east–west transcontinental freeway network. A controlled-access highway is a type of highway A highway is any public or private road A road is a thoroughfare, route, or way on land between two Locat ...
(I-80) and
I-15 I15 may refer to: * Interstate 15, a north–south Interstate Highway in the United States of America * Polikarpov I-15, a Soviet fighter aircraft * I15 (band), a band * , of the Imperial Japanese Navy {{Letter-NumberCombDisambig ...

I-15
, and
I-70 Interstate 70 (I-70) is a major east–west Interstate Highway The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, commonly known as the Interstate Highway System, is a network of controlled-access highways that fo ...

I-70
and
I-84 Interstate 84 may refer to: Interstate Highways in the United States * Interstate 84 (Oregon–Utah), passing through Idaho, formerly known as Interstate 80N * Interstate 84 (Pennsylvania–Massachusetts), passing through New York and C ...
have their respective endpoints within its boundaries. Other major roadways are
U.S. Route 6 U.S. Route 6 (US 6), also called the Grand Army of the Republic Highway, honoring the American Civil War The American Civil War (also known by Names of the American Civil War, other names) was a civil war in the United States fro ...
(US 6),
US 50
US 50
, US 93, US 95 and US 395. The section of US 50 between
Delta, Utah Delta is the largest city in Millard County, Utah, Millard County, Utah, United States. Delta is located at the north eastern end of Millard County along the Sevier River and is surrounded by farm land. The population was 3,436 at the 2010 Unite ...
, and
Fallon, Nevada Fallon is a city in Churchill County in the U.S. state In the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in ...
, is nicknamed "The Loneliest Road in America", and
Nevada State Route 375
Nevada State Route 375
is designated the "Extraterrestrial Highway". The Great Basin is traversed by several rail lines including the
Union Pacific Railroad The Union Pacific Railroad , legally Union Pacific Railroad Company and simply Union Pacific, is a freight-hauling railroad that operates 8,300 locomotives over routes in 23 U.S. state In the , a state is a , of which there are curre ...
's
Overland Route (Union Pacific Railroad) The Overland Route was a train route operated jointly by the Union Pacific Railroad The Union Pacific Railroad , legally Union Pacific Railroad Company and simply Union Pacific, is a freight-hauling railroad that operates 8,300 locomotives o ...
through Reno and Ogden,
Feather River Route as seen in 2003 The Feather River Route is a rail transport, rail line that was built and operated by the Western Pacific Railroad The Western Pacific Railroad was a Class I railroad in the United States. It was formed in 1903 as an attempt ...
, Central Corridor and
Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad SPLA&SL railroad workers, early 1900s in the Tintic Mining District, Utah The Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad was a rail company that completed and operated a railway line between its namesake cities, via Las Vegas, Nevada. Incorporated in U ...
.


History

Sediment build-up over thousands of years filled the down-faulted basins between ranges and created relatively flat
lacustrine plainA lacustrine plain or lake plain is a plain formed due to the past existence of a lake and its accompanying sediment accumulation. Lacustrine plains can be formed through one of three major mechanisms: glacial drainage, differential uplift, and inlan ...
s from
Pleistocene The Pleistocene ( , often referred to as the ''Ice Age'') is the geological Epoch (geology), epoch that lasted from about 2,580,000 to 11,700 years ago, spanning the earth’s most recent period of repeated glaciations. Before a change finally ...
lake beds of the Great Basin. For example, after forming about 32,000 years ago,
Lake Bonneville Lake Bonneville was the largest Late Pleistocene The Pleistocene ( , often referred to as the ''Ice Age'') is the geological Epoch (geology), epoch that lasted from about 2,580,000 to 11,700 years ago, spanning the earth’s most recent per ...
overflowed about 14,500 years ago in the Bonneville Flood through
Red Rock Pass Red Rock Pass is a low mountain pass in southern Bannock County Idaho Idaho () is a U.S. state, state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It borders the state of Montana to the east and northeast, Wyoming to the east, Nev ...
and lowered to the "Provo Lake" level (the
Great Salt Lake The Great Salt Lake, located in the northern part of the U.S. state of Utah, is the largest salt water lake in the Western Hemisphere, and the eighth-largest terminal lake in the world. In an average year the lake covers an area of approximat ...

Great Salt Lake
,
Utah Lake Utah Lake is a shallow freshwater lake in center of Utah County, Utah Utah ( , ) is a state in the Mountain West region of the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), ...

Utah Lake
,
Sevier Lake Sevier Lake is an intermittent and endorheic lake which lies in the lowest part of the Sevier Desert, Millard County, Utah. Like Great Salt Lake and Utah Lake, it is a remnant of Pleistocene Lake Bonneville. Sevier Lake is fed primarily by the B ...
, Rush Lake, and
Little Salt Lake Little Salt Lake (also called Parowan Lake), is a dry lake in east‑central Iron County, Utah, Iron County, Utah, United States. Description The lake has an elevation and is located on the southwestern edge of the Parowan Valley at the eastern f ...
remain).
Lake Lahontan Extent of prehistoric Lake Lahontan Lake Lahontan was a large Endorheic basin, endorheic Pleistocene lake of modern northwestern Nevada that extended into northeastern California and southern Oregon. The area of the former lake is a large portion ...
,
Lake Manly Lake Manly was a pluvial lake Image:LakeManixSediments.JPG, Pluvial Lake Manix sediments (Pleistocene) in the Mojave Desert near Barstow, California. A pluvial lake is a body of water that accumulated in a basin because of a greater moisture a ...
, and
Lake Mojave Lake Mojave is an ancient former lake fed by the Mojave River The Mojave River is an Intermittent river, intermittent river in the eastern San Bernardino Mountains and the Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County, California, San Bernardino County ...
were similar
Pleistocene The Pleistocene ( , often referred to as the ''Ice Age'') is the geological Epoch (geology), epoch that lasted from about 2,580,000 to 11,700 years ago, spanning the earth’s most recent period of repeated glaciations. Before a change finally ...
lakes. Paleo-Indian habitation by the
Great Basin tribes The Indigenous peoples of the Great Basin are Native Americans of the northern Great Basin The Great Basin is the largest area of contiguous endorheic watersheds in North America North America is a continent entirely within the North ...
began as early as 10,000 B.C. (the Numic-speaking Shoshonean peoples arrived as late as 1000 A.D.).
Archaeological Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis Analysis is the process of breaking a complex topic or substance Substance may refer to: * Substance (Jainism), a term in Jain ontology to denote ...
evidence of habitation sites along the shore of
Lake Lahontan Extent of prehistoric Lake Lahontan Lake Lahontan was a large Endorheic basin, endorheic Pleistocene lake of modern northwestern Nevada that extended into northeastern California and southern Oregon. The area of the former lake is a large portion ...
date from the end of the ice age when its shoreline was approximately higher along the sides of the surrounding mountains. The Great Basin was inhabited for at least several thousand years by
Uto-Aztecan Uto-Aztecan, Uto-Aztekan or (rarely) Uto-Nahuatl is a Language family, family of indigenous languages of the Americas, consisting of over thirty languages. Uto-Aztecan languages are found almost entirely in the Western United States and Mexico. T ...
language group-speaking
Native American Native Americans may refer to: Ethnic groups * Indigenous peoples of the Americas, the pre-Columbian peoples of North and South America and their descendants * Native Americans in the United States * Indigenous peoples in Canada, the indigenous p ...
Great Basin tribes, including the
Shoshone The Shoshone or Shoshoni ( or ) are a Tribe (Native American), Native American tribe with four large cultural/linguistic divisions: * Eastern Shoshone: Wyoming * Northern Shoshone: southern Idaho * Western Shoshone: Nevada, northern Utah * Goshu ...

Shoshone
,
Ute Ute may refer to: * Ute (band) Ute is a British-Australian band formed by Ian Dixon on trumpet The trumpet is a brass instrument 332x332px, A tenor horn (alto horn) in E, baritone horn in B, and euphonium in B. A brass instrument is a ...
, Mono, and
Northern Paiute The Northern Paiute people are a Numic Numic is a branch of the Uto-Aztecan languages, Uto-Aztecan language family. It includes seven languages spoken by Native Americans in the United States, Native American peoples traditionally living in the ...
. European exploration of the Great Basin occurred during the 18th century
Spanish colonization of the Americas The Spanish colonization of the Americas began under the Crown of Castile The Crown of Castile was a medieval polity in the Iberian Peninsula that formed in 1230 as a result of the third and definitive union of the crowns and, some deca ...

Spanish colonization of the Americas
. The first immigrant American to cross the Great Basin from the
Sierra Nevada The Sierra Nevada () is a mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with similarity in form, structure, and align ...
was Jedediah Strong Smith in 1827.
Peter Skene Ogden__NOTOC__ Peter Skene Ogden (alternately Skeene, Skein, or Skeen; baptised February 12, 1790 – September 27, 1854) was a British-Canadian fur trader and an early explorer of what is now British Columbia ( en, Splendour without diminishment) , ...

Peter Skene Ogden
of the British
Hudson's Bay Company The Hudson's Bay Company (HBC; french: Compagnie de la Baie d'Hudson) is a Canadian, now American-owned, retail Retail is the sale of goods In economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with ...
explored the Great Salt Lake and Humboldt River regions in the late 1820s, following the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada to the Gulf of California.
Benjamin Bonneville Benjamin Louis Eulalie de Bonneville (April 14, 1796 – June 12, 1878) was an American officer in the United States Army The United States Army (USA) is the land military branch, service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of ...

Benjamin Bonneville
explored the northeast portion during an 1832 expedition. The United States had acquired claims to the territory north of the 42nd parallel via the 1819
Adams–Onís Treaty The Adams–Onís Treaty () of 1819, also known as the Transcontinental Treaty, the Florida Purchase Treaty, or the Florida Treaty,Weeks, p.168. was a treaty between the United States and Spanish Empire, Spain in 1819 that ceded Spanish Florida, Fl ...
with Spain and 1846
Oregon Treaty The Oregon Treaty is a treaty between the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym ...
with Britain. The US gained claims to most of the rest of the Great Basin via the 1848
Mexican Cession The Mexican Cession ( es, Cesión mexicana) is the region in the modern-day southwestern United States that Mexico ceded to the U.S. in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 after the Mexican–American War. This region had not been part of the ...

Mexican Cession
. The first non-indigenous settlement was in 1847 in the Great Salt Lake Valley, leading to first American religious settlement effort of the
Mormon Mormons are a religious Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is v ...
provisional
State of Deseret The State of Deseret () was a provisional U.S. state, state of the United States, proposed in 1849 by settlers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) in Salt Lake City. The provisional state existed for slightly over ...
in 1849 in present-day Utah and northern Nevada. Later settlements were connected with the eastern regions of the 1848
California Gold Rush The California Gold Rush (1848–1855) was a that began on January 24, 1848, when was found by at in . The news of gold brought approximately 300,000 people to from the rest of the United States and abroad. The sudden influx of gold into ...
, with its immigrants crossing the Great Basin on the
California Trail The California Trail was an emigrant trailIn the American Old West The American frontier, also known as the Old West or the Wild West, includes the geography, history, folklore, and culture in the forward wave of American expansion that b ...
along Nevada's
Humboldt River The Humboldt River is an extensive river drainage system located in north-central Nevada Nevada (, ) is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States, Western region of the United States. It is bordered by Oregon to the northwest, Idaho t ...

Humboldt River
to
Carson Pass Carson Pass is a mountain pass on the crest of the central Sierra Nevada (USA), Sierra Nevada, in the Eldorado National Forest and Alpine County, California, Alpine County, eastern California. The pass is traversed by California State Route 88. It ...
in the Sierras. The
Oregon Territory The Territory of Oregon was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from August 14, 1848, until February 14, 1859, when the southwestern portion of the territory was admitted to the United States, Union as the Orego ...
was established in 1848 and the
Utah Territory The Territory of Utah was an organized incorporated territory of the United States and the founding of the United States: Kingdom of Great Britain, British claims are indicated in red and pink, while Spanish claims are in orange and yellow. Th ...
in 1850. In 1869 the First Transcontinental Railroad was completed at
Promontory Summit Promontory is an area of high ground in Box Elder County, Utah, Box Elder County, Utah, United States, 32 mi (51 km) west of Brigham City, Utah, Brigham City and 66 mi (106 km) northwest of Salt Lake City. Rising to an elevatio ...
in the Great Basin. Around 1902, the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad was constructed in the lower basin and Mojave Desert for California-Nevada rail service to Las Vegas, Nevada. To close a 1951 Indian Claims Commission case, the Western Shoshone Claims Distribution Act of 2004 established the United States payment of $117 million to the Great Basin tribe for the acquisition of . The Dixie Valley, Nevada, earthquake (6.6–7.1) in the Great Basin was in 1954.


Climate

Climate varies throughout the Great Basin by elevation, latitude, and other factors. Higher elevations tend to be cooler and receive more precipitation. The western areas of the basin tend to be drier than the eastern areas because of the
rain shadow A rain shadow is an area of significantly reduced rainfall behind a mountainous region, on the side facing away from prevailing winds, known as its Windward and leeward#Meteorological significance, leeward side. Evaporation, Evaporated moistu ...

rain shadow
of the
Sierra Nevada The Sierra Nevada () is a mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with similarity in form, structure, and align ...
. Most of the basin experiences a semi-arid or arid climate with warm summers and cold winters. However, some of the mountainous areas in the basin are high enough in elevation to experience an
alpine climate Alpine may refer to: Places * Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest and most extensive mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. ...
. Due to the region's altitude and aridity, most areas in the Great Basin experience a substantial
diurnal temperature variation In meteorology Meteorology is a branch of the atmospheric sciences which includes atmospheric chemistry and atmospheric physics, with a major focus on weather forecasting. The study of meteorology dates back millennia, though significant progr ...
.


Significant special designations

*
Great Basin National Park Great Basin National Park is an American national park located in White Pine County, Nevada, White Pine County in east-central Nevada, near the Utah border, established in 1986. The park is most commonly entered by way of Nevada State Route 488, ...

Great Basin National Park
: President
Warren G. Harding
Warren G. Harding
created Lehman Caves National Monument by presidential proclamation on January 24, 1922. It was incorporated into the national park on October 27, 1986. *
Death Valley National Park Death Valley National Park is an American national park that straddles the California–Nevada border, east of the Sierra Nevada. The park boundaries include Death Valley, the northern section of Panamint Valley, the southern section of Eureka V ...

Death Valley National Park
: Death Valley National Monument was designated in 1933 and the park was substantially expanded and became a national park in 1994. *
Joshua Tree National Park Joshua Tree National Park is an American national park#REDIRECT National park A national park is a park in use for Conservation (ethic), conservation purposes, created and protected by national governments. Often it is a reserve of natural ...

Joshua Tree National Park
was initially created as a National Monument on 10 August 1936, containing , after Minerva Hoyt led activism aimed at persuading the state and federal governments at protecting the area. The park was elevated to a National Park on 31 October 1994 by the Desert Protection Act, which also added 234,000 acres to the park. *
Valley of Fire State Park Valley of Fire State Park is a public recreation and nature preservation area covering nearly located south of Overton, Nevada, Overton, Nevada. The state park derives its name from red sandstone formations, the Aztec Sandstone, which formed f ...
was designated as a
National Natural Landmark The National Natural Landmarks (NNL) Program recognizes and encourages the conservation of outstanding examples of the natural history of the United States. It is the only national natural areas program that identifies and recognizes the best exa ...
in 1968 * The
Golden Spike National Historic Site Golden Spike National Historical Park is a U.S. National Historical Park located at Promontory Summit, north of the Great Salt Lake The Great Salt Lake, located in the northern part of the U.S. state of Utah, is the largest salt water lake ...
as authorized as a National Historic Site on April 2, 1957, under non-federal ownership. It was authorized for federal ownership and administration by an act of
Congress Congresses are formal meetings of the representatives of different countries A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, ...

Congress
on July 30, 1965. It was redesignated as a National Historical Park in 2019. * The
Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail The Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail is a National Park Service The National Park Service (NPS) is an List of federal agencies in the United States, agency of the federal government of the United States that manages all List of ar ...
was designated in 1990. * The
Pony Express#REDIRECT Pony Express The Pony Express was a mail service delivering messages, newspapers, and mail using relays of horse-mounted riders that operated from April 3, 1860, to October 26, 1861, between Missouri Missouri is a U.S. state, sta ...

Pony Express
and
California California is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...
National Historic Trail Image:Natl Hist Trail route signs.JPG, 300px, Signs used along the historic and scenic trails to mark the modern roads and significant points. The National Trails System is a series of national trails in the United States designated "to promote th ...
s were designated in 1992. * The
Mojave National Preserve Mojave National Preserve is a United States National Preserve located in the Mojave Desert of San Bernardino County, California, USA, between Interstate 15 and Interstate 40. The preserve was established October 31, 1994, with the passage of t ...

Mojave National Preserve
was established October 31, 1994 with the passage of the California Desert Protection Act by the
US Congress The United States Congress is the legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, country or city. They are often contrasted wi ...
. * The Black Rock Desert–High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area was created by the Black Rock Desert–High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area Act of 2000. * The
Old Spanish National Historic Trail Old or OLD may refer to: Places *Old, Baranya Old () is a village in Baranya (county), Baranya county, Hungary. Populated places in Baranya County {{Baranya-geo-stub ..., Hungary *Old, Northamptonshire Old (previously Wold and befor ...
was designated in 2002. * The
Great Basin National Heritage AreaGreat Basin National Heritage Area is a federally designated National Heritage Area in Nevada and Utah, including White Pine County, Nevada and Millard County, Utah. The area was designated to recognize and promote the scenic and cultural resources a ...
was designated on October 13, 2006, under P.L.109-338 * A section of the
Amargosa River The Amargosa River is an intermittent waterway, 185 miles (298 km) long, in southern Nevada Nevada (, ) is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States, Western region of the United States. It is bordered by Oregon to the northwest ...
was a designated Wild and Scenic River in 2009 and is also a
Bureau of Land Management The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is an agency within the responsible for administering . Headquartered in and with oversight over , it governs one eighth of the country's landmass. President created the BLM in 1946 by combining two ex ...
Natural Area. * The
Basin and Range National Monument
Basin and Range National Monument
was designated on July 9, 2015, under the authority of the
Antiquities Act The Antiquities Act of 1906, (, , ), is an act that was passed by the United States Congress The United States Congress is the legislature of the federal government of the United States. It is Bicameralism, bicameral, comprising a low ...
by President
Barack Obama Barack Hussein Obama II ( ; born August 4, 1961) is an American politician and attorney who served as the 44th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government ...

Barack Obama
on the boundary of the Great Basin and Mojave Deserts, encompassing
Garden A garden is a planned space, usually outdoors, set aside for the cultivation, display, and enjoyment of plants and other forms of nature. The single feature identifying even the wildest wild garden A wildlife garden (or wild garden) is an Bioph ...
and Coal Valleys in Southern Nevada.


See also

*
Bonneville Salt Flats The Bonneville Salt Flats are a densely packed Salt pan (geology), salt pan in Tooele County, Utah, Tooele County in northwestern Utah. The area is a remnant of the Pleistocene Lake Bonneville and is the largest of many salt flats located west of ...

Bonneville Salt Flats
* Great Basin Landscape Conservation Cooperative *
Hastings Cutoff The Hastings Cutoff was an alternative route for westward emigrants to travel to California, as proposed by Lansford Hastings in ''The Emigrant's Guide to Oregon and California''. The ill-fated Donner Party infamously took the route in 1846. Des ...
* Hidden Cave, an archaeological cave site located in the Great Basin * Nevada Basin *
Salton Sea The Salton Sea is a shallow, landlocked, highly-saline body of water in Riverside and Imperial Imperial is that which relates to an empire, emperor, or imperialism. Imperial or The Imperial may also refer to: Places United States * Imper ...

Salton Sea


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"Great Basin"
from the ''Utah History Encyclopedia'' by Gary B. Peterson * {{Authority control Divided regions Drainage basins of North America Endorheic basins of the United States Floristic provinces Regions of Nevada Regions of the Western United States Regions of Utah