• Grand Palace

    Great Basin

    National Park Nevada

There are park alerts in effect.
show Alerts »
  • 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.

  • Astronomy Programs to Resume August 23rd

    After a safety review Astronmy Programs will begin again on a trial basis on August 23rd. More »

  • Road Work at Great Basin National Park

    Beginning July 8, 2014 and continuing through the end of August there will be road work at Great Basin National Park on paved roads throughout the park. Delays of 10 minutes or less may occur. Updated 8/12/2014 More »

Dripstone (Stalactites and Stalagmites)

Stalactites and Stalgmites
Stalactites and Stalagmites in Lehman Caves
soda straw formations

Soda Straw Stalactites


Dripstone: Your Staple Cave Formations
When water seeps into the cave and drips from the ceiling, a stalactite is the result. The first stage is a hollow soda straw stalactite. The water drop travels down the central canal of the soda straw and hangs on the end, depositing more calcite before dropping to the floor. When the hollow tube eventually plugs up, more water runs on the outside of the stalactite, making it thicker and forming a stalactite. Yet there is still some water moving internally through stalactites (hence the helictites that form on some and the recrystallization of the internal portions). If the drop of water that falls still contains calcite when it hits the ground, this may deposit as well to form a stalagmite. They tend to be squatter than stalactites. The longer the water drop hangs from the ceiling, the less likely it is to still contain calcite when it lands on the floor. Not all stalactites have stalagmites beneath them. Columns result when a stalactite and stalagmite join.

Did You Know?

Great Basin Rattlesnake

Great Basin rattlesnakes (Crotalus oreganus lutosus) are the only venomous snake species in Great Basin National Park. These rattlesnakes rarely exceed 40 inches in total length, reproduce every two to three years, and feed primarily on rodents and lizards.