The Incredible Caverns In Northern California That Are Only Accessible By Boat
This unique spot is one of newest national natural landmarks in Northern California, and the only way to see it is to take a short boat ride across Lake Shasta. The Lake Shasta Caverns National Natural Landmark was preserved in 2012, but the caverns themselves are at least 200 million years old.
Everyone in Northern California is familiar with Lake Shasta, but fewer of us have ever been out on a boat here, let alone visited the unique and interesting Shasta Caverns.
Eons ago, the caverns were formed by underground water that has since drained away. They are made entirely of limestone.
The caves feature a wide variety of formations, including stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, columns, and flowstone.
The caverns were part of life for the Wintu Indians, who lived in the area. The first documented white explorer was James A. Richardson. He "discovered" the caverns on November 11, 1878 by shimmying through a narrow hole. He documented his discovery on the cave wall with a carbide from his miner's lamp. You can still see this in the caverns to this day.
Originally, the caves were completely sealed off except for the narrow tunnel Richardson discovered. Only a handful of hardy spelunkers inched their way through steep, restricted natural fissures to view its startling formations. To make them more accessible to the public, workers blasted a tunnel from a rock face deep into the mountain in the mid 1900s.
The new exposure made the Lake Shasta Caverns accessible to the everyday explorer. In 1955, a woman named Grace M. Tucker visited the caves and became a champion for their preservation. She acquired the property and formed Lake Shasta Properties, Inc. In 2012, the site was named a National Natural Landmark.
Today, thousands of visitors every year board boats like these for a short drive across the lake to tour the caverns, which are then accessed via a private road.
The boat ride is fun and accessible. It's a great reason to get out on the water.
Visitors then funnel to the caverns, which feature an extensive amount of walking.
The tour is not recommended for those with mobility concerns, but there is a half way mark where those who would rather not take the 600 steps into the deeper caverns can turn back. If you chose this option, they will play a narrated video of the same experience in the video center.
The pathway is about as wide as a hallway, so you won't need to crawl or climb anything other than stairs. You can, however, choose to just purchase a ticket for the boat ride and visitors center if caves aren't really your thing.
The whole adventure, including the a 10-minute boat ride across the McCloud arm of the Shasta Lake, a 10-minute bus ride up to the cavern's entrance, and a 45- to 60-minute guided tour in the caverns, usually takes about 2 hours.
There are a ton of amazing features and things to check out here, however. A tour of the Lake Shasta Caverns National Natural Landmark is an experience like nothing else!
This video by Youtube User
Pavlo Svider gives you a great feel for what an adventure here is like:
Would you go spelunking in these creepy but fascinating caves? How about go for a boat ride on Lake Shasta? For more wild and crazy adventures in Northern California, take a quick peek at
This Northern California Hike Leads To The Most Awe-Inspiring Lookout.
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