|Geology Field Trip||Teacher's Guide|
Start at the Visitor Center with a short hike on the �-mile long Mountain View Nature trail to see the Pole Canyon Limestone, and pass by the natural entrance to Lehman Caves. Or, take a tour through the cave and walk through the bedrock and amongst beautiful calcite formations. Note here that standing on a limestone outcrop you are below the quartzite in elevation but still stand above it stratigraphically. These layers have been tilted so that, in places, the stratigraphy is confusing. The quartzite is below and older than the limestone.
From the visitor center parking lot, hop in the car and head towards Baker. Make a left turn onto the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive (vehicles longer than 24 feet in length are not recommended on this road). White granite outcrops are visible to the west. Drive approximately 6 miles up the road to the Mather Overlook. Watch out for mule deer!
Mather Overlook. To the southwest, Wheeler Peak stands tall with the cliff face displaying the layers of the Prospect Mountain Quartzite. Glaciers carved the landscape below the peak and part of what is now the Lehman Creek drainage (the creek below you). The glacier probably stopped its advance at a point extending out from the Mather Overlook. Let your eyes follow the drainage down, and they will come to rest on the valley floor. The Snake Valley contained one of the southernmost arms of Lake Bonneville. The rock layers to the east-northeast are also Prospect Mountain Quartzite, as well as the large rocks sitting in the parking area. Take a close look at these rocks. Sedimentary structures, like cross-bedding of sand layers, are preserved in places. Get back into the car and continue up the drive approximately 3 more miles to the Wheeler Peak Overlook.
Wheeler Peak Overlook. From here, you can look directly into the cirque, and view the large patch of ice at the base of the cliff walls. Freezing and thawing ice break rocks off of these walls, and frequently debris can be seen on top of the ice. Is this still a glacier? True glaciers move downhill under their own weight, but this movement is hard to observe when glaciers are moving very slowly or are melting back. The truth isn't clear, and unfortunately, not many people are scientifically observing it to find out.
Explore more if you have the time and energy. Numerous trails within the park lead to other wonderful features like bristlecone pine trees, alpine lakes, a 13,063 foot summit, or a beautiful limestone arch.
For additional hikes, click here Hiking Page
Great Basin National Park
100 Great Basin National Park
Baker, NV 89311-9702
Email: Great Basin National Park
Contact Page: Link
Lehman Cave Tickets: 775-234-7331 x242
Great Basin National Park was established on October 27, 1986. Prior to that time, the area existed as Lehman Caves National Monument, (established in 1922) and Humboldt National Forest's Wheeler Peak Scenic Area. The park was established to set aside exceptional examples of the Great Basin region. Great Basin is a hydrologic region where all precipitation, whether in the form of rain or snowmelt, that occurs in the region stays in the basin where it either evaporates or filters down into underground aquifers� never reaching the ocean. The region covers over 200,000 squares miles, extending from the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the West to the Wasatch Range in the east and from Idaho in the north to southern Nevada. Great Basin National Park's 77,100 acres are, in many ways, typical of the features and conditions found in the Snake Mountain Range and the Great Basin. Because of this Congress set aside the area as a National Park to preserve it for us to enjoy today and for future generations to enjoy tomorrow.
In addition to the geologic diversity and scenic grandeur of the region the park also protects an array of plants and animal habitats, ranging from the upper Sonoran sagebrush communities to alpine tundra zone. Visitors are also able to relive some of the region's history by visiting areas of human activities. In the park, one can find evidence of historic Native American cultures, explorers, trappers, mountain men, miners, settlers and ranchers.
Great Basin National Park is located in east central Nevada, 13 miles from the Nevada-Utah border and about 10 miles south of US Highways 6 and 50 just outside of Baker, Nevada.
What to see and do
The park is home to the famous Lehman Caves. Discovered in the spring of 1885, visitors have been thrilled,for over one hundred years, by the thousands of beautiful, inspiring limestone formations found in the cave. Cave tours are given daily, except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year`s Day. In the summer (Memorial Day to Labor Day) tickets may be purchased up to 30 days in advance, however tickets are sold on a first come, first served basis the rest of the year. For this reason, special accommodations have been developed to assist educational groups in making tour arrangements. Educational programs in Lehman Caves can be scheduled from September 15 through April 15. Programs are best arranged on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
Cave tours are 60 minutes long and limited to twenty-five (25) people, so it may be necessary to divide your group into more than one tour. All educational groups must have at least one adult (over 21) chaperon for every seven children. Because of the large number of visitors in the summer we are unable to accommodate school and/or other educational groups during the time of advance ticket sales. Please call for tours times and availability 775-234-7331 ext. 212.
In addition to cave tours, there are other Ranger led activities available that may be arranged by calling the Lead Interpretive Ranger at least two weeks in advance of your visit. Activities and/or environmental education programs cover a myriad of topics relating to all aspects of the Great Basin region. These programs can include cultural and/or natural resources, history, geology, ranching, wildlife and other subjects related to the area. Given time we will tailor the program to your request if at all possible. Ranger led activities, other than cave tours, will vary from 30 minutes to 90 minutes depending on the subject matter and your request.
There are also numerous walking and hiking trails within the park that may be used during your visit, weather permitting.
Schools and other educational groups visiting the park during periods other than those listed above are subject to the same restrictions as the general public. Should you wish to visit the park during the peak visitation periods please call for tour schedules.
Enclosed is a listing of services in the park as well as services in Baker, Nevada (5 miles). As you can see services are limited. A caf�/gift shop is located next to the Visitor Center and is open from early April through October. If you wish, the caf� can prepare lunch for your group, however advance notice is required for this service. Please call: 775-234-7221 for a list of menu items and to make arrangements. Soft drinks are available, as well as a limited, short order menu on first come, first served basis in the cafe. Hot drinks are available in the Visitor Center for a small donation when the cafe/gift shop is closed. Restrooms and water are available at the Visitor Center.
Camping is available at the Lower Lehman Campground all year. A picnic area is near the visitor center should you choose to bring a lunch.
Hints for making your trip more enjoyable for everyone
Cave tours for school groups are scheduled to be 60 minutes in length. This has proven to be the most appropriate length for the attention span of most classes. We can, however, extend the time based on the assignment given to the children or the subject matter covered. Please let us know in advance if you would like or need a longer tour.
Surface programs are scheduled for 30 to 90 minutes in length. A program that stands alone and does not accompany a cave tour will be 90 minutes in length. A 30 minute "surface" program will normally accompany the cave tour. Children should be given some type of assignment to complete to help generate interest in the programs.
Lehman Caves Program. This consists of a one-hour tour of the cave with a one-half hour program to introduce the group to Great Basin National Park and "What is the Great Basin?"
Please indicate what type of program you are most interest in or prefer when you call to arrange your visit. Be specific if you want certain topics under natural or cultural history.
Discipline is your responsibility
Rangers are trained in education and interpretation, but are not disciplinarians. To insure proper behavior, teachers must have one adult (over 21) with every seven children at all times, throughout the park. The teacher will be held responsible for the behavior of the groups and the conduct of individuals within the group while in the park. Should the Ranger(s) have any difficulties ensuring the protection of the resources, the program may be ended and the group asked to leave the park. Instructors and/or chaperons can be held legally and/or financially responsible for the actions of the group or for individual members of the group.
Rules and Regulations
One adult, over the age of 21, for every seven children anywhere, while in the park
This short list of park "rules and regulations" is not complete. It is designed to inform teachers, as well as answer some of the questions most often asked regarding National Park regulations. If you have any concerns or further questions, please call 775-234-7331, ext. 214.
Rules Regarding Lehman Caves
Although reservations cannot normally be made for any of the Great Basin programs and camping, we do allow reservations for special educational programs made by schools or other interested groups. Reservations for these special educational programs must be made with the park at least two weeks in advance. When making your reservations, for the special educational programs, be prepared to furnish the following information to the park:
Best time to visit the park with a school group
In the past, the most popular time for school groups to visit the park was from mid May to mid June, however for us, this is the most difficult time. Our winter seasonal staff begins to leave the last of April, and our summer staff normally arrives during the first week of May. Training for the new staff begins around the middle of May and last for two weeks or more, depending on their prior experience. Our goal is to be up and running by the Memorial Day Weekend. Because we always want to do our very best for you and your group we are requesting that arrangements for special educational programs be made after September 15th and before April 15.
If those dates are not possible for you, we will make every effort to accommodate your group, at other times. However your group may be subject to the same restrictions as the general public. In the summer (Memorial Day to Labor Day) we have regular scheduled Ranger led activities (cave tours, walks, hikes, campfire programs, slide shows, etc.) that your group may participate in. For additional information on summer activities and scheduled times please call the park, 775-234-7331, ext. 212.
The center is open daily from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year Day. From Memorial Day through Labor Day hours are extended to better serve our visitors. Great Basin National Park has much to offer everyone but your first stop should be the visitor center. Here you'll find friendly park personnel to answer your question, give directions or help you plan your stay. You will also find the Natural History Association's bookstore, displays, maps, slide and film programs and other information. Restrooms are available, with a picnic area close by.
Great Basin Caf�/Gift Shop
Next door to the visitor center is the caf�/gift shop where you may purchase snacks, gifts, souvenirs, etc. If you are planning to eat lunch at the caf�/gift shop, please remember to call ahead to make arrangements so they can be prepared for your group. The caf�/gift shop request that no more that one group of ten children, accompanied by an adult, be shopping in the caf�/gift shop at any one time.
The cave temperature is 50 degrees and the humidity is 98% every day of the year. Everyone is encouraged to wear a jacket in the cave. Although the path is only 0.54 of a mile, the tour takes about 60 minutes. Everyone should wear comfortable walking or hiking shoes with soles that grip well. (The walkways can be wet.)
For the protection of the cave, no food, gum, candy, water or tobacco is allowed. Be sure to eat lunch or have your snacks before you enter the cave.
Cameras are allowed in the cave, however you will need fast speed film and/or a good flash for the pictures to turn out. Please be courteous of others whenever you take a flash picture, a bright flash can temporarily blind someone causing them to fall or bump into the cave.
Wet cave formations are constantly growing. The calcite is deposited in a solution of water and since water and oil does not mix, if we touch the cave walls and/or formations the oil on our skin will prevent these deposits from growing. Because of this, it is very important that students and adults understand that they must not touch the formations while in the cave.
Personal radios, tape players or other "noise makers" are also not allowed in the cave.
The group is to remain together, on the concrete path, while in the cave. No one should ever be in front of the Ranger or behind the trailer, do not permit individual to wander away from the group. Handrails should be used while in the cave. Everyone should be aware of where their head is in relations to the cave ceiling and low overhanging rocks. Or to put it simply, be careful.
If you do not have a fee waiver agreement, the group will be charged a fee. Call the park for current fees. Golden Age and/or Golden Access Passports holders are charged one-half the regular price. Ask about a fee waiver whenever you are making arrangements for your school group or organization.
Mountain View Trail
Located just north of the visitor center, a short one-quarter mile hike will orient you to some of the natural features of the park. A self-guiding booklet is available at the information desk, in the visitor center, for more details of what you will see. The trail is not difficult, however because of the high elevation (6,825 feet), some people may experience some shortness of breath. Take your time, enjoy the natural setting and observe everything.
Great Basin Natural History Association Bookstore
Possibly the best selection of books and maps, about the Great Basin region, can be found in this small section of the visitor center operated by the Great Basin Natural History Association (a non-profit organization). There are post cards, adult and children books, maps, trail guides, stamps, slides and much more for anyone wanting to know about the Great Basin area.
If you arrive by bus, please park on the east side of the parking lot or at the picnic area, just below the visitor center, as the signs indicate.
There is a wheelchair lift to assist users into the visitor center and access to the first room on the cave tour. Wheelchair accessible sites are also available at the picnic area and in the campgrounds. Should you need a sign language interpreter, let the park know ASAP and they'll do everything they can to accommodate your request. If your group requires any other special accommodations, please let the park know in advance of your arrival.
Address, Email & Phone Guide
Activity and Calendar Page
Backcountry Camping Guide
Bonneville Cutthroat Trout
Bristlecone Pine Groves
Brochures, Maps, Written Info
Crosscountry Skiing Guide
Geology of the Snake Range
Geology Field Trip
Jobs, SCA, Volunteer Positions
Lehman Caves Ecology
Lehman Caves Geology
Lehman Caves Tour
Osceola Ditch Story
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