Looking for a new adventure in the High Sierra? Look down – to the fascinating geology and history in the Gold Country's caverns and historic gold mines. Close to vacation rentals in Yosemite and an easy day trip from Shaver Lake and Mammoth Lakes lodging , there's a ton of stuff to do that range from kid-friendly to high-adventure just below the surface. Get ready to dig for fun in California's Gold Country on your next vacation.
Black Chasm Cavern – A favorite for families, Black Chasm Cavern tours will lead you deep below the surface on easy-to-navigate stairs and walkways into illuminated chambers filled with rare crystal formations, stalactites, stalagmites and other wonders. Above ground, stroll the Zen Garden where standing stones from the area's mining history merge with varied ecosystems for a unique hike. At the Visitors Center, you can mine your own gemstones or crack open a geode for a one-of-a-kind souvenir.
Sutter Gold Mine – Don a hardhat and get a glimpse into the life of a gold miner at the Sutter Gold Mine about an hour outside of Sacramento and near Gold Country cabins. Tour trucks take groups into the mine for an hour-long look into the area's mining history and modern mining techniques. This tour is great for kids as young as four, and your family can pan for gold or crack open geodes back up at the surface.
California Cavern – The California Cavern has been open to the public since 1850 and is a California Historic Landmark that offers a variety of ways to explore the world below the surface. Families with younger kids can see the amazing formations on guided walking tours, and older kids (8 and up) who are craving more adventure can join in the Mammoth Cave Expedition, a tour that includes some crawlways and squeezes and provides a hardhat with a light. More serious spelunkers and adventure seekers (16 and up) can join the Middle Earth Expedition for a mile-long explore of the cave system.
Moaning Cavern Adventure Park – Near Gold Country mountain rentals in Murphys, Moaning Cavern Adventure Park has something for everyone. The whole family can go down into the cave on 165 steps on the walking tour. Teens and adults can rappel into the cave, and no climbing experience is required, then adventurers can continue to explore the deep on a three-hour guided adventure tour. Above-ground, see the foothills from the air on the zip lines.
Gold Cliff Mine – Thrill-seekers won't want to miss the chance to explore the history and geology in a challenging adventure trip. The mine was active from the late 1800s to 1920, and the adventure tour allows you to experience the life of the miners, climbing ropes and ladders and rafting the underground waterway.