The Lehman Caves are definitely a cool Great Basin destination in more ways than one! For those who seek relief from the summer heat, the Great Basin National Park does have a lot to offer. The lower elevations start at just over one mile above sea level and the mountain peaks are well over 10,000 feet tall. There are several campgrounds in the mountains where cool breezes blow year round. The remnants of a glacier on top of Mt Wheeler even offers natural air conditioning for hikers in the summertime! Last but not least, the absolutely coolest summer destination in this big park is Lehman Caves, which has a constant 50ºF temperature year round. No matter how hot the outdoor temperatures get, the Lehman Caves will always offer cool refreshing relief!
Where there is a natural history of water and ice in a region of sedimentary bedrock, there certainly will be plenty of caves underground. Such is the case with the Lehman Caves. The Lehman Caves are actually a gigantic cavern system that extends more than a quarter mile underground. The caves branch out in many directions and each individual cavern varies greatly in shape, texture and color. The colors range from blue and green to orange and pure white.
When viewing the photos, it is easy to think that the National Park Service lit this cave with artificial color lights, but this assumption would be incorrect. The Lehman Caves are only lit with low intensity natural spectrum white lights, so the natural colors can easily be seen. When I used a high intensity flash on my camera, the interior of the cave looked dreary brown and gray, so it is the dim lighting that sets off the subtle colors.
Some sections of the Lehman Caves have a ceiling that is so low, that a spelunker would have to do a seemingly endless belly craw. Other sections of this cave are as spacious as the interior of a cathedral or ballroom. While wandering through this cave, every 30 steps or so will bring on an entirely new breathtaking visual experience, so be prepared to be in a constant state of awe!
Experienced geologists and spelunkers will thoroughly enjoy the Lehman Caves. This cave system has several of the very rarest stalactite and stalagmite formations in the world. In fact, some of the shelf formations can be seen nowhere else on earth. Fans of the almighty bacon will be pleased to know that there actually are natural thin sliced bacon rock formations in this cave that hang from the ceiling. A cave full of bacon certainly is every modern caveman’s dream come true!
Most people are familiar with Hollywood thriller earthquake movies. In those films, somehow or another the ground always opens up during a big earthquake and the stars have to make their way into the cavernous depths underground. The Lehman Caves are perfect for those who want to experience this kind of a Hollywood style earthquake movie scene, because a shifting fault line gap runs through part of this cave system. Visitors can walk down a narrow fault line passageway deep underground, which is quite a thrilling experience in real life.
There are a few matters of importance to consider when planning a Lehman Caves visit. Ranger guided tours of Lehman Caves are the only option and tour reservations must be made ahead of time. Lehman Caves is not a good destination for people that suffer from claustrophobia or for people that are scared of the dark. Parents are advised to keep an eye on small children, so they do not stray away.
The most important thing to be aware when visiting Lehman Caves is White Nose Bat Syndrome prevention. This disease is harmless to humans, but it is deadly for bats. Visitors at Lehman Caves are asked to not wear clothes or shoes that were worn recently while visiting any other caves or mines. Washing old caving clothes thoroughly prior to arrival with a disinfectant is required. Any equipment that was brought into other caves, like cameras or cel phones must be sterilized before entering the Lehman Caves too.
Lehman Caves is a one of a kind spelunking experience that most definitely provides relief from the summertime heat! More information about the cave tours can be found at the Great Basin National Park website and making reservations well in advance definitely is the way to go. No matter how hot or how foul the weather is outside, it is always cool, dry and comfortable inside the majestic Lehman Caves!
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