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Spelunking Near Redding

Scenic mountain and river landscapes are lovely, of course, but there’s something truly unique about what lies beneath it all. The areas north of Redding contain both limestone caves and lava tube caves. Lava tube caves are created by the rivers of molten lava that cooled and hardened while the hot liquid interiors continued to flow, leaving hollow, empty tubes. Limestone caves are formed when the limestone is dissolved by acidic water, creating small voids that over long periods of time become large rooms in the caves. Water and chemistry then creates the beautiful formations, such as stalactites and stalagmites, although there are so many more to see!

  • Lava Beds National Monument
  • Shasta Caverns
  • Pluto's Cave
Lava Beds National Monument
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.

Shasta Caverns
Shasta Caverns

The tri-fecta of experiences

A trip to Lake Shasta Caverns National Natural Landmark combines three adventures into one. Enjoy a scenic catamaran ride across Shasta Lake, a bus ride to the cave entrance, and an information-filled tour of what some geologists consider one of the most beautifully decorated caves in the United States. Working with scientists from institutions such as Vanderbilt University has helped Lake Shasta Caverns continue to advance the knowledge of the cave, and provide that information to guests.

Pluto's Cave
Pluto's Cave

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.

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