Crystal Ball and Lehman Caves: Hidden Gems in the American Southwest
While you’re planning your adventure through the American Southwest, don’t forget to add Great Basin National Park to your list. If you are searching for hidden gems and roads less traveled by while you’re in the area of Great Basin, you’ll want to make sure you plan a trip to Millard County, Utah!
Being the 13th largest state in the nation, Utah is neighbored by Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, and Nevada. It contains 29 counties, and each of those counties contains a piece of a national forest. Incredible, right? There is so much to see and do in Utah alone, and we haven’t even started talking about Nevada & Great Basin National Park yet!
Millard County, Utah will be the center of your Great Basin adventure. Being just a short drive east of Great Basin National Park, just around 60 miles, or about an hour, Millard County is home to two important cities to consider adding to your itinerary: Delta, and Fillmore.
The county seat, Fillmore, is the former capital of the state of Utah, before it was moved to Salt Lake City. Here, you can tour the Territorial Statehouse, which once served as a jail, a school, and a dance hall, each at separate times, but is now a museum.
Delta, being the closer of the two cities to Great Basin National Park, is located right off of highways 50 and 6. It is also a great stopping point if you’re visiting two other geological marvels which we’ll discuss shortly: The Lehman Caves & Crystal Ball Cave. Here you can explore the Great Basin or Topaz Museums or dig for fossils in the Trilobite Quarry.
Hosting a range of activities from snowboarding, and swimming, to hiking and rock climbing, Utah boasts an incredible expanse of geological variety, as well as a rich history – the possibilities are endless; but let’s talk about two specific adventures you don’t want to miss out on: The Lehman Caves & Crystal Ball Cave.
Crystal Ball Cave
Just an hour North of Lehman Caves and Great Basin National Park lies Crystal Ball Cave in Gandy, Utah. Resting on the eastern side of the Nevada-Utah state line, this cave is a sight you won’t want to miss!
If you’re traveling from Delta, UT the drive is just over two hours, but believe us – the road trip is half the fun! You’ll experience a geography like no other as you drive through Utah’s western half.
Discovered in 1956 by George Simms, The Crystal Ball Cave is made up of natural limestone and has been described as a ‘geode that you can walk through’ because the walls, floors, and ceilings are covered entirely in crystal!
Now under the control of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Crystal Ball Cave is run and overseen by Jerald and Marlene Bates. They are volunteer stewards of the cave. The Bates family runs a working ranch and takes time out of their day to offer tours of the caves Monday-Saturday (none on Sunday). Make a reservation before you’re in town because they don’t accept walk-ins!
They also host tent camping in their apple orchard or a cozy stay in one of the cabins located on The Bates Family Ranch. You’ll want to spend some time in this beautiful area, so we highly recommend a stay!
If you’re looking for fun things to do when you visit Great Basin National Park, you need to check out the Lehman Caves. You’ll also be within an hour’s drive of one of Utah’s underrated adventures: the Crystal Ball Cave. The rich history behind these two caves will leave you awestruck, and their expansive systems will be worth the drive!
The Lehman Caves may only be entered by a ranger-led tour. These tours are offered daily, year-round with the exception of Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Contrary to the Crystal Ball Cave, Lehman Cave Tour tickets can be purchased the same day, but these tours also regularly sell out, so reservations are highly recommended.
*Note: tour fees are not the same as entrance fees and are not covered by the Annual Pass. *
Lehman Caves can be toured in 60-minute, or 90-minute tours that each explore different parts of the elaborate cave system. New this year is also a 30-minute tour, perfect for families with young children, that explores ¼-mile of the cave system.
Book your tour at Lehman and Crystal Ball Caves!
Whether you’re looking for an indoor adventure or ready to go offroad through endless scenery, there is plenty to do when visiting this gorgeous piece of western Utah!
Now that you have a couple more stops to add to your itinerary, it’s time to book your stay in one of the Bates Family Ranch Cabins, book a tour of the Crystal Ball Cave, and get to exploring the all the natural wonders that the beautiful state of Utah contains!
Or plan your next adventure through Great Basin National Park and add the Lehman Caves to your list! These tours will only take about half your day, meaning you’ll still have plenty of time to explore and experience the incredible landscape of the area as well.
The Crystal Ball and Lehman Caves are waiting for you!