Great Basin NP and Crystal Ball Cave, UT

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Christian

Member
Joined
Jun 2, 2012
Messages
155
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
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Other areas in the Lehman Caves v
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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
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Wheeler Peak Sunset Alpenglow over Teresa Lake v
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I woke up at dawn the next morning to catch the first light on the peak.v

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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

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

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A naturally split crystal ball v
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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.)
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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.

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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
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Tiny opening you have to swim under to access the secret "Fern Room" v
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The big fern room v
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Under water in the small fern room v
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The magical blue glow which refracts halfway back into the cave v (No PS)
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Camera Half above, half below the water v (No PS)
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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!)
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This is the mountain where the spring is, which goes to show what a true Oasis it really is!! v
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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

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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


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

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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!!

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Yvonne

I lava it!!!
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Joined
Jan 19, 2012
Messages
3,426
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
 

Bob

Trailmaster
Joined
Mar 3, 2013
Messages
2,413
Nice pics........last I was there was before it became a NP. Leman Caves is a favorite for me.
 

Laura

freespirittraveler
Joined
Oct 1, 2012
Messages
957
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.
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
444
Crystal caves was on my list to go to this last year but never got around to it. .. I'm on for sure now
 

TannerT

Hike Hard, Tread Lightly
Joined
May 15, 2013
Messages
589
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!
 

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nonameiwant

Member
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Jan 25, 2012
Messages
151
Wow thanks. I've been trying to think of another trip to possibly take this year and this just might have to be it.
 

Nick

Spiral out.
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Joined
Aug 9, 2007
Messages
12,816
I absolutely love your trip reports man. Great, great stuff. Keep 'em coming! :D
 

Artemus

I walk
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Joined
Jun 25, 2012
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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...
 

Nick

Spiral out.
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Joined
Aug 9, 2007
Messages
12,816
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 .
 

Dave

Broadcaster, formerly "ashergrey"
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Joined
May 5, 2012
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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.
 

slc_dan

Desert Rat-Weekend Warrior
Joined
Jun 7, 2012
Messages
1,685
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.
 

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