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California Cavern

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California Cavern
9565 Cave City Road
Mountain RanchCA 95246
(209) 762-2837

Ages: 3 and up

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

Parking: Yes

Features: Picnic Area, Shop, Snack Stand, Restrooms, Family Friendly, Changing Table

California Cavern is California's first cave show! Discovered in 1849 and opened in 1850, Captain Taylor made it possible for daring settlers to visit the inside of the cave for just a pinch of gold. Today's visitors may see the etched names of hundreds in the Registry Hall, a large chamber with limestone walls and ceiling.

But the excitement doesn't stop there! Since more of the cavern has been explored and made safe for further walking, a variety of excursions are available for today's spelunkers.

The facility is open 365 days a year and features 

  • two Walk Tours (suitable for the entire family) Trail of Lights and Trail of Lakes. Which walk tour is available depends on the season. 
  • the Mammoth Cave Expedition  (2- to 3-hour long tour where all tight spaces and rooms are optional — 8 and up)
  • the Middle Earth Expedition (4-hour long tour including all the Mammoth Cave tour plus passage to the deeper portions of the cavern and a rafting trip across the underground Tom's Lake — 16 and up)

Don't let the fun end underground... Back on the Earth's surface, additional activities are available to increase the extreme fun factor:gemstone mining, geode cracking, nature trail, and more!

1 Reviews

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  • 5

Reviewed on 09/17/2012

I have never been so in awe of the Earth and science until my recent visit to California Cavern.
Our family had scheduled the Mammoth Cave Expedition at California Cavern, a 3-hour trip underground and into the depths of a naturally made cavern first discovered in 1849. After arriving, slipping into protective padding, coveralls, helmets and gloves, we followed our amazing guide (Christine — totally recommended as a guide for groups with kids) inside and down, down, down.
My kids, really and truly excited for the more extreme aspects of this trip, took to the climbing and sliding and army crawling through tight spaces and weird places without hesitating. I had my fears — including a thing I'd seen online called "The Womb Room", which features a crazy narrow limestone channel used for both entrance and exit — yet settled in for the experience.
We went through "The Pancake": a slim space between rock and muddy, slippery ground which opened up into a tunnel where visitors take a break and use the malleable clay ground to sculpt a little thing to leave behind on the "shelves" created by the walls of the tunnel. We plodded through “Dead Man's Pit”, covered in mud so thick that shoes can actually be pulled right off a person's foot. We saw "The Jungle Room" with masses of stalactites that create a vine-like structure and a few hollow rock pieces that can be thrummed to sound like a deep jungle drum. “The Bridal Chamber” is home to some of the largest flowstone formations in California Cavern, and contains several narrow passageways that lead to other chambers that are not traveled through during the expedition, but pointed out during the walk; where they end is quite remarkable.
This expedition was, simply put, awesome. The temperature within the cave is a steady 55 degrees, regardless of the weather on the surface, so even when warmed by crawling and climbing, it was never uncomfortable. Some parts of the cavern are lit with electricity for the walking tour, but our headlamps (also provided) were used often and gave a really exploratory feel to the trip.
Appropriate footwear is recommended, and the Cavern & Mine Adventures site has checklists to help prepare you for how best to dress for each of their expeditions, so I suggest you look over that in detail.
All of the squeezes and passageways were optional. Should any of us had truly been uncomfortable with the idea of something like "The Womb Room", it was perfectly okay to wait at the entrance. We did ALL make it past our initial fear and into "The Womb Room", I'm happy to report. And yes, I was the only one being kind of a baby about it!
This tour is available only during the dry season, so call directly to ask when it would be best to schedule the Mammoth Cave Expedition, which comes highly rated by my 9- and 13-year old girls. This is definitely a fun trip for those looking for some high adventure!

California Cavern