Photo © Dave Bunnell
Moaning Cavern holds California's largest public cave chamber. It's so massive it could hold the entire Statue of Liberty. The cave was formed in limestone and has some large, impressive formations including the 25-foot tall flow stone formation known as the Igloo. Tours have been given into Moaning Cavern since the mid-1800's when visitors were lowered into the main chamber in a bucket with only a candle to light the way.
Today's walking tour into Moaning Cavern offers an inspiring view into the fascinating earth below. Visitors descend 234 stairs to the bottom of the massive main chamber, using the historic spiral staircase for 100 feet of the descent. Completed in 1922, the staircase was constructed of steel from a WWI battleship and was the first all arc welded project in the Western United States.
Beautiful drapery formations can be seen up close from the spiral staircase. Huge stalactites drip from the ceiling, but look tiny due to the scale of this massive chamber. A red-tinted flowstone formation known as the 'mushroom patch' cascades down much of the main chamber, and gets its color from iron rich mineral deposits. Across the chamber, the iconic snow-white 'Igloo' formation owes its color to pure calcite composition. There is much to see in this beautiful and impressive cave with its unusual vertical orientation.
The focus of the tour is on the history of the cave, its formation and geology. Ancient artifacts and human remains can be seen on display at the beginning of the tour. Guides describe the process of forming the massive flow stones, stalactites and stalagmites that can be seen.
In addition to 45-minute walking tours, more daring visitors can choose to rappel in by rope 165-feet to the bottom of the main chamber. No experience is necessary and all equipment and training is provided. The rappel is also the optional beginning to a 3-hour wild caving Adventure Trip taking participants on a challenging route in undeveloped, unlit areas of the cave using only helmet lights to light the way. This trip is available by reservation only.
These tours are not suitable for those with a fear of heights, claustrophobia, or physical problems which would make it hard to climb the stairs.
Above ground, Moaning Cavern Park also offers a climbing tower and thrilling twin Zip Lines.
All activities are available every day, year round.
Fees: 2010 fees: Walking tour - Adult $14.25 Child $7.15; Rappel - $65; Zip - $39; 3-hour Adventure Trip - $130