11 Underground Adventures In Northern California You Never Knew You Could Have
Calling all non-claustrophobic Northern Californians! There are a ton of underground activities in this region that vary from hard core spelunking to a mellow underground wine tour. Interested in learning more about what you can do underground in Northern California? Read on!
1. Subway Cave & Lava Tubes, Lassen National Forest
This quarter mile hike through hollowed out lava tubes is just downright incredible. Bring a jacket and sturdy boots; it's chilly, damp, and muddy down there.
2. Donner Lake Train Tunnels, Truckee
These man-made tunnels were once how the train made its way over the Sierra crest, but they were abandoned years ago when a new route was made. Hikers can now walk through the mountain tunnels. They are one of the coolest places to explore and when ice forms in the tunnels, its beautiful.
3. Old Sacramento Underground Tours, Sacramento
Old Sac was built up and the first story of the city was abandoned when the river flooded back in the day, and most people have no idea that there is a hidden layer to the city. You can tour the underground abandoned level with a guide dressed to the nines in period wear, and you will love learning about the history of our state's capital.
4. Van Damme State Park, Mendocino
What could possibly be cooler than kayaking through these sea caves? Book your guided adventure through Kayak Mendocino, where a expert will safely navigate you through this water and make sure you are outfitted with all the proper equipment.
5. Buena Vista Winery Cellars, Sonoma
If your idea of an adventure is sipping wine in a historic old winery and escaping the heat, then this experience is definitely more your style. Take the winery's barrel tour and walk through the caves of Buena Vista. You can sample wines straight from the barrels. If you're lucky, your guide may even play you a tune on the piano.
6. Moaning Cavern Adventure Park, Vacellito
If you are ready to take cave exploration to the next level, then head on over to this crazy cool cavern where you will learn how to rappel into tiny crevasses. It's quite the adrenaline rush, but they let you go as slow as you would like. There's also another entrance where you can walk down a staircase instead, if that's more your speed.
7. Lava Beds National Monument, Tulelake
There's an amazing history at this national monument that is both cultural and geological. Walk through hollow lava tubes shaped eons ago and learn about the small band of Modoc Native Americans who held out against the U.S. Army here. You can explore mellow caves on your own or the more extreme ones with a guide.
8. Empire Mine State Historic Park, Grass Valley
This was one of the most successful gold mines of the 1800s. Learn about gold rush history or simply take in the interesting characteristics of these old tunnels. The grounds above are lovely and a popular place for weddings and picnics, as well.
9. Lake Shasta Caverns, Lakehead
This amazing day trip starts with a boat ride to the caverns (the only way the public is allowed to access them) and continues with a guided walking tour of the caves. The staff is informative and friendly.
10. Hangtown Gold Bug Park, Placerville
You can listen to the audio tour as you walk through this small but historic mine. Another option is to stop in at the gift shop and see if a docent can take you on a tour themselves. It's a great place for good old family fun, especially if you have any 4th graders in your family studying Gold Rush history.
11. Pluto's Cave, Montague
This is a remarkable cave in the pristine wilderness north of Mount Shasta and east of the town of Weed. It requires no technical expertise but you will need a flashlight before venturing in.
Would you go underground in one of these below-the-surface locations? If so, which one would you choose? If you would rather adventure above the surface, how about trying out this experience?
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