California Caves - Unseen worlds - hidden fascinations beneath the ground just waiting to be discovered…

What is it about California caves?
 
If you don't get claustrophobia… that anxiety that sets in when you get in tight and confined spaces, then caving is nature's final frontier.
 
A recreational sport, exploring caves, like scuba diving or rock climbing, is as adventurous as you want to make it.

There are family-friendly caves where you can stroll through on a paved path.
Kids and caves are an excellent combination, particularly on guided trips designed for children.

Caves tap into a child's natural curiosity and allow them to show off their crawling, climbing and squeezing-through-small-spaces skills.
 
Other caves  require you to crawl hundreds of feet  face down-in-the-dirt and rappel down bottomless shafts.

Depending on the cave, you may end up wading through waist-high water or scaling up rocky walls.
 
In Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park alone, more than 200 caves have been discovered.

Some of the areas include… the South Fork of the Kaweah, Mineral King, Paradise Ridge, Deep Canyon, Yucca Creek and Redwood Canyon.

If you're venturing out in any of those areas… just check with the Park’s rangers first.

Other California Caves to discover include…

  • Boyden Cavern
  • Black Chasm Caverns 
  • California Caverns 
  • Crystal Cave
  • Lake Shasta Caverns
  • Lava Beds National Monument
  • Mercer Caverns
  • Moaning Cave
  • Pinnacles National Monument
  • Subway Cave

So…Why Go Caving?

For enthusiasts… caving carries the lure of the unknown and the thrill of discovery.
 
Imagine… emerging into a large underground chamber filled with dangling stalactites and adorned with colorful, intricate calcite deposits.
 
Cave archeology is another exciting reason to go caving.
 
Some of the most famous archeological caving finds have been the remarkable prehistoric cave paintings.

Crystal Cave in Sequoia National ParkPhoto Courtesy of David Lui

If you enjoy the reward of spectacular formations, massive chambers and underground waterfalls and lakes, then caving is about exploring the unknown.

Then… of course… half the fun is getting back out.

Caving Safety and Tips

Caving, like other outdoor sports, can be a perfectly safe, family activity when cavers are educated, prepared and treat caving safety with the seriousness it deserves.
 
First of all, it's important to know the most common causes of caving accidents and injuries:

  • Getting lost in the cave
  • Running out of light
  • Hypothermia (dangerously low body temperature)
  • Flooding of passages
  • Slipping and falling
  • Falling rocks
  • Falling into crevices and pits

First of all, never go caving alone.
 
A small group of 4 to 6 is preferable to a large group with potential stragglers.
 
Find out everything you can about the cave you're going to explore. If there's a chance you'll get very wet, you'll want to bring a change of clothing.
 
These are just a few things to remember before heading out. So… be sure to find out what else you'll need by asking an expert or guide prior to starting your journey.

Let's Touch on some of the California Caves you'll enjoy…

Looking for a new adventure in the High Sierra?

The fascinating geology and history in the Gold Country's caverns and historic gold mines include...
 
Black Chasm Cavern – Near the towns of Volcano and Pine Grove in the Mother Lode -- is a favorite for families, Black Chasm Cavern tours will lead you deep below the surface on easy-to-navigate stairs and walkways into illuminated chambers filled with rare crystal formations, stalactites, stalagmites and other wonders.

California Cavern – are in the Sierra Nevada foothills, in Cave City, Calaveras County, California.

The California Cavern has been open to the public since 1850 and is a California Historic Landmark that offers a variety of ways to explore the world below the surface.

The series of interconnected caverns are one of the earliest officially recorded caves in the Mother Lode region of California.

Families with younger kids can see the amazing formations on guided walking tours, and older kids - 8 and up - craving more adventure can join in the Mammoth Cave Expedition, a tour that includes some crawl-ways and squeezes and provides a hardhat with a light.

Moaning Cavern Adventure Park – Near Gold Country mountain rentals in Murphys… Moaning Cavern Adventure Park has something for everyone.
 
The whole family can go down into the cave using the 165 stair steps on the walking tour. Teens and adults can rappel into the cave, and no climbing experience is required, then adventurers can continue to explore the deep on a three-hour guided adventure tour.
 
Lake Shasta Caverns - North of Redding along Interstate 5 about 13 miles... Lake Shasta Caverns adventure begins with a ride across the crystal blue waters of Shasta Lake on a 65 foot catamaran. You'll cross the McCloud arm of Shasta Lake.

You'll enjoy custom bus rides up the hill to the cavern entrance.

At the cavern entrance your expert guide will explain the history of the caverns, its discovery, and how limestone caverns are formed.

Boyden Cavern is located in California's Giant Sequoia National Monument, along the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway, and just west of Kings Canyon National Park.
 
Boyden Cave or Boyden Cavern is located in the deepest river cut canyon of the United States, the 8,200-foot deep Kings Canyon.
 
Regular tours of the cave are given by a licensed guide company from the last Friday in April to mid November.

Lava Beds National Monument is located in northeastern California, in Siskiyou and Modoc Counties.

Lava Beds National Monument has the largest concentration of lava tube caves in North America. 

There are numerous lava tube caves, with twenty-five having marked entrances and developed trails for public access and exploration.
 
One has electrical lighting, the others are illuminated by ceiling collapse portals or require flashlights.

So… there's some California Caves to see…

We've just touched on a few that are in Northern California.

So if you're someone who cannot wait to make your way underground.  Whether it's lava tubes… sea caves… limestone caves or whatever…

Northern California caves will provide you with plenty of exploration and adventure.

We recommend asking some of the locals to get suggestions of others in the area you're in.

Be safe! And… Have fun!


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