Caves of the Shasta Cascade

Scenic mountain and river landscapes get a lot of (deserved) attention, but there’s something truly unique about exploring a cave! Much of the landscape north and east of Redding was created by volcanic activity. Because of this, many lava tubes are scattered throughout the region. Fortunately for explorers like you, there are several caves open to the public! Below we've put together a weekend itinerary hitting some of our favorite caving sites. So pack the car, grab a flashlight, and get ready to channel your inner spelunker!

Day 1:

Lake Shasta Caverns National Natural Landmark

Photo Credit: Rob Crenson

Your first stop is Lake Shasta Caverns National Natural Landmark - three adventures in one! Start the tour with a catamaran cruise across Shasta Lake, then hop on a bus and make your way to the beautiful and historic limestone caves. Once there, you'll be taken on a guided tour of caves that have been 250 million years in the making!

After you've toured Shasta Caverns, head out to Subway Cave. Maintained by the US Forest Service, this lava tube is unusually easy to explore, with ample headroom and a rubble-free floor. The U.S. Forest Service has installed concrete stairs, a trail from the parking lot, and interpretive signs explaining the origins of the cave. This is the largest accessible tube in this flow, and temperatures remain at about 46F year-round. Be sure to take a light jacket and a flashlight.

Day 2:

Lava Beds National Monument

Finish the weekend by heading to Lava Beds National Monument. Enjoy the trip on the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway and take in some of the gorgeous landscapes of the area. Once you've arrived, plan the day to explore the varied landscape of this national monument. Over the last half-million years, volcanic eruptions have created a rugged landscape dotted with diverse volcanic features. More than 800 caves, Native American rock art sites, historic battlefields, and a high desert wilderness experience await you.

Left to Right: Crystal Ice Cave and Fern Cave

The caves at Lava Beds are the star of the show, and there are certainly plenty to choose from! There are opportunities for everyone, from the first-time cave visitor to the experienced spelunker. Or, you can always join a ranger for a guided tour of Fern Cave or the Crystal Ice Cave, some of the most spectacular caves on property. (Available seasonally.)

Once you've had your fill of exploring Lava Beds, head back to Redding for dinner - or maybe a show at the Cascade Theater or Civic Auditorium - for the perfect relaxing end to a weekend of caving.