As the weather heats up outside, the local caverns of Sequoia and Kings Canyon Parks open up for the summer.
Some believe the vast amount of caves within the two parks would have been worthy of National Park status and protection by themselves. More than 80 caves were documented within the two parks during the 1970’s, according to the National Park Service. But it wasn’t until the find of the Hurricane Crawl Cave in 1986 that a more proactive cave management program began in the parks.
There are some 200 discovered caves ranging in elevation from 1,500 to 10,000 feet located along this area of the Sierra, according to the National Park Service. Some of these caves may be found at the South Fork of the Kaweah River, Mineral King, Paradise Ridge, Yucca Creek and Redwood Canyon.
Subterranean streams continue to polish marble and create the stalactites and stalagmites of the cave known as Crystal Cave in Sequoia National Park, a popular visitor’s destination since the early 1940’s. Crystal Cave is open to the public during summer months through guided tours only.
Entrance to the cave is located in the Giant Forest area of the park and contains some three miles of passage in its formations. The cave remains at a constant temperature of 48F degrees, so jackets are recommended. There is a half-mile hike to the cave entrance. Guided tours begin at the entrance to the ring the peak season, early reservations are recommended and all tours are through reservation only. Tickets must be purchased at the Foothills or Lodgepole Visitors Centers within the park.
Boyden Cavern is located along the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway between Grants Grove and Cedar Grove in the Sequoia National Monument, within Kings Canyon National Park. It lies beneath the 2,000-foot-high marble walls of the Kings Gates. The location is not as well-known as Crystal Cave and is in a less congested area.
Tours are offered through an outside concessioner and individual tickets need not be purchased in advance.
There is a steep five-minute walk to the cavern, but otherwise the tour is not considered strenuous and is family-oriented toward children and seniors. Up to 40 people may attend any given tour which takes approximately 45 minutes and includes various rooms within the cavern.
Visitors may see a variety of stalactites and stalagmites as well as crystalline helictites and speleothems included in the Pancake Room and the Upside Down City.
For more information regarding Crystal Cave, visit http://www.visitsequoia.com/crystal-cave.aspx
For more information regarding Boyden Cave, visit http://www.visitsequoia.com/Tours-Boyden-Cave.aspx
For Boyden Cave tour information, call, 888-965-8243.