Caving, photo © National Parks Service

Caving, photo © National Parks Service

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.

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 .2 mile 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 . 2 mile, then follow the trail on foot appx .3 miles to the cave opening. Pluto’s Cave was formed by an eruption a basaltic lava which orginated 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.

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