Tag Archives: cave

Wandering in the dark at Carlsbad Caverns

family with lanterns

Carlsbad caverns was our 3rd cave experience of the trip, after Great Basin National Park (Nevada) and Horne Lake Basin (Vancouver Island, BC).  This was definitely the biggest and the best!

In Great Basin National Park we did a ranger lead tour and learned alot about the world of caves. I thought we’d mix it up a bit this time and so we did a ranger lead tour of the Left Hand Tunnel, which is conducted by candle lantern. It was great fun and really helped give you a sense of what the original exploration environment was like.

lee hunter 750 ft underground

This national park is a great example of the changing philosophies within the National Park system. It has 2 elevator shafts and used to have a full restaurant and retail store 750 ft below ground at the base of the elevators. The logic at the time was to make the cave more accessible to the public vs the core preservation of the cave, which is what we experienced in Great Basin.

Both Tim and Hunter tackled the junior ranger program (Tim doing the 13yrs and older version) and we all had alot of fun. It really helps make for a great learning experience while you are in the park. This was definitely a great family experience. We spent about 5 hours here but could have easily spent the entire day if we hadn’t needed to continue our travels south east…


Great Basin National Park & Lehman Caves, Nevada

nevada cave features

Great Basin National Park is tucked in a remote corner of eastern Nevada, just off historic highway 50. It is the 9th least visited National Park in the USA so the staff were happy to see us! This obviously leads to curiosity about who else is in the top 10 least visited parks – check out the list here… http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/national-parks-124040809#slide-9. Not a surprise to see 3 Alaska parks in the top 5.

Anyways… one of the main features in the park is Lehman Caves so we thought it would be a great stop on our way to Reno. We pulled in just before dark and were able to pick up a Junior Ranger book to work on and find a camp site. There was about an inch of snow on the ground and the campsite was at 7300 feet elevation so things were definitely cool that night!

nevada cave ranger katie

The next morning we were up bright and early to make it to the Ranger Station for the 9am cave tour. Ranger Katie toured us through the caves for 90 minutes and it was so interesting and captivating. To make it accessible, the park has put in a paved entrance and exit, paved floor path and LED lighting throughout. They have done a good job with the lights and paths and they aren’t all that intrusive into the experience. It was much better than we had anticipated.

hunter cave candle

Lehman caves was discovered in the late 1800’s and the first explorers paid $1.00 and were given a coffee can with a candle inside and the guarantee that someone would come in after them if they did not return within 24 hours of going into the cave. At one point Ranger Katie had Hunter hold a coffee can lantern and then turned all of the lights around us off. She then had Hunter blow out his candle and we were all left in the dark imagining what it would have been like to be exploring, trip and fall and have your candle snuffed out. Total darkness with no sense of which direction to turn.

Doing the Junior Ranger book the night before was great as we all learned about Cave features such as stalactites (hang down), stalagmites (come up from the ground), cave popcorn, cave drapery, cave parachutes and the best of all – cave BACON (named for it’s wavy shape & brown colour)!

Hunter successfully completed another Junior Ranger book and got his badge after being sworn it. Note the coat & hat due to it being very WINTER like 🙁hunter jnr ranger swear in