Great Basin NP and Crystal Ball Cave, UT


Jun 2, 2012
On Saturday my little brother and I headed down to Great Basin NP. Our first stop was the Lehman Caves. They are very impressive. If you go, get the 90 minute tour rather than the 30 or 60 minute tour. We got the 60 minute tour and it skipped a significant portion of the caves.

The first room in the Lehman caves v

Other areas in the Lehman Caves v

After that, we hiked to Stella and Teresa lakes up on Wheeler peak. Teresa is fed by a tranquil spring that flows through a picturesque grassy creek surrounded by Parry's Primrose. We missed the much anticipated Bristlecone grove due to the sun setting, so we headed back to the Wheeler peak campground under the light of the super moon.

Teresa Spring Moss and Parry's Primrose v

Wheeler Peak Sunset Alpenglow over Teresa Lake v

I woke up at dawn the next morning to catch the first light on the peak.v


After we broke camp we headed to Crystal Ball Cave in UT where we had a tour appointment. Jerald Bates, who discovered the caves and usually gives the tours, said he was getting too old to hike the trails up so his granddaughters did the tour instead. They knew a lot about the caves and were great tour guides. If you go, bring some money to tip your tour guide with, as they do this without asking a specific price. Crystal Ball is an amazing cave with the requisite stalactites and stalagmites but even more incredible are the sparkling, translucent crystals which grow on all the walls throughout the cave.

Driving down the poplar lane to the Bate's residence


Translucent Crystals v

The Cupcake Room and the crystal balls growing from the floor for which the cave is named. v


A naturally split crystal ball v

A horse Hoof from an ancient, miniature horse that existed before horses went extinct in the Americas v (They also have camelops bones, saber tooth tiger bones and more.)

After the tour we went around mountain to visit the springs. Unlike what I'd read online, the springs were crowded with about 15 various people who came and went and tossed beer cans on the shore and smoked up a storm.


Maybe the crowds are a result of people like me posting about places like this online. ;) Fortunately, the people who showed up didn't stay too long and none dared enter the AMAZING underwater cave that has maidenhair ferns and water trickles guarding the entrance. You can swim really far back into the cave and there is an underwater arch and an opening with water falling out from the depths of the earth. The ceiling of the cave is covered with travertine formations that drip and trickle out of all the spots on the ceiling. Some of the formations look like the slimy insides of a body or something. The light hitting the spring outside filters about halfway into the cave creating a magical blue glow.

Does it get more inviting than this cave entrance? v


Tiny opening you have to swim under to access the secret "Fern Room" v

The big fern room v

Under water in the small fern room v

The magical blue glow which refracts halfway back into the cave v (No PS)

Camera Half above, half below the water v (No PS)

All the way underneath, looks more like something you'd find in the ocean than the barren deserts of Utah v (No PS at all, that's how it really looks!)

This is the mountain where the spring is, which goes to show what a true Oasis it really is!! v

As we drove home, I stopped to shoot photos of Notch Peak, which is one of the highest vertical cliff faces in the U.S. v


The Great Basin area has it's own desolate charm, I especially liked the roadless, never-ending, golden flat lands that give way to solitary mountains with strangely cut rocky faces. v


As the sun set and we go closer to Delta, I shot Notch Peak from behind at sunset. v


We got back to SLC rather quickly, which makes Great Basin NP a prime repeat destination since it's closer to SLC than any other National Park! It was a GREAT 2 day trip!!

Featured image for home page:


  • IMG_9487.jpg
    723.7 KB · Views: 44
  • IMG_9632.jpg
    448.3 KB · Views: 44


I lava it!!!
Jan 19, 2012
Sweet!!! I'm heading to Great Basin NP in roughly a month and stay for a few days.
Your shots make me really excited for the upcoming trip.
Great shots of the Cave and Wheeler, I will bag it while there in the park. :)

Good to know about the Cave tour, so I will definitely get tickets for the 90 minutes tour


Mar 3, 2013
Nice pics........last I was there was before it became a NP. Leman Caves is a favorite for me.


Oct 1, 2012
Awesome! The blue pics are surreal, but my fave is the one of the cliffs with the diagonal lines. Very cool comp!

Howells Outdoors

Adventure is my middle name...actually it's Keith.
Sep 26, 2012
Crystal caves was on my list to go to this last year but never got around to it. .. I'm on for sure now


Hike Hard, Tread Lightly
May 15, 2013
Thanks for the pics and the story. My wife and I happened along there in 2010 after an 8 day Yosemite trek. It was the First Annual astronomy festival. I don't know how many private atsronomers were there but telescopes from the size of VW vans to binoculars. It was great. The hiking there is great as well. We've pledged to go back frequently to hike every trail mile and then to explore whatever else we can. The caves are like the cream of the milk, or icing on the cake for this little gem of a National Park.
Thanks again for the TR.

Salud, amigo!


Jan 25, 2012
Wow thanks. I've been trying to think of another trip to possibly take this year and this just might have to be it.


I walk
Jun 25, 2012
I sure love the sedimentary rock stratigraphy in picture xxx ! You know the one, with alpenglow lighting and located just above the text "The Great Basin area..." It really IS a great photo and a great example of layering and upthrust at work. Mother Nature at work but that is too anthropomorphic a term...


Aug 9, 2007
I sure love the sedimentary rock stratigraphy in picture xxx ! You know the one, with alpenglow lighting and located just above the text "The Great Basin area..." It really IS a great photo and a great example of layering and upthrust at work. Mother Nature at work but that is too anthropomorphic a term...

Totally agree! This one, right?

Such a great photo, I had a hard time deciding between this and the underwater green light cave shots for the home page. Great stuff @Christian .


Broadcaster, formerly "ashergrey"
May 5, 2012
This park has been calling to me for a couple of years now. Not sure how much longer I can resist. I'd really like to chain a GBNP trip with a visit to Topaz.


Desert Rat-Weekend Warrior
Jun 7, 2012
This park has been calling to me for a couple of years now. Not sure how much longer I can resist. I'd really like to chain a GBNP trip with a visit to Topaz.

Topaz is a very quick stop. There isn't much left, mostly just a few cement pads where the barracks used to be.
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
chandlerwest Great Basin National Park - Wheeler Peak Hiking & Camping 13
T Pumping the Great Basin on a Handcar General Discussion 14
Red Rock Rangers Great Basin National Park Hiking & Camping 10
ogg Backpacking Ruby Mtns or Great Basin NP Trip Planning 9
Bob Winchester found in Great Basin NP General Discussion 0
steve Backpacking Great Basin NP Backpacking 18
steve Backpacking Great Basin National Park - June 2014 Backpacking 11
Dave Great Basin NP, Aug. 31- Sept. 2 2013 Backpacking 8
Ericephoto Wheeler Peak, Great Basin National Park Everything Else 7
Nick Great Basin National Park Trip Planning 7
J Great to be here! Heading to White Pocket next month... Noobs: Introduce yourself! 8
Shrubs Thanks for the great reports! Noobs: Introduce yourself! 12
misSOULa The Great Burn Wilderness: Heart Lake Backpacking 3
Perry Great Packraft Deal Gear 2
scatman Little Cataloochee Trail, Great Smokey Mountains National Park - June 3, 2018 Hiking & Camping 13
scatman Lynn Camp Prong Lollipop Loop, Great Smokey Mountains National Park - May 29, 2018 Hiking & Camping 2
Dreamer Summer 2012: trip 1: a short visit to a small corner of The Great Wasted Forest of Northern Colorado Backpacking 11
Perry Great Deal on Gregory Baltoro Gear 0
Perry Great Deal on Sunto MC2 Compass Gear 0
Wanderlust073 Dayhiking Great Sand Dunes NP Hiking & Camping 4
slc_dan Great Smokey Mountains NP Trip Planning 12
wsp_scott Clingman's Dome (Great Smoky Mountains NP) Backpacking 0
Nick Desha & Great Bend On The Water 7
TrektheWorld Need to find one great Uintas hike Trip Planning 1
WasatchWill Memorial Day: Another great trip to Torrey Hiking & Camping 11
scatman The Anthony Creek, Russell Field Trails Loop - Great Smoky Mountain National Park, June 10, 2016 Hiking & Camping 13
scatman Gold Mine Loop Trail / Noland Trail - Great Smoky Mountain National Park, June 7, 2016 Hiking & Camping 3
hatchcanyon The Great Traverse Off Road 9
danger02ward Very much enjoy and appreciate all of your great pictures, trip reports, and gear reviews! Noobs: Introduce yourself! 4
dfcooper Great Divide Trail Trip Planning 1
Vegan.Hiker Great Range Traverse Part 1 Backpacking 19
Dustin Gent great first trek in Utah? Trip Planning 16
Vegan.Hiker Great article about a fellow adventure seeker General Discussion 4
Bob Great Western Trail - Canada Resource Discussions 0
LarryBoy Utah is great, isn't it? Noobs: Introduce yourself! 6
Lisa Came for some trip beta, stayed for the great community... Noobs: Introduce yourself! 1
mattvogt7 A Great Weekend in July On The Water 10
Jeremy C The Great Bear Photographer General Discussion 5
BJett Lower Big Creek - Great Smoky Mountains National Park On The Water 2
Dave Kayaking the Great Salt Lake, June 1 2013 On The Water 10
Nick Great Salt Lake 5/9/13 Everything Else 6
Cody Great Western Trail through Utah Backpacking 41
Nick Great places to live for outdoors lovers General Discussion 51
Nick Last of The Great Unknown now on iTunes General Discussion 0
Ranger Joe 9: The Great Colorado Expedition of 2012, pt9...Epilogue Off Road 4
Ranger Joe 8: The Great Colorado Expedition of 2012, pt8...Mosquito Pass and Webster Pass Off Road 0
Ranger Joe 7: The Great Colorado Expedition of 2012, pt7...hitting the slopes near Aspen Off Road 0
Ranger Joe 6: The Great Colorado Expedition of 2012, pt6...on to Schofield Pass Off Road 0
Ranger Joe 5: The Great Colorado Expedition of 2012, pt5...Yankee Boy and Governor Basins Off Road 0
Ranger Joe 4: The Great Colorado Expedition of 2012, pt4...Poughkeepsie Gulch Off Road 0

Similar threads

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.