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California Caves

California caves are as diverse as its population. From sea caves on the Southern coast to sandstone wind caves and mud caves in the inland deserts. From limestone caves and caverns in the Sierra Nevada mountains to lava tubes in the far North. Whatever kind of caving adventure you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it here.

California Caves by The Sea

La Jolla Sea Caves
La Jolla Sea Caves

Southern California is home to quite a few sea caves. In La Jolla, you can walk right into a sea cave from the Cave Store. If you’re more adventurous, you can take a kayak tour and paddle right inside one or more of the La Jolla Caves. It’s also possible to swim inside them, although this can be dangerous and is best done with a guide. Get in touch with this group if you’re interested.

Wild Desert Caves

Wind Cave
Wind Cave

The Anza Borrego Desert State Park hosts both mud caves and sandstone wind caves. These can be a little hard to find and get to. They usually require some hiking but are well worth the trip.

Mud caves can be a little dangerous to explore, so be sure you know what you’re doing.

Wind caves are as fragile as they are beautiful. Please don’t spoil them with graffiti. As much as you may love your sweetheart, find another way to express it.

There are also limestone caves in the Mojave desert, such as Mitchell Caverns.

Beautiful Limestone Caves

Cave Formation in a Limestone Cave


A formation inside a limestone cave. Moaning Caverns, California.

Limestone caves and caverns are abundant in the gold-rush areas of California. These are usually beautiful caves with many formations. Often, these caves have adventure tours apart from the general public tours. Moaning Caverns is a great example. Others popular limestone caves include California Caverns, Mercer Caverns and Shasta Caverns.

Spartan Lava Tubes

California Lava Tube
California Lava Tube

Lava caves or “tubes” as they’re called can be found both in Southern California in the Mojave Desert and at Lava Beds National Monument up by the Oregon border. There are more lava tubes in other parts of the state where there are old lava flows.

This type of cave is formed when active lava flows cool down. The outer layers harden but the interior stays molten and flows out, leaving a hollow “tube” or cave. These caves are usually not decorated with a lot of formations but are fun to explore anyways.

Get Out and Explore!

Although there is not the sheer abundance of caves like there is in the Southern states, California more than makes up for it in the wide-ranging types that are available to explore. If you live in or visit the state, be sure to diversify your caving experience!

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