Deep in the mountains of Northern California, there is a unique world of exquisite rock formations. It is an alluring and mysterious place arousing our curiosity and sense of exploration. This magical world, hundreds of feet inside the McCloud Limestone Mountain Range is Lake Shasta Caverns. Although Lake Shasta Caverns is 250 million years in the making, this National Natural Landmark will be celebrating its 50th anniversary of being open to the public in 2014. Since opening on May 30, 1964, this amazing natural wonder has educated and enthralled close to two and a half million people.
The two-hour journey begins with a catamaran cruise across the McCloud arm of Shasta Lake, which happens to be the houseboating capital of the world. The 10 minute trip across the lake provides a small glimpse of the 400 miles of shoreline and beautiful terrain that Shasta Lake has to offer. Once the passengers reach the East side of the McCloud, they find themselves on a peninsula enclosed by the McCloud and Squaw Creek arms of Shasta Lake. With the closest road being 10 miles to the north, this pristine environment is rich with wildlife and untouched splendor. The road that the guests will travel by bus to the cavern entrance is 850 feet above the emerald green waters of the lake. This scenic ride offers some of the most breathtaking views of the native mountain ranges and a bird’s eye view of the water activities on the lake.
Upon entering a 300 foot man-made tunnel into the mountainside, guests will find themselves in a subterranean wonderland. In a year-round 58 degree environment, explorers will then accompany an interpreter that will inform them of the geology, history and importance of such a remarkable natural resource. From the 38 different speleothem (cave formations) to Jurassic fossils, new discoveries appear in every turn.
Realizing how fragile and unique the cavern environment was, the Underground Classroom was created in 2001 to teach students, both local and abroad, of the importance of such an irreplaceable find and how caves have fostered life throughout the millennia.
This phenomenon was recognized in 2012 by the National Park Service for its rich features and was dedicated as the 593rd National Natural Landmark in the United States. Not only was the cave recognized for its rich speleothem and fossil preservation within the region, but for the care in conservation and representation of the cavern and its surrounding environment.