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Ultimate Guide to Boyden Cavern, California (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)

Ultimate Guide to Boyden Cavern, California (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)

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Boyden Cavern is a showy cave in the Giant Sequoia National Monument along the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway in Fresno County, CA. Daily tours are offered at the cavern and, on-site, there is an international gift shop and picnic tables. Many tourists unfairly compare this to the Crystal Cave, but Boyden Cavern has a beauty of its own, and the history associated with Boyden Cavern is far more interesting. 

Ultimate Guide to Boyden Cavern, California (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)

The cave is a perfect example of a solutional cave that was formed in metamorphosed limestone. It houses a vast variety of natural speleothems, including the beautiful ‘shield’ formations. It is not renowned for being a bat cave, but one can spot a few caves sleeping blissfully inside the cavern during summer. 

How Big is Boyden Cavern?


The Boyden Cavern, which is in Kings Canyon, lies beneath the King’s Gates’s huge 2000 ft marble walls. The main passageway has a length of 1000 ft, but visitors are allowed to explore 2/3rd of the length. 

History of Boyden Cavern

Boyden Cavern is a great example of Karst Cave, but it was originally outside the boundaries of NPS or the National Park System.

Putnam Boyden discovered it in the late 1800s. Boyden was the first to find and claim the cave and the first human resident of the cave. The cave had several favorable conditions, and all these convinced Boyden to live in the cave along with his friend Denver Church.

Both the men lived in the cave for many years, but Boyden contracted hypothermia and breathed his last in the cave.

Soon after, the government took control of the cave in 1893 and it was eventually made a part of the National Park System.

In the 1930s, the Civil Conservation Core built several bridges and ramps in the cave to become accessible to visitors to the park. Sadly, some of the formations got destroyed by this developmental work. The only positive from this is that those bridges and ramps are still used by visitors today. 

geological formations at boyden

Geological Cave Formations in Boyden Cavern

Boyden Cavern is bound to impress every visitor with its magnificent collection of stalactites, stalagmites, and other rock formations with thousands of years of geologic history attached to it. There are some popular formations, and various nicknames have been assigned to them as per their shapes, such as pancakes and the group of stalactites called Upside Down City.

If you look closely, you will find a group of stalactites that look like a collection of skyscrapers hanging from the rock. The Drapery Room is the most impressive as the stalactites resemble hanging curtain drapes. Since it is a living cave, touching any of the formations is strictly prohibited. 

Wildlife in Boyden Cavern 

We know that caves form a natural habitat for bats, but they are not really common in the Boyden Cavern. They do, however, frequent other caves in the vicinity. People have also reported seeing lots of small insects and animals that are usually found near all caves. 

Download our FREE Boyden Cavern Guide (Unofficial)    

Is Boyden Cavern Haunted?

The cavern is open to tourists every year, and there has never been any complaint of the cavern or its immediate surroundings being haunted.  

Boyden Cavern Tours

The tours at the Boyden Cavern are fully compliant with COVID guidelines. The tours last for around 60 min (round trip), but departure timings are based on the availability in the season. The Walking Tour starts with a short but steep uphill walk along the paved trail to the cave’s entrance. The trail begins from a gift shop shack. It is a beautiful climb, and the journey is fantastic with the sound of the roaring river as the background sound. 

People tend to compare this cave with the more popular Crystal Cave, but this cavern is undoubtedly less touristy than its ‘competitor’. The main passageway is 1000 ft long, but only about 750 ft is open for public tours. You can explore the remaining 250 ft, but it would require a lot of crawling and scrambling.

If you love adventure, you can surely try them.

The visitors are led through paved paths, which are well-it and have handrails. On the way, you would be able to see a wide array of natural formations. The sheer collection of stalactites and stalagmites are bound to impress all. You cannot touch the formations as this is a living cave, and the chemicals from our bodies can make them stop growing.

There is a Bat Grotto in the cave, but it is improbable that you will spot any bats as they rarely visit this cave. 

It is one of the best caves in California to take pictures, but the truly magical moment would come when the guide turns off all lights so that the visitors can experience total darkness. It might feel a bit weird in those ten-odd seconds of complete darkness, but the experience is unforgettable.

It is a perfect way to understand how Mr. Boyden would have felt when his lantern went out! When the tour nears the end after 45 min, the guide will invite the visitors for an adventure trail that is challenging and will entail some squeezing and climbing. So, if you are okay with it, you can take this trail to make your trip memorable.

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Learn about White Nose Disease and what you can do to help!

Boyden Cavern Tour Prices and Discounts

The tickets are sold on the cavern site and not at, as many people presume, Kings Canyon Visitor’s Center. The cost of the tickets are as follows – 

  • Adults – USD 14.95         
  • Children (3 to 12 years) – USD 7.95

Reservations for the walking tours are not mandatory unless you are part of a group of 15 people or more. 

Boyden Cavern Map

Boyden Cavern Map

What to Wear?

The cave has a consistent temperature of around 55 to 57 degrees F. The cave remains warm in the cold Sierra winters and seems cool on the hot summer days. 

Since the temperature is steady, dress accordingly. You can bring a light jacket if you tend to feel the chill quickly and wear a good pair of hiking shoes.  

Boyden Cavern Hours

The cavern is open from April to Mid-November and its operating hours are likely from 10:00 am to 4:00 in the evening. The cave remains closed on Wednesdays. 

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What to Do at Boyden Cavern (Beside Tours)

The walking tour can be strenuous for many people. We suggest that you make your way to the parking lot next to the south fork of the King’s River. It is a great place to stretch your tired legs or enjoy a picnic lunch along the edge of Kings Canyon.

The on-site gift shop sells drinks, snacks, and souvenirs. 

Best Time to Visit Boyden Cavern 

The cave is open from April to the middle of November. So, you must plan your trip accordingly. 

how to get to Boyden

How to Get to Boyden Cavern 

The cave is located off Highway 180, which is also known as the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway. It is close to Convict Flat and right next to a bridge on the South Fork of the Kings River.

The directions may seem vague at first look, but it is impossible to miss the cave as it is well marked. Since the cave is in a remote park area, you may have to drive a little to get into the area. If you are keen to get detailed driving directions, you can also always write an email to info@boydencavern.com 

Hotels near Boyden Cavern

There are reasonably priced accommodation options near Boyden Cave. Some of the more popular ones are:

John Muir Lodge

This is close to both parks and has decent food. Each room has a fridge but the only microwave is in the lobby. Bonus – it is dog-friendly!

Cedar Grove Lodge

A little rustic, but a great setting for getting immersed into nature. Friendly staff and a nice gift shop.

Visiting Boyden Cavern

Do you need more information before visiting Boyden Cavern? Call +1-888-965-8243 or shoot an email to info@boydencavern.com for an information packet. 

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