Column Formation Inside Lehman Caves

Visiting Lehman Caves for the Mines of Moria Challenge

We’ve had a couple set backs in our Conqueror Challenge journey recently.  We decided to take the long route for The Fellowship medal but I was not able to complete the entire challenge by walking alone.  I finally finished all 680 miles with a combination of walking, swimming, and cycling on my stationary bike.  Now we are onto the Mines of Moria Challenge.

The Fellowship sets out from Rivendell and heads towards Mordor.  Gandalf and Strider attempt to lead the party through the Pass of Caradhras but they cannot safely traverse the snowy terrain.  Instead, the party back tracks and decides to attempt to pass through the Mines of Moria.

Column Formation Inside Lehman Caves
Column Formation Inside Lehman Caves

We opted to visit Lehman Caves inside Great Basin National Park to represent part of our journey through the Mines of Moria Conqueror Challenge.  This medal requires completing 40 miles and we plan to walk only for this journey.

Great Basin National Park is located in Nevada and is known for its dark skies and the Lehman Caves system.  The park is much quieter than Death Valley, Zion, or some of the other parks we’ve been to.  Its a little more secluded but a great place to connect with nature.   There is currently no entrance fee for the park itself, but Lehman Cave tours require a fee and must be reserved in advance at  The park also offers astronomy programming throughout the year.  Please always check the current conditions before you head out for the park: Great Basin National Park.

Lehman Caves Music Room
Music Room of Lehman Caves

The caves are stunning and feature all sorts of formations: shields, soda straws, columns, and flowstone (or cave bacon as it is sometimes called).  Tours are led by a park-ranger.  As we descended into the cool, darkness I was very grateful to have a guide like Frodo as he navigated the mine.

Soda Straw Formations Inside of Lehman Caves
Soda Straw Formations Lehman Caves

Our park ranger taught us all about the history of the Cave system.  It was discovered by Absalom Lehman when a wood rat stole his sandwich and disappeared into the cave system.  Absalom began leading tours and charging visitors fees to explore the cave.  Parts of the cave became damaged as visitors broke off pieces of the formations as souvenirs.  Today the park works to conserve and protect the cave system for future generations.

You can view our journey below:

If you plan to visit the cave system for yourself bring a jacket!  As you descend into the cave system the air gets damp and chilly, even if you are visiting in the summer months.  Do not wear gear you have used in other places where bats have been present or other cave systems.  Great Basin is working hard to prevent a very serious disease that impacts bats called White-nose Syndrome.  The caves can be difficult to navigate if you have mobility challenges.  They have installed lighting and handrails in most places but there are parts where you will need to stoop over or turn sideways to navigate and there are some narrow stairways as well.  I was able to bring Merlin, my service dog for mobility, but there were a couple places where we had to move through spaces single-file.

Exit Tunnel of Lehman Caves
Lehman Caves Exit Tunnel

Our trip through Lehman Caves, though dark and damp, was no where near as gloomy or dreadful as Frodo’s experience in the Mines of Moria.  Our tour was fantastic and I cannot wait to visit again!  If you cannot make it to Great Basin National Park, they do offer a virtual cave tour!  If you have visited Lehman Caves or another cave system, we would love to hear about your experience.  Leave a comment below.

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