Lehman Caves, Great Basin National Park

Written by on August 18, 2014 in UT Attractions - Comments Off on Lehman Caves, Great Basin National Park

Visitors to Lehman Caves in the Snake Range of Great Basin National Park in Utah/Nevada will be treated to some terrific limestone formations. The stone literally drips from the walls in rare and unusual shapes called shields. There are over 300 shield formations in the cave and all the walls are decorated with stalactites, stalagmites, helictites, flowstone, popcorn and other formations. Nearly every surface is covered with something interesting and a tour of this cave is wonderful.

shield-lehman-caves

Lehman Caves was sculpted over ages by water. Roughly 600 million years ago, much of Nevada and western Utah was covered by a warm, shallow, inland sea. Many thick layers of sediment accumulated on the sea bottom, comprised of silt and decomposed bodies of shell creatures. Over the eons, the lake dried up and the layers compacted into limestone in which Lehman Caves was formed. The limestone was lifted into a mountain range some time later and the rock layers cracked and buckled, allowing water to seep from above. Water in the area is highly acidic and dissolved the limestone carving out cavities in the bedrock. Then, as the caves emptied of water, seeping water from above redeposited dissolved minerals on the floors, ceilings and walls of the cave.

Lodge Room Tour (60 minutes)
You will tour the highlights in this stretch of the caverns, including the Gothic Palace, Music Room and Lodge Room.

Grand Palace Tour (90 minutes)
The Grand Palace Tour take you on a visit to the Gothic Palace, the Music Room, the Lodge Room, Inscription Room and the Grand Palace sections of Lehman Caves, and most especially the famous “Parachute Shield” formation.

Candlelight Tour (60 minutes)
During the summer months, rangers offer a special, historic candlelight tour of Lehman Caves. This guided tour lasts one hour and follows the Lodge Room tour route. Participants will see the cave using historic candle lanterns, without the aid of flashlights or the cave lighting system.

Cave tours are offered daily, year round, except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Park rangers lead all tours, explaining the history, ecology, and geology of the caves. Three different guided tours are offered. Reservations are strongly recommended in the summer months, as well as over holiday weekends.

Great Basin National Park (actually across the border in Nevada) is always a surprise to guests. It’s not flat like many people think. In fact, there are many different eco-systems, so off the beaten path, you’ll find a rugged and wonderful landscape, from desert valleys and snow covered peaks. Located in the shadow of 13,063-foot Wheeler Peak, 5,000 year old bristlecone pine trees grow on rocky glacial moraines. A dark night sky makes for fantastic star gazing. The park offers activities year around. Summer is great for hiking. During the Fall months, the aspen turns the hillsides to molten gold. Winter is a great time to cross country ski and enjoy the snow covered peaks. In Spring, the park explodes into a riot of wildflowers.

Summers can get really warm in the desert areas of the Great Basin, so the best times to visit are in Spring and Fall.

Tickets are required for Lehman Caves tours, and may be purchased in person at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center or in advance by phone at (775) 234-7331 x 242, between the hours of 9 a.m. an 4 p.m. Pacific Time, Monday through Friday.

Just to the south, other attractions include:

Bryce Canyon National Park
Snow Canyon State Park

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