Great Basin National Park
Entrance to the cave, photo taken in April still snow on the ground.
Inside the Lehman Cave.
The Underground World
Lehman Caves (a single cavern despite the name) extends a quarter-mile into the limestone and marble that flanks the base of the Snake Range. Discovered about 1885 by Absalom Lehman, a rancher and miner, this cavern is one of the most profusely decorated caves in the region.
What we see today began hundreds of thousands of years ago. Surface water, turned slightly acidic from carbon dioxide gas, mixed with water deep below the surface, dissolving the soluble rock at the horizontal water table. Evidence of the dissolving action from the slowly circulating water was recorded in the rock walls of the cave, in the form of spherical domes in the ceilings and spoon-shaped scallops on the walls. Eventually, the water drained from the cave, leaving behind hollow rooms and sculptured walls.
Then came the second stage of cavern development. Water percolated downward from the surface, carrying with it small amounts of dissolved limestone (calcite). Drop by drop, over centuries, seemingly insignificant trickles deposited wonders of stone. The result is a rich display of cave formations, or as scientists call them, speleothems.
Lehman Caves has such familiar cave formations as stalactites, stalagmites, columns, draperies, flowstone and soda straws. There are also some rarities such as shields, which consist of two roughly circular plates fastened together like fattened clam shells, often with graceful stalactites and draperies hanging from their lower plate. Lehman Caves is most famous for its abundance of shields.
A shield called the Parachute and other formations make touring Lehman Caves an unusual and rewarding experience. Delicate helictites, small branching formations that defy gravity, and anthodites, small needle-like crystals of aragonite, are also found throughout the caves. Cave popcorn resembling the edible variety, adorns many walls.
Lehman Caves Tours
Tickets are required for cave tours, and may be purchased two ways:
In person at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center on arrival. (It is strongly recommended to make a reservation.)
In advance via Recreation.gov
Same day reservations are not accepted. Please plan ahead, tours sell out regularly in the summer and around holidays.
Cancellations and reservation changes are handled through recreation.gov.
If you book a Grand Palace tour you do not need to book a Lodge Room Tour. The Lodge Room duplicates half the rooms on the Grand Palace Tour.
|Adult (16 & older)||
5 - 15 years old
|Golden Age cardholder only||
|Golden Access cardholder only||
Lehman Caves may only be entered with a guided tour. 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.
Cave tours are 60 or 90 minutes long. The 60 minute tour travels 0.4 miles, and is ideal for families with young children.
The 90 minute tour, which is 0.54 miles in length, views three additional rooms and includes the Grand Palace, home of the famous Parachute Shield. Children must be at least 5 years old to accompany the 90 minute cave tour.
Cave tours are limited to 20 persons and often sell out in the summer.
Open daily year round except Thanksgiving, December 25, and January 1.
Related DesertUSA Pages
- How to Turn Your Smartphone into a Survival Tool
- 26 Tips for Surviving in the Desert
- Death by GPS
- 7 Smartphone Apps to Improve Your Camping Experience
- Maps Parks and More
- Desert Survival Skills
- How to Keep Ice Cold in the Desert
- Desert Rocks, Minerals & Geology Index
- Preparing an Emergency Survival Kit
- Get the Best Hotel and Motel Rates
Share this page on Facebook:
DesertUSA Newsletter -- We send articles on hiking, camping and places to explore, as well as animals, wildflower reports, plant information and much more. Sign up below or read more about the DesertUSA newsletter here. (It's Free.)