If you visit the Grand Palace in Lehman Cave, a destination on the 90-minute cave tour, you’ll probably have a chance to peer down into the Sunken Gardens. Aside from being drawn to the pools and fascinating cave formations, your eyes will likely notice a trail continuing on into a canyon-like passage, disappearing from view. You might find yourself asking the ranger, “Where does that trail go?” The trail leads to the Talus Room, but it won’t be around for long. The trail visible from the Grand Palace is only the beginning of an 800-foot section of paved walkway that will be removed as part of an effort to restore an area of Lehman Cave to its natural state.
The modern discovery of Lehman Cave occurred in 1885 when Ab Lehman first lowered himself into the natural entrance. Within a year, the majority of cave passages were known, as evidenced by historic graffiti on cave walls. As a result of early explorations, the cave quickly became a well-known tourist destination. Later discoveries occurred in the 1940s and 1950s, but no new cave passages have been found since that time. Throughout its history, Lehman Cave has been open to visitors. In the early days, visitors often explored the cave on their own, using lanterns to navigate through the total darkness. From the time the National Park Service assumed management of the cave in 1930, park rangers have offered guided tours of the cave.