Olie and Kelly's Cross Country Road Trip! travel blog

View of Lake Shasta from outside caverns

Formations in the Shasta Caverns, CA

Nightshot of Us in the caves...whooooo!


Today we headed north on I-5 to the Shasta Lake area. The red clay lake is much larger than we expected, the water is green and due to the changing water level, it's banks are very steep and usable. We did not realize until we arrived that it is a man-made lake from the Sacramento River. There are four "fingers" and numerous flooded towns, bridges, and old railroads underwater. Would have made for really awesome scuba diving!

But not today...today we went into the Shasta Lake Caverns. Privately owned and discovered in 1878 by two friends hunting. What a find! We took a short boat trip to a steep bus ride and into the caverns. The caverns were divided in "rooms" which were discovered one by one. Huge stalactites hung from the ceilings and bacon formations protruded from the walls. The stairs and paths wound through the caverns with surprises around every turn. Glistening rock and crystal, water dripped from the ceiling, and the soft lighting illuminated the massive structures. We were in a small group and had a wonderful and knowledgeable guide who gave us lots of history on the caverns and formations.

I think what surprised me the most about the caverns and formations was how fragile they looked. It seemed as if you were to flick one rock, they would all come crumbling down. But on the contrary, the only way to move the rock is with dynamite and lots of it. It's hard to believe rock could make such shapes and beautiful creations. It did have one weakest, ha, even rock has a weakness. The formations need water and minerals to form and the oil from human hands prevents the rock from getting water thus killing the formation, causing it to stop growing, and turn black. As much as we all wanted to run our hands along the different textures, no one wanted to be responsible for killing a 10 foot stalagmites that took a 100 years an inch to form. Nope!

After a long day of traversing caverns we headed back home and stopped at our first In & Out Burger. The fast food pride of California. It was greasy and indulgent and probably our last!



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