While we were in Gold Rush country visiting friends, we made a point to get out to the Black Chasm National Natural Landmark near Volcano, California. We love a cave, and while this is one of the smaller ones we have been in, it was quite impressive! Some of the formations were much different than we have ever seen before as they have some very rare helictite crystals.
The tour starts off by descending some steep stairs, you get to the first landing for the first talk filled with lots of “punny” jokes and stories, but plenty to learn as well. The kids all had a good laugh, and so did the adults (through a couple of groans). The whole tour was very entertaining.
Like all caves, this one is constantly changing through moisture and also under the weight of some of the formations. You can see where some have come crashing to the floor due to their size.
There are massive formations like these, which we have seen in other caves.
And there are the very delicate tiny formations called helictites, which almost look like little white worms working their way out of the rock. We thought it was very sci-fy looking!
At the bottom of the chasm is a beautiful lake that is said to be 70 ft deep!
The tours last just short of an hour, and are $14.95/adult and $7.95/child (ages 3-12). The walk is not very strenuous, but there are several stairs you will have to go up and down.
After our tour, we decided to buy a bag of sand and try out gem stone mining in the sluice boxes. There are 2 sizes of sand to purchase. We got the big bag and it cost us about $10. We took it out and were enjoying finding the gem stones and identifying what they were.
The Lad felt as though he had struck it rich that day. And he had! We had a rich day of entertainment, and we later filled our bellies with some delicious food at the Kneading Dough Bakery in Volcano (we also highly recommend eating there too!). We indulged in lovely sandwiches, quiches, cookies, amazing lemon bars, and bread to take with us. I can’t wait to get back (and may be asking my friend to pack along a few of those lemon bars for her next visit up north!).