Join us on a birding and wildlife adventure to Nevada’s Great Basin, the largest US watershed with no outlet to the ocean. Multiple types of desert, all with their own flora and fauna, are found in the scenic, mountainous Great Basin, bounded west and east by the Sierra Nevada and the Wasatch Mountains, covering Nevada & Utah and stretching into Oregon and California.
We travel to northern Nevada to Great Basin National Park, which rises from 5,280 to 10,000 feet, creating a variety of plant communities along the way, from sagebrush grasslands, to Ponderosa, Alpine and Juniper-Pinyon woods. Ancient bristlecone pine forest lines our path to the park’s small glacier. We have chances here for the "Black" form of Rosy Finch, Rock Wren, and the ubiquitous Raven. Other birds we hope to see in the park include Western species like Clark's Nutcracker, Stellar's Jay, Townsend's Solitaire, Mountain Chickadee, Bushtit, Pinyon Jay, Mountain Bluebird, Solitary Vireo, Say's Phoebe Western Tanager and Black-headed Grosbeak. Great Basin mammals include Pronghorn, Mule Deer, Mountain Lion, Black-tailed jackrabbit and Desert Cottontail.
The detailed itinerary for this terrific tour is coming soon!
Great Basin Sunrise
Great Basin Scenic
Great Basin Rainbow
Great Basin Lake
Bryan Shirley graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Japanese/International Economics. He lived in Japan for 3 years when he was 20 and fell in love with the language and culture and has been guiding and birding there ever since. Besides guiding in Japan, he regularly leads tours for Japanese birding groups around the US and other countries. When not guiding he has been involved with various DWR and USFWS projects such as relocating Sage Grouse, breeding bird surveys, and bird-related projects for private environmental consulting firms. He also has volunteered his time to serve as president of Utah County Birders and organizes the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Counts for Provo and Payson, Utah where he currently resides. He currently is a member of the Utah Bird Records Committee.
Other trips with Bryan Shirley
Japan Birding & Nature FULL! See Summer in Hokkaido, Japan!January 7 - 23, 2024
Guyana: Unspoiled WildernessMarch 8 - 20, 2024
Texas Hill Country: Birds + Full Solar Eclipse! FULL!April 4 - 9, 2024
NEW! Wild Japan: Summer In HokkaidoJune 18 - 29, 2024
Arizona Monsoon Madness Birding & Nature in a Season of Wonder!August 1 - 8, 2024
Deltas to Dunes: A Botswana-Namibia Safari Full...Check out our Grand Uganda tour in July!September 27 - October 15, 2024
Japan Birding & Nature January 7 - 23, 2025
- Japan Birding & Nature
Kent was born and raised in Nebraska and this is where he developed his passion for birds and nature in general. He worked 20 years at Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary where he helped countless visitors experience the annual spring staging of Sandhill Cranes along the Platte River in south-central Nebraska. While at Rowe, he conducted bird surveys on the sanctuary and coordinated and led birding field trips for the annual Audubon Nebraska Crane Festival. He also spent three seasons leading tours to see displaying Greater Prairie-Chickens and Sharp-tailed Grouse for Calamus Outfitters in the Nebraska Sandhills. Kent and his partner Kathy currently reside in southwest Virginia.
Other trips with Kent Skaggs
Japan Birding & Nature FULL! See Summer in Hokkaido, Japan!January 7 - 23, 2024
Costa Rica Birding & Nature Full! Take a look at our July Costa Rica tour!February 11 - 18, 2024, w/Pacific Coast extension
Platte River Cranes: A Migration SpectacularMarch 10 - 16, 2024
Platte River Cranes: A Migration SpectacularMarch 17 - 23, 2024
Georgia Coastal Birding Little St. Simon Island & SavannahApril 26 - May 3, 2024
Ohio: The Biggest Week in BirdingMay 8 - 15, 2024
Iceland Birding & Nature FULL - Check our our Finland & Norway birding tour!June 8 - 17, 2024
- Japan Birding & Nature
Essential Information +
This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have the best experience possible. If you only read one section, this one is key!
Ahead of Your Tour
- Please talk with your doctor about general health needs. It is a good idea to consult with your doctor about general vaccinations recommended for travel.
- Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed. After you make travel reservations, please send a copy of your travel itinerary to the Naturalist Journeys office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Travel insurance in case of serious medical emergency is recommended. Full health coverage and repatriation is available through Allianz Travel Insurance.
- Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Remember to pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.
We will share a copy of your health and emergency contact information with your guide. This information will be kept confidential but is very important in case of a medical emergency. In addition to bringing any prescription medications with you, we recommend that you have a copy of the prescriptions in case of loss.
Pace of the Tour & What to Expect
You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of hotels (our eContact List) a few weeks before your departure. This will serve as an outline for each day and alert you to any recent changes made in the schedule or to our hotels, if needed.
Our journeys are set up to follow the rhythm of nature. Our focus is on birding and nature; we offer full, well-planned field days and often get up early for that magical time around dawn. We generally follow the published itinerary, but we stay flexible to the weather, wildlife opportunities and the interests of the group. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.
The pace of our Naturalist Journeys tours is moderate; to fully participate you should be able to get in and out of vehicles several times a day, and walk 1-3 miles over uneven terrain. It is important to participate with a flexible attitude as adjustments may be made in our schedule to make the most of our time in the field or for other purposes at your guide's discretion. We are not a “listing” bird company that drills down on target species, but at times we do wait for those special species unique to the places we visit. During the day, we take time to stop for photos and for educational opportunities to learn about conservation projects, landscapes, and geology. We appreciate other taxa as well as birds, with mammals often the biggest draw but plants and butterflies are also very popular. Our clients often lend their own expertise to the mix.
We like to make meals a fun and memorable part of the experience, too. Breakfasts are often at hotels, and we carry snacks, fruit, and water in the vans each day. Lunches are a mix of picnics in the field (weather dependent) and a chance to dine with locals at small cafes and restaurants. For dinner, we pride ourselves in our homework to keep up with the best choices for dining, choosing restaurants with atmosphere that specialize in local foods. On occasion we keep dinner simple to go back out in the field for sunset wildlife viewing or night walks. In some remote locations, our choices are limited. If you are tired, room service for dinner may be an option you can choose.
Food & Drink
We carry water and juices/cold drinks in the cooler each day, and sodas if people like them. Please also plan on bringing and filling your water bottle for hiking each day. We try to use as few plastics as possible!
Packing, Clothing & Laundry
Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Please pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.
Dress is informal and is casual even at restaurants. Layering is a great way to stay comfortable. Protective clothing is essential, whether it be from from sun, rain, cold, insects, or vegetation. You need closed toe shoes, and we comfortable walking shoes with good tread. Hiking boots with good support for hiking and on rocky terrain can work well.
Many people ask how much to plan to bring as spending money. Part of that depends on how much you want to shop. Most shops will take VISA and MasterCard or American Express. Typical items people purchase include local souvenirs and T-shirts, caps, and natural history books. You may want to bring cash for drinks with dinner (if available) or smaller local purchases.
Expect the normal tipping protocol to apply for hotel maids and bar service. If at the end of the tour, you would like to show your appreciation to your guides, tipping is entirely appropriate but at your discretion. We hope that you will be pleased with all professional services. Gratuities for group meals are included. For your birding tour guide, we suggest $10-$15 per day per guest. Note that if there is more than one guide, this amount can be split among them.
Cell Phones & Internet Service
Wi-Fi and cell phone service are available in most US destinations, although there are some exceptions in remote locations. Wi-Fi is generally provided in all hotels, lodges, and restaurants you visit, at least in public areas. Please refrain from taking or making cell phone calls in the vehicles when traveling with other passengers unless it appears to be an emergency as this disrupts other guests – please plan cell phone calls on your own time.
Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or in any situation where the group is participating in an activity together, such as a vehicle excursion or a guided walk. Please respect all designated smoking areas at hotels and restaurants.
For this tour, your guides will drive travelers in either full-size or mini-vans or a combination of those two. We ask all attendees to please rotate your seating, so you ride with different drivers and alternate between front and back seats.
Photo Release & Sharing
We take many group photos and will share photos with the group. And after your tour, we will organize a chance to share photos via Dropbox or Google Photos. Please note that this is our policy and if you prefer to be excluded, we need to know ahead of your tour.
By registering for this tour, you agree to grant to Naturalist Journeys and its authorized representatives permission to record photos and/or video of your participation in the tour. You further agree that any or all of the material photographed may be used, in any form, as part of any future publications, brochures, or other printed materials used to promote Naturalist Journeys, and further that such use shall be without payment of fees, royalties, special credit or other compensation.
Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at email@example.com or telephone our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey.
Suggested Reading List +
There are many titles of interest for Nevada and the Great Basin; the following are a few that we have enjoyed that can get you started.
Merlin App. A phone-based birding app from Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology. You can download it here.
History & Culture
Your guide will also have a selection of reference books and materials for participants to share. As an Amazon Associate, Naturalist Journeys earns from qualifying purchases, and may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page at no added cost to you.
Photo credits: Banners: Bighorn Ram (NJ Stock), Great Basin National Park (NJ Stock), Long-billed Curlew (NJ Stock), Wildflowers (NJ Stock), Yellow-bellied Marmot (NJ Stock), Black-billed Magpie (NJ Stock), Wildflowers (NJ Stock) Thumbnails: Downy Woodpecker (NJ Stock), Beaver (NJ Stock), Western Meadowlark (NJ Stock)