Spelunking in Redding’s Caves
Scenic mountain and river landscapes are lovely, of course, but there’s something truly unique about what lies beneath it all. Much of Redding was created by volcanic activity. Exterior layers of rivers of molten lava cooled and hardened while the hot liquid interiors continued to flow, leaving hollow, empty tubes. Because of this, many lava tubes are scattered throughout the region and the caves within generally lie unnoticed until a portion of the roof erodes, leaving an entrance. Fortunately for eager spelunkers, there are several caves in Redding that are open to the public!
Lava Beds National Monument
The Caves Heat Up
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 more than 700 caves. Visitors to the caves need to be prepared for some strenuous caving in parts, but not all caves are for diehard spelunking. Mushpot Cave is the only illuminated section, and each has its own particularities, so do some research in advance. Keep an eye out for bats roosting overhead and other (harmless!) creatures that call these caves home.
The Best in Redding
A trip to Shasta Caverns combines three mini adventures into one. Enjoy a scenic catamaran cruise across Shasta Lake, a bus ride to the cave entrance, and an information-filled tour of what some geologists consider one of the most beautiful limestone caves in the United States. Arguably the most accessible of the public caves, Shasta Caverns also pairs you with a guide so you don’t have to worry about taking a wrong turn.
Underground or Outer Space?
Pluto’s Cave is a lava tube that was formed by an eruption of basaltic lava which originated from a vent about 8 miles to the northeast, between Deer Mountain and The Whaleback. Visitors can safely hike about 1,200 feet into the cave for a unique adventure. The diameter of this cave is exceptionally large – even larger than many of the major caves in the Hawaiian Islands.