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California Moaning Caverns

Cool underground haunt year round in foothills

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California Moaning Caverns

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POSTED May 12, 2012 1:15 a.m.

California Moaning Cavern is located in Vallecito on 5350 Moaning Cave Road between Murphys and Columbia off of Highway 49 in the Sierra foothills. You can reach the area by taking Highway 4 toward Angels Camp.

More information is available by going to or calling (209) 736-2708.

The 45-minute Cavern Walk Tour

The popular 45-minute tour into the cave is suitable for the whole family. Professionally guided, the tour descends through well-lighted marble passages into the magnificent natural wonder. Descending down 234 stairs to a depth of 165 feet below the ground, the tour ends on the spot were scientific excavations revealed the bones of prehistoric people who had fallen into the cavern thousands of years ago. Guides explain the history and geology of the cavern, and discuss the explorations that have traced the cavern to its current depth of 410 feet. For safety reasons, they do not allow children to be carried in backpacks on this tour. Small babies in front packs/slings are okay. Caves are naturally muddy and humid - dress appropriately.

Temperatures are 61 degrees year round.

The daily year-round trips are $14.95 for adults and $7.95 for children 3 to 12.

The 165-foot Rope Rappel

Descend by rope 165 feet into the huge main chamber of Moaning Cavern. No experience is necessary, and gloves, hard-hat, and the highest quality rappelling equipment are provided. Adventurous people from all walks of life are thrilled by this unique and exciting opportunity to try something new! Total trip time is approximately 45 minutes.

Participants must be at least 12 years old, and special restrictions apply. There are five ways a minor child (aged 12 to 17) may rappel at Moaning Cavern as long as they weigh 100 pounds:

1. Their parent or legal guardian is present to evaluate the rappel and sign the waiver.

2. They bring a signed waiver that has been notarized.

3. They bring a signed waiver that has been witnessed by another adult who is present at the cavern and can verify the signature.

4. They bring a notarized letter from a parent or legal guardian authorizing another adult who is present at the cavern to evaluate the rappel and sign the waiver.

5. They bring a signed letter from a parent or legal guardian which includes a witness signature of another adult who is present at the cavern who can verify their signature, authorizing that adult to evaluate the rappel and sign the waiver.

The cost is $65 per person year round. Hardhats and gloves are provided

The 3-hour Adventure Trip

Energetic cave explorers can begin this exciting expedition with the 165-foot rope rappel, followed by one to two hours of exploration through deep chambers and passages. (The trip is also available without the rappel.)

Most areas are undeveloped, so there are no lights, stairs, or walkways. Instead, visitors daringly explore by climbing and belly crawling with lighted helmets to show the way. This trip is offered all year by reservation, and is conducted by experienced, highly trained guides. No experience is necessary. Gloves, hard-hat with light, coveralls from size 36 adult, and rappelling gear are provided. Participants must be at least 12 years old, and minors must be accompanied by an adult. The same restrictions on the rappel as listed above apply to an Adventure Trip which includes the rappel. Total trip time is approximately 3 hours. If you are interested in taking this trip, you will need to call 209-736-2708 to make reservations. The cost is $130 with rappel and $76 without. Hard hat, gloves, and overalls are provided.

The Custom Climbing Tower

The new, custom-designed climbing tower is 32 feet high and includes climbing routes from beginner to challenging. The tower can accommodate 10 people at a time, and includes a belay system - just climb and then jump back for a smooth, automatic descent. Participants are geared up in climbing harnesses, then clipped on to the route of their choice. Routes include life-like rock features and overhangs, making it one of the most competitive climbing surfaces available today.

The cost is $6 per person with discounts when purchased with other offerings at the caverns.


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