One of my childhood dreams was to visit the, Crystal Cave in Sequoia National Park. Unfortunately the one time my parents tried to take us to the Crystal Caves the trail was covered with ice (during summer time!), so the National Park Service wasn't allowing visitors due to the slippery trail.
Years had past and I never visited, so we when we were planning our Sequoia trip this past June I made sure we were going to visit the beautiful stalactites and stalagmites! There are really no words to describe the wonderful underground world but here are some tips and information about the Crystal Cave.
There is a little bit of hiking to get to the cave 1/2 mile for a total of a 1 mile hike roundtrip, this does not include the walking inside the cave. Very easy hike down to the cave but that means a steep hike up to the parking lot.
Tips for Families with Children
- Soft Kid Carrier ~ A full blown kid carrier is probably over doing it for this 1-mile hike since ANY type of kid carrier is not allowed into the caves. All bags, backpacks, kid carrier (fabric too) has to be left at the cave entrance.
- Water ~ Bottled water is not allowed inside the cave but you can take the water and leave at the entrance of the cave. We didn't bring any water which wasn't a big deal on the way down but we all got a little thirsty on the hike up. Bring water down and leave it at the entrance before entering the cave.
- Extra Layer ~ The cave is ALWAYS 50 degrees Fahrenheit, no matter what the weather is outside the cave. It was in the 80's when we visited in late June, at first it felt great to be in this "natural air conditioned" cave but the change it temperature does make it chilly after a sweaty hike. Take sweaters for the whole family especially for little ones who cool off quicker.
- Darkness ~ Caves are dark, but they do have lighted areas or else we could not see all the great rock formations. My toddlers enjoyed the semi-darkness but at one point of the tour, the guide turned off all the lights and it was completely dark. Make sure you are holding your child, especially if they are scared of the dark. No flashlights or flash photography is allowed.
- Pricing and Ticket Location ~ Adults were $15/ticket, 5-12 years $8/ticket and under 5 years $5 ticket. Tickets are not sold at the actual Crystal Cave bookstore. Purchase tickets at one of the visitor centers.
The Crystal Cave Tour
The tour actually starts half an hour BEFORE the schedule ticket, i.e. 3:30 pm ticket time, meetup with guide at the book store at 3:00 pm to have enough time to hike down to the cave entrance. If you get down early there is a beautiful waterfall and creek to relax by. Traffic to the Crystal Cave can be quite a hassle due to all of Sequoia's road construction, so we left 2 hours before our schedule time per the docents suggestion. Photography is allowed but with NO FLASH, fortunately my camera had a nifty nighttime feature that allowed my pictures to come out. I can describe the caves to you but I'd rather show pictures!
Walking through the first level....
My kids thought these were icicles and everything was snow to them...
The cave family...
Fairyland, those little stalactites were 100 years old....
Stalagmite (coming from the ground) aka Jabba the Hutt...
Chasqui Mom Last Thoughts.....
I truly was beyond amazed by Crystal Cave, I couldn't even pay attention to the guide explaining how this beautiful place was created because I was so mesmerized by this place. Something about the water flowing above and through the cave created it, over thousands and thousands of years. It was a family favorite during our week-long vacation at Sequoia National Park and my kids definitely have a fascination with caves now!
It might be a little touristy location for an outdoor enthusiast but I highly recommend visiting this Crystal Cave. I'm glad that many years ago some National Park Rangers slid down this mountain on their butts and found the beautiful California treasure by accident. Now thousands of people can experience this amazing place in addition to everything else Sequoia National Park has to offer.
Have you visited Crystal Cave or a similar marble cave? What did you love?
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