A remarkable find on the north end of Shasta Lake, this series of natural limestone caves reveals an underground world some 250 million years in the making. And to make them even cooler, the caverns are only accessible via guided tours that include a boat ride across the sparkling lake—the only way the public can reach the site.
Though the local Wintu Native Americans likely knew of the caves long before Shasta Dam created the lake in 1945, it was local fish hatchery employee J.A. Richardson who got the honors of “officially” discovering the caverns in 1878. Inside, there’s plenty of cave-ish eye candy, including bulbous stalagmites and spindly stalactites, glistening limestone curtains with bacon-like bands of color, and helictites, delicately twisted straw-like cave formations.
Opened in 1964 as a local attraction, Lake Shasta Caverns offers tours year round. It’s a moderately strenuous 45- to 60-minute visit inside, with some 600 stairs accessing different parts of the labyrinth, but it’s well worth the effort.