Discover Beautiful Caves At This Underrated US National Park

Great Basin National Park is located in the isolated town of Baker, Nevada, sitting right on the border between the Silver State and Utah. It is one of the least-visited national parks in the country due to the lengthy trek to get there, making these wildlands a hidden gem. For nature lovers who think they've seen it all, Great Basin National Park offers a next-level opportunity to explore some of the most spectacular caves in the U.S.

There are 40 known caves in Great Basin National Park. The most famous one — and the longest cave system in the entire state of Nevada at over two miles in length — is Lehman Caves. Lehman Cave is embellished with various formations, including stalactites (the widely recognizable, icicle-shaped formations that hang down from cave ceilings), columns, draperies, and more. Notably, Lehman Caves has over 500 cave shields, which are relatively rare, circular formations of mineral deposits known as speleothems.

Caves support a vast array of diverse wildlife and ecosystems. According to the National Park Service, in the past 15 years alone, over 10 new species have been discovered in the caverns at Great Basin National Park. In fact, Lehman Caves is home to species not found anywhere else in the entire world, including the Great Basin cave pseudoscorpion. If you want to truly get a taste of cave life, it's time to head underground in the Lehman Caves at Great Basin National Park.

How to explore the caves

Park visitors can only access the caves via ranger-guided tours. There are two options: the Lodge Room and the Grand Palace. The Lodge Room tour is considered more family-friendly because it is a half mile, easy-to-moderate excursion. Comparatively, the Grand Palace tour is almost one mile long and is a moderate-to-strenuous route (children under five are not permitted on this tour). No crawling is needed on either path, but there are certain passageways throughout the caves that require you to crouch or are only accessible by stairs. Since the caves are extremely humid and remain about 50 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, it's a good idea to wear comfortable clothes and good shoes.

Whether you choose the Lodge Room tour or the Grand Palace tour, you can expect to explore different rooms of the cave that are each filled with ancient formations and unique features, including the famed cave shields. Though there are lights to help you follow the trail and better observe the spectacular caverns, lighting is generally kept at a minimum so it has less impact on the cave's ecosystem. Discovering the depths of Great Basin's caverns is not for the faint of heart, but it can make for an unforgettable outdoor adventure.