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Lake Shasta Caverns, Lakehead

#125 of 397 in Nature in California
Cave Nature / Park
The Lake Shasta Caverns are a network of caves located near the McCloud arm of Shasta Lake in California. It was formerly named Chalk Cave and Baird Cave, named after Spencer Fullerton Baird.HistoryThe caverns are dated at least 200 million years, and were formed by flowing water. Over the years this water drained leaving the caverns seen today. The caves are made entirely of limestone, and feature every type of possible formation, including stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, columns, and flowstone. The Discovery Room, one of eight known rooms in the cavern system, contains all types of limestone rock formation. the first recorded white explorer was James A. Richardson, a federal fisheries employee. His claim of discovery is still clearly legible on the wall where he wrote it that day – November 11, 1878 – with carbide from his miner's lamp.Until 1964, Lake Shasta Caverns were seen each year by only a handful of hardy spelunkers who inched their way through steep, restricted natural fissures to view its startling formations. Before opening to the public, a new entrance was needed, as the current was a small hole in the ceiling, barely large enough for one man to fit through. Using explosives, workers blasted a tunnel from a rock face deep into the mountain, hoping to reach the lowest known room, the Basement. However, along the way, a large rock wall was knocked down, revealing the Discovery Room, perhaps the most fascinating room in the caverns. As a result of this, the Basement Room ironically is not the lowest room. The idea of preserving this natural phenomenon first came to Grace M. Tucker, an attorney from Chehalis, Washington. In 1955, she obtained sole ownership of the caves. In 1959, Mrs. Tucker, along with Roy Thompson and his two brothers, formed Lake Shasta Properties, Inc. The site was declared a National Natural Landmark in May 2012.
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
247 reviews
  • We spent several days here on Lake Shasta in early June before school let out!  We thought it wouldn't be as crowded....... "WRONG...." Everyone and their grandmother was down here renting a houseboat...  more »
  • Nice combo of walk, boat, and bus ride, and caves tour. Not as cool inside as Oregon caves, 70 when it was 102 outside, so don't take sweater or jacket. Lots of stairs down to boat and lots of walking...  more »
  • Lake Shasta Caverns is such a beautiful little day trip. We really enjoyed taking the boat over to the Caverns, the bus ride up the mountain and then the tour of the Caverns themselves. The boat ride ...  more »

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