Ultimate Guide to Lake Shasta Caverns, California (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)
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The caverns in California are a testament to the rich geological history and diverse terrain of the state. The Lake Shasta Caverns, which was 250 million years in the making, are one of the most remarkable caves of the state, where you get to peek into a world that you have never seen or experienced before.
It attracts many visitors throughout the year for its natural formations like flowstone and calcite and tells you a lot about the history of Northern California.
Lake Shasta Caverns, California
The Lake Shasta Caverns was declared as a National Natural Landmark in May 2012. Although pathways and trails have been developed within the caves, a large portion of them remains untouched. It is the perfect place where the families can spend their weekends. No wonder many people have defined Lake Shasta Caverns as a suitable alternative to beach and hiking trips.
History of Lake Shasta Caverns
There is widespread speculation that the indigenous Wintu Native Americans knew of the caves much before the Shasta Dam was created in 1945. But, Mr. J.A. Richardson, a local fish hatchery employee, has been credited with the honor of officially discovering the Shasta Caverns in 1878. One can see legible writings on the walls of the cave, which have been done with the help of carbide from a miner’s lamp, thereby pointing out Richardson’s claim to the discovery of Lake Shasta Caverns.
The concept of preserving this natural phenomenon came to Grace M. Tucker, an attorney from Washington. In 1955 Tucker obtained the sole ownership of the caves, and the site was declared a National Natural Landmark in May 2012. Lake Shasta Caverns had indeed been 250 million years in the making, but they have been open to the public only recently.
Since the opening of the caverns in 1964, this magnificent natural wonder has managed to enthrall almost three million people. Inside the cave, it is a strenuous one-hour visit with as many as 600 stairs needed to access the different sections of the cave.
Geological Cave Formations in Lake Shasta Caverns
The underground world of Lake Shasta Caverns is millions of years old, and these beautiful limestone caverns have enough natural formations to satisfy any adventurer visiting these caverns. Once inside, you will get to witness impressive and mind-blowing stalactites, stalagmites, gravity-defying helictites, and glistening curtains of limestone that look beautiful from every angle. It is a whole new world out here as one will also come across Jurassic fossils, which are thousands of years old!
Wildlife in Lake Shasta Caverns
The visitors have a chance to see many animals in their natural habitat during a trip to the caverns. The pristine natural environment offers a perfect place for the animals to settle down. Some of the species you will come across include Mountain lions, Black Bears, deer, squirrels, and Bald eagles. There is a wide variety of reptiles here, such as Blue Belly Lizards, Gopher Snakes, and rattlesnakes.
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Is Lake Shasta Caverns Haunted?
Many people confuse Lake Shasta Caverns with Mount Shasta, but they are entirely different places. Although the latter has a history of paranormal sightings, Lake Shasta Caverns is a renowned tourist attraction visited by thousands every year. It does not have any account of ghostly sightings or activities.
How Big are Lake Shasta Caverns?
Located at around 900 ft above Shasta Lake, the Lake Shasta Caverns is spread over 37 acres.
Lake Shasta Cave Tours
The Lake Shasta Caverns start with the visitors exploring the lake, a popular destination for house boating. It is a catamaran ride, and the captain doubles up as your guide. He will tell you about the history, formation, and natural attractions of the Caverns and the surrounding regions. It is a great place to view the local wildlife such as bald eagles and mountain lions. It takes around 10 min to make the trip across the lake, giving you a fleeting glimpse of the 400 miles of shoreline that Lake Shasta offers.
The 2nd part of the journey starts on the road by bus. You will be heading towards the cave entrance, which is 850 ft above the lake. The best thing that you can do here is grab the window seat and enjoy the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountain ranges. You will also get a good view of the range of water activities taking place below.
Now comes the part of entering the caves. When you enter the 300 ft man-made tunnel, you will be transported to a subterranean wonderworld that gives you a completely different feel than the outside world. The cave enjoys a cool climate as it has a year-round temperature of 58 degrees F. As you go deep into the tunnel, the calcite crystal formations will come into view in a series of lighted rooms linked by crevices and tunnels. Some of the formations resemble an elephant and gnomes.
The main attraction is the Cathedral Room which boasts of a cathedral-like ceiling with long chutes lining one of the walls. On the high ledge, there are figures that closely resemble Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. After walking for about an hour inside the cave, you will have to descend around 200 stairs to the mouth of the cave to board the shuttle that will take you back to the boat.
Lake Shasta Caverns Tour Prices and Discounts
The entrance fees for Lake Shasta Caverns are as follows –
- Adults (16 years and up) – USD 26
- Children (3 to 15 years) – USD 15
The tickets can be purchased on the net or at the main Gift Store. The number of online tickets is limited, and they do sell fast on holidays and weekends. The fee is inclusive of the boat and the bus ride to the entrance of the cave.
Is Lake Shasta Caverns Cold?
The caverns have a temperature of 58 degrees F, and the humidity level ranges from 90 to 95%.
What to Wear?
The tour of the caverns would involve a lot of walking and stair climbing. Considering the region’s weather conditions, we suggest that you should wear a pair of comfortable shoes. You can put in a light sweatshirt if you tend to catch a cold easily.
Lake Shasta Caverns Hours
The Lake Shasta Caverns are open on all days of the week. It operates from
- Sunday to Friday – 8 am to 4:30 pm
- Saturday – 8 am to 5:30 pm
What to Do at Lake Shasta Caverns (Beside Tours)
Apart from the Caverns Tour, one can indulge in other activities to keep oneself busy. There is a separate shaded area where people can relax and enjoy a small picnic, and kids will enjoy the playground called the Rock Box. The mining sluice is popular with both kids and adults, and one may purchase gemstones or a bag of fossils here. The Gift Store is another place to pick up unique items, souvenirs, and rock merchandise. There is also a snack bar that offers nachos, pizzas, hot dogs, and soft drinks.
One may also go for the catamaran rental for a private dinner cruise with your friends and families. The Cavern Queen has the largest capacity in the lake, and the rental charges include the boat, its captain, tables, chairs, ice chests, and table settings for an additional cost.
Best Time to Visit Lake Shasta Caverns
It is always advisable to come to Lake Shasta Caverns when the weather is good. It would be best to avoid going there during the rainy season or after the rains as the pathways become slippery, making it dangerous for the children and the elderly. It is not safe for people who are suffering from motion sickness, joint pains, heart conditions, or claustrophobia.
How to Get to Lake Shasta Caverns
Getting to Lake Shasta Caverns is an adventure as it comprises of three main parts – a boat tour across Shasta Lake, a bus ride to the cave entrance, and end with an information-filled tour of one of the most beautiful limestone caves in the country.
Hotels near Lake Shasta Caverns
If you are planning to check out the other sites in the vicinity of Lake Shasta Caverns, then you may book in any of the top hotels in the region such as Travelodge, Comfort Suites Redding & Sheraton Redding Hotel.
Places To Stay Nearby
Visiting Lake Shasta Caverns
Do you need more information before visiting Lake Shasta Caverns? Call (800) 795 – 2283 or email Lake Shasta Caverns for an information packet.