Great Basin National Park: Where art meets nature

Road Journals Blog—Friends had told us to be on the lookout. But when the rugged, snow-capped profile of Mt. Wheeler, which presides over Great Basin National Park, first loomed before us, it was so impressive that we almost forgot. Then my husband Steven, sitting in the passenger seat, suddenly cried out, “What in the world is that?”

Huddled beneath a tree near the fence that bordered the road was what appeared to be an alien wearing a pair of headphones and sitting propped up in a wheelchair.

That’s when we remembered what our friends had told us: the road leading to the park hosts an impromptu exhibition of quirky folk-art sculptures placed there over the years by locals. Witty, macabre, ingenious, and more than a little spooky, they are particularly surreal against the stark desert landscape.


Roadside alien | Peter Jaret

Not far away the figures of Bob and Barb Wire stand like weird scarecrows:


Bob and Barb Wire | Peter Jaret

Also this surrealist masterpiece:


Be careful where you lay down. | Peter Jaret

And this clever play on words:


Great Basin's grate basin | Peter Jaret

One of the spookiest pieces consists of a horse’s skeleton in the driver’s seat of a rusting old car, called “A Horse with No Mane”:


Horse with no mane | Peter Jaret

According to the Great Basin National Heritage Area’s website, the sculptures began to go up in the mid-1990s after a local named “Doc” Sherman created a piece called “Permanent Wave Society” that consisted of rubber gloves filled with cement and mounted on fenceposts along the road—leading area residents to call it "post-impressionist art."

This blog post was first published in July 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.