One of the most popular activities at Great Basin National Park is to visit the Lehman Caves. Discovered by Absalom Lehman in 1885, the caves are home to several small creatures including bats, spiders, and mites, and are full of spectacular formations. Cave bacon, stalactites, and stalagmites are everywhere.
Tours of Lehman Caves
There are two tours available. The 60 minute Lodge Room tour visits the Gothic Palace, Music Room, and Lodge Room. It’s 0.4 miles long and is limited to 20 people. It costs US$8 per adult (as of November 2016).
The 90 minute Grand Palace tour visits all of the above sections as well as the Inscription Room and Grand Palace. It’s 0.6 miles long and is also limited to 20 people. It costs US$10 per adult (as of November 2016).
We decided to do the Grand Palace tour. It was a great choice because we were able to see the best rooms in the cave. The ranger who led our tour was enthusiastic and funny, and we learned a lot about the formations present in each room.
The first room we visited was the Gothic Palace, which has very high ceilings and all kinds of amazing formations.
Next was the Music Room. We felt as if we were inside a giant pipe organ. We were then shown how cave bacon and the other formations are created.
The ranger had some intriguing stories about how the Lodge Room was used over the years. It was shocking to many on the tour that in the early 20th century, people would enter the cave in their best clothes for parties. They would bring food and drinks, bands would play live music, and there would be dancing. Lots of garbage accumulated over the years and irreparable damage was done.
If we had taken the Lodge Room tour, it would end here, but we still had a good half hour to go on the Grand Palace tour. We continued with the Inscription Room, where early 20th century visitors would leave graffiti on the walls of the cave.
The final area of the tour was the Grand Palace, which is the most spectacular room in the cave.
Mountain View Nature Trail
When the tour was finished, we decided to do the short Mountain View Nature Trail, which takes you past the original entrance to the cave. It’s hard to imagine visitors over 100 years ago climbing down a rope in formal clothing.