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Black Chasm Cavern

  • 5

(2 reviews)
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Black Chasm Cavern
1501 Pioneer Volcano Road
VolcanoCA 95689
(209) 736-2708

Ages: 3 and up

Cost: $14.75 adult | $7.50 child ages 3-12

Parking: Yes - dirt lot

Features: Picnic Area, Outside Food Allowed, Shop, Restrooms, Family Friendly, Changing Table

Black Chasm Cavern, located in the Sierra Nevada foothills town of Volcano, is a National Natural Landmark. This cavern is one of only 5% of caves in the world feature rare helictite crystal formations.

The Walk Tour takes only 50 minutes and any visitor over the age of three will likely be awe-inspired by the formations. Babies may be carried in a front pack but not a backpack for safety reasons. This is a wonderful place to visit when the Central Valley gets hot, since it's 58˚F in the cavern all year long!

An amazing 3-hour Labyrinth Tour ($79 per person) is also available. This is an outdoor, physically challenging tour of the rock outcroppings near the cavern. 

The Visitor Center offers beverages and snacks, as well as many souvenirs for purchase. Visitors may buy bags of gemstones to mine through in the sluice boxes just outside the center, which is a fun way to start a rock collection. Ask for a free map of the Zen Garden Hike inside the Visitor Center.


Both Black Chasm Cavern and Moaning Cavern offer birthday party packages. Discounts are available when more than 5 party-goers are participating in any given activity. Party reservations must be made at least two weeks in advance.


Pair this with a trip to nearby Indian Grinding Rock for a daytrip.

2 Reviews

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  • 5

Reviewed on 09/17/2012

Our family recently visited Black Chasm Cavern for an outdoor excursion adventure: the Labyrinth Tour.
This trip is meant to be a 3-hour rock climbing and hiking adventure, but we were having so much fun, even our tour guide lost track of time and our 3-hour trip became an almost-5-hour trip!
Only children 8 years of age or older are allowed to participate in the Labyrinth Tour, so our youngest had to remain at home. I kept thinking, "What a shame! He'd eat this up!", but what I realized is that there are some pretty tricky rocks and crevasses to scale up and some even trickier to scale down, so even if he were able, he may not be entire safe during the trek. (Besides that, I'd probably be sick with worry and unable to enjoy my own experience!)
My own favorite parts of the excursion were the ones that pushed me a little beyond my comfort zone: tight crevasses I had to squeeze and rotate through; walls I had to climb at a perpendicular; hills I had to slide down at considerable speed. The Log Foot Bridge we crossed in the very beginning was a little daunting, but when returning and crossing it a second time, our hesitancy was gone. “The Marble Corridor” was just as beautiful as it sounds, and “Presidential Arch” was quite remarkable. “Oh Chute!” is named such because you will, indeed, be calling its name as you slide on down. The Labyrinth Tour was no walk in the park, but man, did it feel good to be active and in a sort of 'x-games' kind of way!
The day was a long one, and it was warm. By the time we returned to the gift shop (which was where we began), the temperature was peaking at about 94. Thankfully, the two guides accompanying us were carrying large bottles of water for everyone in the group, as well as a small snack, so we weren't without ways to re-energize.
To prepare for this adventure, invest in knee and elbow pads (volleyball kind, not rollerblading sorts), unless bruises are badges of honor! Sturdy pants like jeans or canvas cargos are suggested, as are long sleeves, because the areas you’ll travel are, of course, outdoors and in rugged terrain; covering skin helps keep things like poison oak and ticks off.
This Labyrinth Tour was fun but also provided our family with a true bonding experience. Our older children were good sports, taking everything in stride and were more daring than I anticipated. What they may have enjoyed most was watching their parents learn to take a breath, relax, and go for the challenge that lay ahead.
Wet weather will cancel any Labyrinth Tour plans, and warm summer months may not be the most comfortable times to spend time outside, being extremely active.

Black Chasm Cavern


  • 5

Reviewed on 01/18/2012

This is not a long tour, nor does it delve deep into the corners of the cavern, but nevertheless Black Chasm Cavern is an awesome place to see.
Upon arriving, visitors are directed to the Visitor Center where tickets for the tours may be purchased. We were there with youngsters, so the Walk Tour was our chosen ticket. The Visitor Center serves as base: it's a souvenir shop, snack shop, information hub. Between the books, rocks, geodes, and tchotchke, there are a million ways to spend a few bucks, but beyond this hurdle lies the destination: a few flights' descent into the bowels of the earth.
Compared to other cavern tours we've been on, Black Chasm takes relatively little effort to tour. The entry is low, but only those over 5-foot, 8-inches tall need to duck; the stair case is steep, but actually quite perfectly sized for kid-sized visitors. Excepting these two challenges, physically maneuvering through the cavern is no biggie.
The main chamber of the cavern is where the tour guide will bring visitors up to speed on how a cavern like this is formed, discovered, and protected. Formation basics are covered: stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, etc., but what makes this particular cavern special is that it holds rare helictites. Helictites only form in roughly 5% of caves and resemble shredded coconut or bean sprouts. Good thing Black Chasm is a National Natural Landmark, protected for generations of future visitors. Bring a camera: the walls are luminescent and lit in ways to enhance the cavern's natural beauty.
After touring the cavern, stop back in at the Visitor Center for a map of the Zen Garden Hike, which is a trail looping about the Center, showcasing the outcropping of rocks that had been mined and exploited prior to the cavern's discovery. (This is a long walk, and in high temperatures may not be suited for the elderly or youngest hikers.)
Outdoor tables surround the parking area, so there is plenty of space for picnicking.

Black Chasm Cavern