I love caves. Whenever there is an opportunity to visit a cave, I am the first one to volunteer. Visiting Lehman Caves in Great Basin National Park has been on my bucket list for a while. So, it was a guarantee the final destination on our Loneliest Road Adventure was the Lehman Cave tour.
Anytime I plan to visit a national park, nps.gov is my first visit. It makes navigating these places so much easier. We were well aware a lot of the park is closed for the winter season, so the cave tour was the main reason for our visit. Tour tickets sell out regularly, but I knew I could make reservations online at recreation.gov. Parks are so busy and spread out, and not having a game plan can make the visit a real disaster, especially with kiddos. A little bit of planning and of course staying flexible makes for a much more enjoyable visit.
We hit some snow on our way to Great Basin, so we couldn’t even see Mt. Wheeler or the valleys on our trek. Lower Lehman campground is open, but we only checked out one of the campsites for a quick second before jumping back into the warm car.
While waiting for our cave tour to start, we started a fire in the day use area. We cooked hot dogs, grilled cheese, and even had smores! It was cold and the kids ended up in the back of the car at one point, but they didn’t seem to mind. I love that these kids can make an adventure out of anything. The solitude of the snowstorm in the park was so peaceful, even if it was interrupted regularly by giggling babies. We also visited the Lehman Caves visitor center area. It has a nice walking path, a small store, and educational video. In honor of our Nevada State Parks stamp book adventure, we picked up a stamp book to start collecting the stamps of the national parks we visit as a family.
Finally, our cave tour was about to start, and I was super anxious on how the kids were going to take a 90 minute tour where they couldn’t touch anything. I put Annabelle in a carrier and was confident we got all the wiggles out of Oliver. There might have been some bribing with pool time back at the hotel.
It was very exciting for me to share this cave with Oliver. Oliver has built a love for the outdoors and adventures in his short 4 years. I am happy to report he seemed to think the cave was pretty cool too! He was such a trooper through the long tour, not touching the formations, staying relatively quiet, and even took over flashlight duties. He only blinded the park ranger a few times.
Unfortunately, Annabelle wanted nothing to do with being in a carrier or being held in the cave. After the first 10 minutes of our 90 minute tour, Brandon bailed with her in tow. I was sad they missed the cave, but grateful to Brandon for sitting this one out. I definitely learned my 15-month-old won’t be taking any organized tours anytime soon. She is so busy all the time and still learning how to listen. Live and learn. She is super cute though.
The foreign landscape of caves truly fascinates me. I love imagining what it was like for those that discovered these alien worlds. The stories of the earlier visitors climbing down rope ladders in skirts with nothing but a candle are so crazy! I get nervous with my trusty LED flashlight!
I have so much respect for those keeping these places preserved for future generations. The naivety of the early explorers is understandable as these places are so cool! Caves are hard to get to, but we want to share them with the masses. I’m grateful our park rangers and scientists are more aware of the human element and do what they can to repair and protect these delicate treasures.
When the tour was over, the snow had stopped and the clouds were clearing. Before heading back to Ely, we made a short detour to the Utah border. This Robinson family has officially driven all of HWY 50 through Nevada. It is silly, but turning around at the border yielded this view of Great Basin National Park. It was definitely worth it.