Lehman Caves in Great Basin National Park
Lehman Cave in Great Basin National Park marks my final destination on my journey driving the loneliest road in America. National Parks take us to a different world, and this would be my first time exploring the Earth from deep inside a cave. It did not disappoint. Here are some tips to make sure you get the most out of your adventure exploring Lehman Cave in Great Basin National Park.
Wonderful Stop on the Loneliest Road in America
Great Basin is the only National Park in Nevada, in the town of Baker. It was the last day of my trip. I started in Carson City, Nevada and two days later I am wrapping up my road trip along Highway 50. I highly recommend giving Highway 50 road trip a try. Plan on stopping and spending some time in Carson Valley, Middleton, Eureka, Austin, and Ely before arriving in Baker, Nevada. Plan the timing of the trip because reservations are required to explore Lehman Caves in Great Basin National Park.
Travel Guide to Lehman Caves in Great Basin National Park
THERE IS NO ENTRANCE FEE TO ENTER GREAT BASIN NATIONAL PARK
RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED
Although there’s a chance you can make a same day reservation, but booking a tour in advance is strongly recommended. Know there are different tours to choose from, and they are all approximately an hour and require walking about a half of a mile. A Park Ranger gives a guided tour to about 20 people at a time. Missed reservation times are not refunded or rescheduled, and there is a cancellation fee as well.
Different tours vary in ticket costs. Although the national park has no entrance fee, the tours have a cost. Children are only allowed on certain tours and were about $2.50 to $10.00 per child (under 16 years). Adult tickets (16 years and older) ranged from $10.00 to $15.00 (always check the website for recent costs and tours available).
Check in at the Visitor’s Center and a Ranger will lead you to the cave entrance, give a safety briefing and unlock the door.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LEMAN CAVES
It’s Dark and Narrow
First, it’s dark in the caves. Bringing your own flashlight is required (more on what to bring is listed below). There is no way to find your way through the caves without a flashlight. Even with the Ranger’s flashlight leading the way, you are going to need your own to navigate the path. It’s helpful having many people shine their way ahead. The cave is a natural, uneven rough stone path that cuts through the natural formations. The cave floor can be wet and slippery. Expect tight passage ways and low hanging ceilings at times. Expect squeezing between the natural cave walls, but climbing is not required.
Obviously, the caves are underground and the temperatures are very different. My July visit required taking a jacket with me and I was glad I brought it. Since the tours are about an hour, it does get chilly. Outside, temperatures were in the high 80 degrees (F) but I changed into long pants in the Visitors Center before my tour began. The cave s about 50 degrees (F).
Yes, there are bats
Bats live in the caves, although I did not see any. I’m sure the bats do not want to be the stars of the tours.
It’s Really Cool
So, Lehman Caves in Great Basin National Park were formed from an ancient sea spread across Nevada and Utah 550 million years ago. The calcium formations and sediment came from the sea creatures who called this sea their home. Over millions of years, the sediment was exposed to the elements, rising and falling, dripping through cracks in the caves. The limestone formations created include stalactites, columns, and other rare shield formations.
What To Bring to Great Basin National Park
Hiking the Lehman Caves requires good shoes with a tread. Bring a lightweight jacket or sweatshirt. Bring a flashlight. A pocket flashlight is a good choice. Definitely bring your camera, BUT, make sure you read the list of what you cannot bring.
What You Cannot Bring to Lehman Caves
Basically, anything not listed above. These things you can’t bring into the caves include a bag, purse, fanny pack, backpack. Also, camera bags are not allowed, pocket cell phones are allowed. This also means no tripods, no selfie sticks. And, no strollers, no hiking sticks, no baby backpacks. Finally, no water, no drinks, no food, no gum, no tobacco.
So just to recap: bring a jacket, good shoes, your keys (in your pocket only) and your cell phone. That’s it.
Because of White Nose Syndrome, which is deadly to bats. So, “you may not bring any footwear, clothing or gear (including cameras) into the Lehman Caves that has ever been in any other cave or mine at any time (unless you decontaminate it at the park),” according to Great Basin and the National Park Service.
Additional Tips to Prepare for the Cave Tours
Great Basin is very remote, and its likely there is no cell service. The weather can also change quickly.
Great Basin National Park released this orientation video to watch so you know what to expect. Or, you can take a virtual tour. For additional questions, contact the Lehman Caves Visitor Center, Great Basin National Park, Baker NV.
Enjoy Great Basin
Great Basin National Park is very underrated. In addition to the caves, offers Wheeler Peak Scenic drive, camping and hiking throughout the park. It’s a great place to see the rare Bristlecone Pine. Stargazing is also popular. But the main attraction? The Lehman Caves at Great Basin National Park.