The Best List of Caves in California

The Best List of Caves in California

We may have been compensated for this post. Please keep in mind that it affects you in no way financially. If an item is being reviewed, we are not obligated to give a positive review and always use our own words. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. If you would like a review done contact Dannelle at

Sharing is caring!

California is known for its natural beauty, which stretches to its borders and covers the entire state. It is one of the places where beauty above the ground competes well with the beauty that lies below the ground. A quick look at this observation would compel any reader to ask, “are there any caves in California?”

The Best List of Caves in California

Yes, California has a series of interconnected caverns, and the state claims to have the most extensive system of passageways and caverns. If you want to experience caving for the first time then California is the perfect place to start your spelunking journey.

The Best List of Caves in California

Each of the caves will intrigue you and gives you a great introduction to the world below your feet. 

The Top Caves to Visit in California

If you love hiking in the dark or enjoy adventuring in tight spots, then the caves in California would be your favorite place on earth. You will be impressed with the rock formations and lava tubes and enjoy exploring the gems underneath. You should come dressed in light clothing and carry 2 to 3 flashlights, bottled water and be in a pair of comfortable shoes.

Top Caves in California

The most popular caves in the state are – 

There are many other cave options in the state apart from the ones mentioned above. However, these caves are some of the most famous ones, and people tend to come here repeatedly.

USA Cave list

Let’s break this down a bit……

Best Caves in California

The following caves should be on the top of your sightseeing list. 

Hiking Caves in California

There are a few caves in the state which can be reached only when you are on a hiking trail.  

Cave of Munits

Located within El Escoprion Park, the cave has an exciting history. As per local accounts, the cave was used as a home by a shaman who murdered the son of a politically significant chief, thereby bringing his downfall. It is a mysterious natural landmark, no doubt, and one must hike along the El Escorpion Trail till you reach the chimney cave.

link to article on white nose disease in bats
Learn about White Nose Disease and what you can do to help!

There are cracks all around and a large main hall. If adventurous enough, you can climb up the chimney and continue your trail to arrive at a huge rock pile. From here you can enjoy the glorious views of the surroundings. 

The Balconies Cave & Bear Gulch Cave

What strikes me most about these caves is that they were not built by mud or volcanic forces. They are the finest examples of talus caves and are suitable for people who have never explored a cave before. The various passages present in the caves and the rock-climbing routes offer good opportunities for experienced cavers. 

Hiking Caves in California

Lava Caves in California

The state has an excellent collection of caves formed by lava, and they attract tens of thousands of visitors every year. 

Lava Beds National Monument

Lava Beds National Monument is in a remote California location, but it has over 700 lava tube caves. However, only 20 of these most developed caves can be explored by people of all skills levels. The guided tours are available, which will help you learn more about these cave systems, and all the guests are encouraged to speak to the staff at the visitor center. Most of the lava tubes here are easy to explore, but Labyrinth and Lava Brook are challenging ones and do involve a fair amount of crawling. 

Subway Cave

It can be found in the Lassen National Forest and not too far from the Lava Beds National Monument. Subway Cave is a large and open lava tube, and it extends for 1/3rd of a mile. The floor is quite bumpy, but you will encounter some exciting rock formations making it a must-visit lava tube cave in California. In the summer, guided tours are available and will help you understand this place’s history.  

Lava Caves in California

Moaning Caves in California

What is a moaning cave? A cave is attributed to the sound that people used to hear coming from them. Pretty simple, huh?

Moaning Caverns, Vallecito

The Moaning Caverns, the largest public cavern in California, was discovered by miners in 1851. It is so huge that it can accommodate the entire Statue of Liberty. The Moaning Caverns were so named as people used to hear spooky sounds coming from the cave entrance.

There are two platforms in the main chamber, and visitors can take the stairwell to get down to the high of the two platforms, 65 ft underground. You can then use the ten-story spiral staircase to get down to the second platform at the base of the chamber. Once you are here, you will see stalagmites around 14 ft long and impressive flowstone formations.

A special spelunking tour is carried out here that that you to the deepest burrows of the cave. There are no lights in the passages; you must make your way through crawling or lowering yourself through the narrow passageways with a rope. The guides are highly trained and will help you at every step. There is a gift shop here from where you can choose treasures to take home with you, such as minerals and rocks from around the world. 

Moaning Caves in California

Mining Caves in California

Big Horn Caving Mine

Although it has been named a cave, it is less of a cave and more like a gold mine. The cave is located near Mount Baden-Powell, and it goes a reasonable distance into the mountain. It features the remnants of the mining operation that took place outside. 

Sea Caves in California

There are quite a few naturally created sea caves in California, and each cave is a little different from the other one. Most of these caves are not so deep that you would require a headlamp, but you can bring your phone for photos and use the flashlight, if necessary. 

Mining Caves in California

Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego

The cave is a bit hidden and looks mysterious but is worth every effort. When you reach the Cabrillo National Monument, you need to walk along the edge of the cliff to reach the quite intimidating cave. But the path is wide enough for one person at a time to walk on. In the end, you will come to a beautiful cave opening. However, getting into the bottom of the cave is possible during low tide only, but it can be dangerous even at that time. 

Crystal Cove Sea Cave

One will come across this cave in the beautiful Crystal Cove Sea State Park, but it is accessible only during the low tide. There are many tide pools near this cave which gets exposed during low tide too. 

Sunny Jim Cave, La Jolla

It is the largest sea cave in La Jolla and one of the easiest to spot. One can easily find this cave as it is surrounded by The Cave Store, which charges a small fee for admission. But this cave is ideal for beginners or those afraid of dark places as the path is well-lit, paved, and entirely safe. It is possible to walk the La Jolla shores during low tide to get to the La Jolla Caves Beach, a spot well known for its caves. 

Beach Caves in California

Beach Caves in California

Leo Carrillo State Beach, Malibu

The Leo Carrillo State Park is a beautiful area full of tiny sea caves and rock arches. These caves are fun to explore and safe too. The caves are in a rocky point with a lifeguard tower that separates South Beach and North Beach. The caves are fully visible during low tide. 

Thousand Steps Beach Cave, Laguna Beach

The cave on Laguna Beach is the most impressive beach cave that you will ever come across. It is the Southern end of Thousand Steps Beach, a beautiful sandy beach but accessible only after you go down a long set of stairs. On the North end of the beach, there is a rock arch leading to a hidden beach on the other side. When you come here during low tide, you will be able to see both the features. 

Dana Sea Caves, Dana Point

Like all other caves, the Dana Sea caves are best viewed in low tide. One can start at the Dana Point Headlands Beach and walk around but keep the eyes open for a small slot in the rocks. It is the back door of the cave, which has a large opening but is lower in the water. However, the path to get to this rock is rocky and a bit unstable; so, one should come equipped with a good pair of shoes. 

Salt Caves in California

Salt Caves in California

Have you tried halotherapy yet? Although it sounds weird, it is very relaxing. 

SALTS, Granite Bay

SALTS is a medical spa that specializes in halotherapy. If you are in desperate need of rejuvenation, then you must come down to this place. The center boasts a cozy and sophisticated atmosphere. The salt rooms are filled with salts covering the ground, and there is a halogenerator that disperses salt into the air.

When you inhale, the salt particles immediately absorb the allergens and toxins in the lungs. Salt therapy is highly beneficial for people who suffer from asthma, allergies, or bronchitis. 

Salt Oasis, Rancho Cucamonga

Salt Oasis looks like a traditional spa from the outside, but it is anything but ordinary when you step inside. As soon as you step in, you will know that you are in for a world-class rejuvenating experience. The most noteworthy feature is the purity of the air and the warm lighting that perfectly suits your mood.

There is also soothing music that is continuously played, and you will also hear the sound of a steady waterfall. You need to grab a chair, sink in and let the salt particles start their healing process. The salt will completely detoxify your body and make your breathing easier. 

Salt caves in California

Underwater Caves in California

California Caverns

Hidden in the foothills of Sierra Nevada, the California Caverns was the first cave that was open to the public in the 1850s. There is an elaborate network of tunnels and crystalline chambers present at 80 ft below the earth’s surface. The network stretches for 2 ½ miles making it the most comprehensive cave system in the state.

In the caverns, the temperature remains at a constant 53.8 degrees F throughout the year. So, when you come here on a hot summer day, the cave climate will feel like heaven to you. The most striking feature of the California Cavern is the underground lakes. These pools of water seem to be completely dark, but when you shine a light at them, it becomes crystal clear. 

The Best List of Caves in California

As you can tell, the state of California has a lot of caves to explore. Make certain to always be safe and prepared before entering any cave so you can make your cave experience a good one!

Other articles you may find helpful or interesting:


4 thoughts on “The Best List of Caves in California

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *