• Bristlecone Pine

    Great Basin

    National Park Nevada

There are park alerts in effect.
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  • Wheeler Peak Summit Trail Closed

    A small smoldering fire near the trail has caused the closure of the Wheeler Peak Summit Trail. park staff is observing the fire. Check back here to get an update whne the trail will open. Alpine Lakes Loop and Bristlecone Trail are open. More »

  • Road Work at Great Basin National Park

    Road work will begin in Upper Lehman and Wheeler Peak Campgrounds. Campgrounds will be open but may be noisy and have large vehicles on the roads. The Scenic Drive is open with up to 15 min delays due to road work. Click more for details. Updated 9/9/14 More »

  • Travel Not Recommended - Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive Above 8,000 Feet

    Snow and ice may make travel on Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive unsafe, travel is not recommended at this time. Warmer weather later in the week is expected and conditions may improve. Please check back. 9/29/2014

  • Snake Creek Road and Campsites Closed

    The Snake Creek Road will be closed from the park boundary into the park to begin work on campsites, trails and restroom improvements. Work will continue until snow closes the project. Work will resume in Spring 2015.

Cave / Karst Systems

Lehman Caves

Lehman Caves

Great Basin National Park contains over 40 known caves, filled with unusual cave life and unique features. Some caves contain unique formations such as folia, bulbous stalactites, anthodites, and shields. Some caves contain features that suggest that deep-seated, hydrothermal waters influenced the caves’ development. The park has high-elevation vertical shafts and horizontal solution caves that have formed along fracture planes.

Please Note: The only caves in the park open to the public are Lehman Caves, and one permitted wild cave. All other caves remain closed to protect their fragile ecosystems.

Cave Systems
Four distinctive groups of caves exist in the park. These groups are Lehman Hill Caves, Baker Creek Caves, Snake Creek Caves, and Alpine Caves. Many of the caves within these groups may have formed together either hydrologically and/or structurally.

Lehman Hill Caves
Lehman Caves, Little Muddy Cave, Lehman Annex Cave, and Root Cave make up the Lehman Hill Cave System. The cave passages’ proximity and similar passage orientation supports that these caves may have formed from a single evolving drainage network.

Lehman Annex Cave is the highest in elevation at 7,300 ft. Because of its high elevation, it is thought to have been the first cave to form. Lehman Cave and Root Cave occur at around 7,000 ft. These two caves probably formed around the same period of time. Little Muddy Cave is at an elevation of 6,800 ft. This cave was discovered because of its spring-like appearance. It may have served as a spring for the system at some point in time. A nearby active spring may be today’s representative of the watercourse that formed Lehman Hill Cave System. The spring is buried in glacial alluvium and shows no external signs of being connected with a karst system.

Baker Creek Caves
In 1958, Arthur Lange investigated the caves of the Baker Creek area for the Western Speleological Institute and concluded that there was once only one system that was cut through the Baker Creek area (Bridgemon 1964). Ice, Crevasse, and Wheelers Deep Caves have been physically connected through cave exploration. Model, Systems Key, and Dynamite Caves have been shown to be connected to Ice-Crevasse-Wheeler Deep hydrologically.

Snake Creek Caves
The Snake Creek cave system includes Snake Creek Cave, Indian Burial Cave, and Fox Skull Cave.

Snake Creek Cave is the most popular wild cave in Great Basin National Park. The cave is known for its spectacular aragonite anthrodite and frostwork formations. Signatures from Morrison and Roland in 1886 show a long history of the cave’s visitation. The Snake Creek Cave entrance is at an elevation of 6700 ft, and the cave is approximately 1700 ft long.

Alpine Caves
Alpine caves are caves that occur at high elevation, typically above 9,000ft. Most of the park's alpine caves can also be considered fracture caves since all initially formed along fracture planes.

High Pit is the highest solution cave found in the park and perhaps the entire state, at an elevation of 11,200 ft. The interesting features of this cave are its high elevation location and the nèvè (compacted, old snow) in its interior. The bottom of High Pit is plugged with snow.

Long Cold Cave is located at an elevation of about 10,000 ft. The cave is the deepest cave in the park (perhaps in Nevada) at a depth of 480 ft.

 
Further Reading
Follow these links for more information about caves, cave geology, exploration, conservation, and science.

Did You Know?

Mountain Lion

Great Basin National Park's mountain lions feed primarily on mule deer but also include porcupines, rabbits, bighorn sheep, beaver, elk, marmots, and small rodents in their diets.