Caving, photo © National Parks Service
Caving, photo © National Parks Service

Local Caves

There are a few caves north of Mount Shasta that can be explored on your own. You must bring your own flashlights, wear sturdy shoes, and bring water. When exploring caves never go alone, bring extra batteries or lights. Treat the caves with respect and stay on established trails. Caves are delicate and must be explored wisely to avoid damage.

Shastina Lava Cave (sometimes referred to as Barnum Cave)
To reach the caves go north on Interstate 5 to the town of Weed, get on Highway 97, and travel 12.5 miles to road A-12. Turn left 1.9 miles to a dirt road between a deer crossing sign and white posts on the road shoulder. Turn right, then left 0.2 miles to the cave near the right edge of the road. Watch for high rocks in the road.

Pluto’s Cave is located near Road A-12, 3.3 miles from Highway 97 on the left. Follow the dirt road 0.2 miles, then follow the trail on foot approximately 0.3 miles to the cave opening. Pluto’s Cave was formed by an eruption a basaltic lava which originated from a vent about 8 miles to the northeast, between Deer Mountain and The Whaleback. The lava flow is about 190,000 years old. The first record of it’s discovery was by Nelson Cash in 1863 while he was gathering stray cattle. It was named Pluto’s Cave after the Roman god of the underworld. However local Native Americans used the cave long before, and John Muir visited it and wrote about it in “Steep Tails” in 1888.

For more information contact the Klamath National Forest, Goosenest Ranger District in Macdoel at (530) 398-4391.

Lake Shasta Caverns

Lake Shasta Caverns
Credit: Lake Shasta Caverns

Lake Shasta Caverns — Three scenic adventures in one! A visit to Lake Shasta Caverns is more than just exciting explorations of underground magic, thousands of years in the making. It begins with a colorful catamaran cruise across the lake, a 15-minute sail on Shasta’s blue waters, surrounded by majestic mountain beauty. A comfortable 30 passenger bus will carry you high up a mountainside, more than 800 feet above the lake surface. The views are incredible! Now you will enter the caverns, they remain just as nature made them. Only conveniences such as paved walkways and stairs, guardrails and indirect lighting have been added.The humidity level is 95% and the temperature is a comfortable 58 degrees constantly.

The caverns are located 42 miles south of Mount Shasta City on Interstate 5, or about 20 miles north of Redding. Take the Shasta Cavern Road exit, go east about 1 1/2 miles to the gift shop and ticket office. The park and gift shop open at 8 am. Guided tours depart hourly April, May and September, in summer (Memorial Day to Labor Day) tours depart every half-hour, 9 am to 4 pm. In the winter tours depart 10 am, noon and 2 pm. Admission prices are $20 for adults, $12 for children 4 to 12, children 3 and under are free. For more information call (530) 238-2341 or toll free at 1-800-795-CAVE.

Lava Beds National Monument

Entrance to Blue Grotto, Lava Beds National Monument
Entrance to Blue Grotto. Credit: Lava Beds NM

Lava Beds National Monument is a land of turmoil, both geological and historical. Over the last half-million years, volcanic eruptions on the Medicine Lake shield volcano have created a rugged landscape dotted with diverse volcanic features. More than 700 caves, Native American rock art sites, historic battlefields and campsites, and a high desert wilderness experience await you!

There are over 20 developed caves waiting to be explored! To learn more about these caves and how to cave safely and softly please visit the caving page. When caving we recommend wearing appropriate safety gear including long sleeves, long pants, closed-toed shoes or boots, gloves, kneepads and helmets. Gloves, kneepads, helmets and flashlight can be purchased at the visitor center. Flashlights can also be checked out for free at the visitor center.

Valentine Cave, Lava Beds National Monument
Valentine Cave.
Credit: Lava Beds NM

From the I-5 corridor: take U.S. 97 North at Weed towards Klamath Falls. Turn right onto California Hwy. 161, also known as Stateline Road, located just north of Dorris, CA and just south of the California-Oregon border. Brown highway signs mark turns leading to Lava Beds from U.S. 97 into the monument. Travel east on CA 161 through the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge to Hill Road. Turn right on Hill Road at the golf course. Travel south on Hill Road nine miles until you enter Lava Beds National Monument. You will pass the visitor center for the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges on your way.

It takes 1.5 to two hours to reach the Visitor Center from Weed, depending on weather and traffic. Plan ahead in winter– the pass on U.S. 97 at Mount Hebron is often snowy.

When traveling to Lava Beds please keep in mind that while the main park road is open all year, not all roads outside the park are open during the winter and early spring months. If you are unsure if the roads you are planning on taking are open, feel free to give us a call at 530-667-8113, and we will do our best to let you know.