A popular thing to do near Redding, CA is the Lake Shasta Caverns Tour. The caverns are located above Shasta Lake and they are a National Natural Landmark.
The Shasta Caverns tour includes a boat ride and a bus ride before entering the caverns. It was like three adventures in one!
Lake Shasta Caverns
I visited with my family in 2020 and here is all the information you will want to know to plan your trip to see the caverns.
Shasta Caverns Information:
- Hours: Check the website as the hours change through the year
- Cost: 16 and older $30 / 15 and under $18
- Parking: Free
- Location: 20359 Shasta Caverns Rd. Lakehead, CA 96051
- Tour Duration: 2 hours total
Driving to the Caverns
Lake Shasta Caverns are located in the small city of Lakehead, Ca right on the McCloud arm of Shasta Lake. They are about 25 minutes from Redding, CA.
To get to the caverns from Redding you will head north on I-5 and drive for 16 miles. Take the 695 O’Brien/Shasta Caverns Rd. then turn right onto Lakeview Dr.
This road gets a little bit narrow and it is windy (might be hard for large RVs) Continue for about 0.2 miles then you will see a sign to the entrance of the Shasta Caverns.
They had a huge gravel parking area and while the road was windy and narrow, there were some smaller RVs parked up there. The parking is Free and it was really easy for us to find a parking spot the day we visited.
Shasta Caverns Gift Shop
Once you find parking you will clearly see the entrance sign to Lake Shasta Caverns. You will also see a play area for kids. They have some informational signs and a little gold mining area.
If you want to mine for gold just go to the gift shop and you can purchase some “pay dirt” and they will give you a little box to pan it and there are surprises like little crystals or arrow heads in the pay dirt.
I thought this was such a fun idea for kids. We didn’t have the time when we visited but I will be going back and doing it for sure.
After you pass the entrance you will continue down a little pathway to the gift shop. I was so surprised at how nice the gift shop was. There were a ton of cute souvenirs, affordable trinkets for kids, bathrooms, and they even had a soda machine, drinks and snacks.
You will purchase your tour tickets in the gift shop. They have tours that leave on the half hour of every hour so you can just purchase your ticket when you get there and then wait on the back porch waiting area until your boarding time is called.
The waiting area even has a few fun kid activities. You can purchase a geode at the gift shop and then crack it open in the machine on the porch or you can bring 50 cents and a penny and insert it in the the penny rolling machine to make your own Lake Shasta Caverns suvenlour penny.
Boat Ride Across Shasta Lake
When it is time for boarding they call your boarding time on the loud speaker and you begin the walk down to the boat to begin the tour. The first part of the tour is a boat ride across the McCloud arm of Shasta Lake.
I loved the boat ride it was so pretty going across the lake. It takes about 10 minute for the boat to get to the other side of the lake where the caverns are located.
Bus Ride to the Cavern Entrance
After you get off the boat you will walk up a hill to get on the bus that takes you the rest of the way up the side of the mountain to the Lake Shasta Caverns entrance and visitor center.
The bus ride takes about about 10 minutes. The bus is spacious and air conditioned which was nice. The road up the the cavern entrance that the bus travels is very narrow and has some sharp turns.
Once you get close to the top the view is amazing. I get scared of roads that are high up so I was a little nervous, but it was still fun!
Shasta Caverns Visitor center
Once you get off the bus you enter into the visitor center where there is more information about the area and the caverns. They have a big bear in the middle that is a cute place for a photo. They also have bathrooms.
After you walk through the visitor center you will see the entrance to the Lake Shasta Caverns on the left. It’s a little door that enters right into the mountain side.
They do guided tours or self guided tours at different times of the year. When we went it was a self guided tour and so you are free to walk through the caverns yourself and take your time exploring the different rooms of the cave.
They have tour guides in each room to answer questions and tell you more about the Caverns. I like the self guided tour because I was able to go as slow as I wanted and there wasn’t in a big crowd.
We visited in June of 2020 and it was hot outside, once you enter into the caverns it is a bit cooler but it is not as cold as I expected.
I wore shorts and my jacket and had to end up taking my jacket off because I got too hot. They say that the temperature in the caves is about 68 – 72 degrees.
Once you enter the caverns you will begin walking up the stairs to the first cavern room. The stairs have hand railing and there are lights along the edges so that you can see the caverns walls.
I wore sandals, but I would probably wear walking shoes if I go back because the stairs were wet in some areas and there was a few puddles of water. This is because water naturally drops down into the caves.
You will continue climbing stairs that will take you through the caverns. You don’t have to duck or crawl in any of the spots. You are able to stand up strait and walk through. They said that there are over 600 stairs total in the caverns.
History of Lake Shasta Caverns
The caverns are were officially discovered in 1878 by a fish hatchery employee and explorer in the area. You can actually see where he wrote his name on the cavern wall during the tour. It says James A. Richardson and is dated November 11, 1878.
It wasn’t until 1964 that the caverns were opened to the public. They are now a National Natural Historic Landmark. Click here to read more about the Shasta Lake Caverns history.
Touring the Caverns
I was surprise by how much caverns there were to see. There were many different large rooms of caverns to explore. Once you are inside the caverns it takes about 45 minutes to walk through the different areas.
It was much bigger than I expected. There are also some benches along the way if you need to take a break. I went with a big group of my family and we all loved it. It’s perfect for kids too as my kids had fun exploring the caves.
The very last cavern room was my favorite it was huge and there were many different formations. This is also a great spot to get a photo as there is alot of lights in this room. They said that we could take pictures within the caverns, just not to touch them.
Last Part of the Tour
After you exit the last room you go through a door that takes you back outside and then you continued walking down more stairs until you reach the visitor center.
Here you will wait for the next bus to take you back down to the lake and then get back on the boat to cross the lake.
After we got off the boat you can walk back up to the visitor center and return to your car. They even have shoe cleaner if you want to stop and clean any mud off your shoes.
We walked back up to the Shasta Caverns gift shop and got some fun souvenirs. All the employees and guides were so nice on the tour. They were friendly helpful and answered all our questions.
I called prior to arriving with questions about purchasing tickets and tour times and they were very helpful and explained everything in detail. Everyone from my family enjoyed our adventure to Shasta Caverns and I would highly recommend it.
Check out this video to see our visit to Shasta Lake Caverns the views from the caverns were so pretty.
Here are some helpful links to plan your visit to Shasta Caverns:
- Official Website: https://www.lakeshastacaverns.com
- Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/LakeShastaCaverns
If you are looking for even more of an adventure you can camp near the caverns. Shasta Lake offers so many beautiful places to camp around the lake.
Camping Near Shasta Caverns
The closest campgrounds to Shasta Lake Caverns are Bailey Cove Campground and Holiday Harbor Resort and Campground. Some other near by campgrounds include Salt Creek Campground, Antlers, and Gregory Beach Shoreline Camping.