4 of the Most Thrilling Caves Near Sacramento for the Adventurer in You

Sacramento, the capital of California, is often considered a gold mine for museums, shopping, and nightlife. While the city holds great value for residents and visitors, the surrounding area is also a beautiful landscape and home to some great caves. Let Eden Vale Inn host your stay in Placerville, California, while you explore some of Earth’s wonders.

Sacramento skyline reflecting over water

4 Must-See Caves Near Sacramento

Placerville offers tons of exciting attractions near Sacramento, like the Red Hawk Casino and El Dorado County Historical Museum. But, for those looking for something a bit more nature-oriented, these four caves bring out the adventurous spirit in all of us!

Caver looking at a helictite formation

Black Chasm Caverns

Black Chasm Caverns is renowned for its helictites, unique crystal-like formations that meander along the cave walls and ceiling. Unlike conventional stalagmites and stalactites, these formations appear to defy gravity, lending the cave’s interior an enchanting and distinctive ambiance. With such formations found in only five percent of the world’s known caves, encountering them at Black Chasm Caverns presents a rare and unforgettable opportunity. Due to space limitations, the 50-minute guided walking tours accommodate a maximum of 20 people on a first-come, first-served basis. Guests explore three chambers in the upper levels of this vertical cave, where the most remarkable formations thrive, including a stunning blue lake located about 80 feet below the viewing platform in the second chamber. Despite extreme temperatures outside, ranging from over 100 degrees in summer to freezing temperatures in winter, the cave maintains a constant temperature of 58 degrees, making it advisable to bring a jacket. Guests visiting the property can also explore the Miners Trail. This area, rich in natural beauty and historical significance, reveals remnants of Hydraulic mining from the Gold Rush era. Millions of tons of topsoil were washed away, unveiling intricate marble monoliths. Visitors can embark on a self-guided walking tour through this remarkable terrain.

Underground gold mine looking up at the sun

Gold Bug Park and Mine

Gold Bug Mine, located in Gold Bug Park, stands as an authentic relic from the Gold Rush period. Originally known as the Hattie Mine, it began operations in 1888. This well-preserved mine showcases hard rock gold mining, featuring a sturdy wooden floor, lighting throughout, and a constant supply of clean, cool air through its air shaft. The mine floor may vary in dampness depending on the season. The park offers both guided tours and self-paced audio tours, allowing visitors to delve into its historical and geologically intriguing depths. Hattie’s Gold Rush Museum provides a complimentary glimpse into the realities of gold mining, complete with displays of mining equipment and drawings of the various mining techniques that were used. Don’t forget to explore Hattie’s Gift Shop for a unique souvenir of your mining adventure.

Other suggested activities: Bring a leisurely picnic lunch to enjoy, embark on a family-friendly hike along our dog-friendly trails, and immerse yourself in the gold rush museum. You might even catch a demonstration at the blacksmith shop, where handcrafted items are available for purchase. The outdoor pavilion is also available to rent for gatherings of up to 75 people, perfect for summer graduations, picnics, weddings, reunions, and more. With so many options, Gold Bug Park ensures an enriching experience for all.

Cave formations

California Cavern

For the ultimate cave-tour experience, visit California Cavern, a State Historic Landmark and the first show cave in the state. Because seasons impact the dampness of the cave so much, California Caverns offers two 60-80 minute tours depending on the season. During the dry season (summer and fall), embark on the Trail of Lights; in the wet season (winter and spring), explore the Trail of Lakes. Bodies of water inside the cavern can close off some of the cave’s rooms during the wet season, so it is recommended to visit later in the summer. For visitors who want more than a walk through the cavern, expedition tours like the Mammoth Cave Expedition (2-3 hours) and Middle Earth Cave Expedition (4 hours, available only in the dry season) are available for groups of up to 10 people with advance reservations. These expeditions explore the caves by walking, crawling, wriggling, and squirming through natural passages that connect through 8 chambers. The Middle Earth Cave Expedition involves traversing through sticky cave clay, which can reach nearly knee-deep (high-top shoes are necessary), offering awe-inspiring scenery. Additionally, the expedition includes exploring horizontal fissures in the “Cave of the Quills” area and a brief 70-foot rafting journey across “Tom’s Lake.” Finally, participants will encounter passages filled with “goo,” magnificent crystalline rooms, and ascend ladders back into daylight and showers to conclude the adventure. Tour participants are equipped with hardhats, lights, and gloves. However you choose to explore California Caverns, it is sure to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Cave formation that looks like dripping chocolate in Moaning Caverns

Moaning Caverns

With a towering height of over 180 feet, Moaning Caverns boasts California’s largest single cave chamber, making it a must-visit destination for all cave enthusiasts. The name originates from the eerie sounds echoing within the cave, which miners likely heard during the Gold Rush era of the late 1840s. In pursuit of gold, they ventured into the cavern through its small natural entrance, descending to the main room floor using a large ore bucket operated by a winch. Today, visitors can embark on guided cave tours, choosing between the family-friendly Spiral Tour or the more adventurous Expedition Crawling & Spelunking tour.

Tips for the Spiral Tour:

  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • Wear clothing you will be comfortable in at the cave’s 61 degree climate
  • Includes venturing down a 100-foot high spiral staircase
  • Popular for families
  • Plan for tour to take around 45 minutes

Tips for the Expedition Crawling & Spelunking Tour:

  • Reservations required
  • Bring a complete change of clothes and shoes for afterward, and a bag to put your dirty clothes in. Note that hot water and showers are not available.
  • Consider bringing something to eat after the tour (no food or drinks are allowed in the cavern).
  • Save time by filling out the waiver online
  • Accommodates groups up to 8 people
  • Plan on 1/2 day for the tour

Moaning Caverns also doubles as an adventure park, providing below and above-ground fun for all visitors. Consider planning time for axe throwing, panning for gems and shopping for souvenirs. If you get hungry or thirsty between activities an assortment of chips, candy, and cold drinks are available in the gift shop. Whether you’re up for an active adventure or prefer a more leisurely exploration, Moaning Caverns guarantees an unforgettable combination of natural beauty and excitement for every visitor.

Private outdoor bathrub with two gray robes hanging next to it.

Let Eden Vale Inn Host Your Adventurous Side!

After a full day of touring caves near Sacramento, book a stay at one of our seven beautiful and unique rooms. There’s nothing quite like unwinding in one of our private outdoor soaking tubs after a day of exploration, easing away any lingering aches and pains. One of our many elegant room options includes the Madrone. Complete with vaulted ceilings, a king-size bed, and a luxury bathroom, this room offers an expansive feel for a relaxing experience. Plus, it’s only a short distance from the main building, where you can stop by the spa and enjoy one of our many massage offerings!

Browse our complete list of available rooms and book your trip today!