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 »
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.
NPS PHOTO maci macpherson
The Wonder, Power, and Mystery of Caves
Just what is a cave? A cave is a naturally occurring underground cavity. There are many different types of caves, including solution caves, tectonic caves, boulder caves, sea caves, and lava tubes. Tectonic caves tend to be relatively small and can form in almost any type of rock that has been highly fractured. Lava tubes are the fastest forming type of cave. They form as a flow of lava is running down an inclined surface. The surface of the lava flow cools from contact with the air, and hardens to rock, while the inside keeps flowing. When the inside drains out, the result is a black tube of rock. Some caves may have ice in them seasonally, or year round. Depending on the shape of a cave and its entrance, caves can trap cold air and contain permanent ice. Lava tubes can often be cold air traps. Solution caves, such as Lehman Caves, can have a great variety of formations and passage patterns.
Lehman Caves as a Geologic Puzzle
Lehman Caves present an interesting geologic puzzle. The geologists believe that they have figured out many of the mysteries of the cave, but there are many more unanswered questions. There is a bacteria in the cave that could be studied, along with potential bacterial causes of moonmilk, colorations, and condensation corrosion. A paleontological dig could turn up some very interesting results and could help determine if and when there might have been another entrance to the cave. The Gypsum Annex is an interesting part of the cave because it is so incredibly different from the main cave. Why? It might be possible to learn more about past climatic conditions by studying the speleothems. Many opportunties for discovery and learning still exist in Lehman Caves. The mysteries continue, and the answers to these questions will only lead us to more questions.
Did You Know?
The Sagebrush, a very common resident of Great Basin National Park, is well adapted to the area. The Big Sagebrush root system can extend as much as 90 feet in circumference. This adaptation allows the plant to collect as much water as possible during infrequent rains.