A cave with some of the nicest formations you will encounter! The 1/2 mile hike down to the cave... read more
A cave with some of the nicest formations you will encounter! The 1/2 mile hike down to the cave... read more
Crystal Cave is an interesting attraction in Sequoia National Park; it is an example of - the... read more
Ended up at the caves to cool off...
Good price and quite an extensive cave system. Resident naturalists seemed reasonably well informed
A cave with some of the nicest formations you will encounter! The 1/2 mile hike down to the cave entrance (and back up) is on a nice trail that passes by a beautiful water fall on the creek that runs into and through the cave. You spend approximately 50 min in the cave itself, in several large rooms that have geological formations that contribute to the names of the rooms. The guides are very knowledgeable about the formations & the history of the cave. With the 20 minute car trip from generals highway to the parking lot, the trail walks and the pre tour briefing, this is about a 3-4 hour experience and probably best suited for a multi day visit to the park. There are clothing restrictions to prevent the spread of disease to the bats. Read the know before you go about clothing restrictions.
I’ve been in lots of caves and I would be the last person to discourage anyone from spending money to support a National Park. But even if you have never visited a cave before, there are several reasons why I’m telling you to just skip this one and spend your dollars in one of the park gift shops instead. There are much better ways to spend your money and especially your precious vacation time inside the park.
1) First of all, the ticket process is dumb. You cannot show up at the cave and purchase a ticket. If you do, you will be placed on a waiting list and will have to wait until a space becomes available. No telling how long that will take. Instead, you must buy your timed ticket either on-line or at one of the visitor’s centers. That means you must guess at what time you will arrive at the cave and allow plenty of time to get there. If you are like most people, that will probably mean you will over-estimate and end up sitting around the parking lot waiting for your tour time to begin. There is a small open-air gift shop with a few items to browse and restrooms are available in the parking lot. They may also allow you to join an earlier tour if space is available.
2) Second, once you reach the turn off for the cave you must drive at least another 20 minutes down a very long and winding road to the parking lot. The road you travel down to the cave must be traveled back up. That’s 40 minutes spent just driving the cave road that could be better spent communing with the giant trees.
3) From the parking lot it is a steep and long half mile hike down to the cave opening where the tour begins. You are warned to watch out for falling rocks, rattle snakes, and poison oak. They allow you a good 20 minutes to get down the path. The path is narrow, roughly paved, and with a few stairs. If walking down the steep half mile isn’t a problem, walking back up after the tour might be. There is no wheelchair access. If you are handicapped or elderly or for any other reason would have a tough time climbing a long way up a steep hill, you shouldn’t attempt this tour. The path itself is pretty with a waterfall running alongside it, but honestly, if it's scenery you are looking for check out one of the real park trails. There are lots of beautiful options.
4) Once inside the cave, the lighting at your feet isn’t that great. If you are still young and spry you'll be fine with it. But you are walking on an unfamiliar, paved, often steep, and sometimes wet path. You are told not to touch the walls. That would be fine except it is an unfamiliar, paved, often steep, and sometimes wet path! There are only a few handrails. The group is encouraged to walk quickly and they do. I am no spring chicken, but I am not particularly helpless either and although it did not appear to be slippery, I was nervous that I might slip. Be sure to wear decent shoes. This is not a place for flip flops. You might also want a light jacket if the cool 50-ish temp will bother you. I wore a long sleeved t-shirt and was fine.
5) The guide was knowledgeable, interesting, and well-versed but the cave tour really isn’t very good mostly because it is so short. You get some info just inside the mouth of the cave. You enter the first room and get a few stories there. Then you climb up into a second room where you hear some more cave lore and experience what it is like with all the lights turned out. Over and out. You are led back to the first room where you are left to make your way out the cave entrance and back to your car.
The cave is filled with stalactites and stalagmites which are interesting, but hardly worth all of the time and trouble it takes to see them for those few minutes. Frankly, I was too busy carefully watching my feet as we hurried through the cave to even see most of the formations I was passing. There might be other tour options available that would be more worthwhile, but as far as the standard tour goes I have to say “skip it.”
Crystal Cave is an interesting attraction in Sequoia National Park; it is an example of - the journey is better than the destination. The half mile hike to the cave entrance is worth by itself. I wish the National Park allows people to go on the hike without having to visit the cave (which has entrance fees). The trail is very well maintained and is beautiful all the way down to the cave. One could stop on the way up and enjoy the several substantial waterfalls.
As far as the cave itself, it is not quite up to par with other caves I have visited. Lot of the formations have been damaged, and are not well lighted. The walking path also could have used more lighting. But it was nice to hear a stream running through the cave, and pretty loudly at one point.
Crystal Cave tour is pretty popular, so make sure you have reservations before driving the six miles or so gravel road. If you go early, and if openings are available they will take you on an earlier tour. As with most cave tours, a jacket will keep you warm inside the cave. I recommend making Crystal Cave a destination if not for the cave itself, for other interests such as the hike, the waterfalls and the drive.
The guided tour was very informative and the cave itself is really pretty and interesting. Our tour guide was informative and funny. It's a 300+ foot walk (on paved path) down to cave and then, oh yes, gotta walk back up after. My husband and I (63 and 60) managed it, but we were huffing and puffing on the way back up. Definitely worth the price of admission which I believe was $16 per person. Something you just don't see everyday.
We visited the cave this past 8/2018 and it was a pretty short tour in my eyes. I've been to other caves/caverns in other locations and left there extremely impressed. What was more impressive to me was the hike down to the cave. The waterfalls were amazing and the view hiking down to the cave was amazing. I don't know why they don't encourage tourists to wear a headlamp if they have it. Most of the time we were walking in very dim lighting that we would run into puddles and wet, slippery ground. As a matter of fact, it was so slippery that I slipped and fell and now can barely type this because I sprained my wrist. Other than that, the guide was very knowledgeable with the information he shared. I just think $30 is a little too much for this type of tour, but that's me. Maybe provide a government or California resident discount? :)
We visited Sequoia National Park at the end of June. I had wanted to tour Boyden Cavern, but it has been closed since 2015 when a wildfire damaged the infrastructure necessary to provide cave tours. Instead, we booked a tour of Crystal Cave, which as it happens was much closer to our hotel.
The road to the cave doesn't open until 9 a.m. We weren't sure how much time it would take us to get from the park entrance near Three Rivers to the cave road because of all the roadwork on the Generals Highway, so we gave ourselves plenty of time. It took us 45 minutes to get from Buckeye Tree Lodge (just outside the Foothills entrance to Sequoia Nat'l Park) to the cave road, and then another thirty minutes on the cave road to get to the cave tour parking lot. We wound up arriving an hour and a half early for our 11 a.m. tour. They put us on a waiting list, and we were able to get in on the 10 a.m. tour.
The tour begins with a pretty walk past a waterfall and down to the cave entrance. It is about 1/2 mile long, and is a steep hike back up to the parking lot, but there are plenty of places to stop and rest along the way.
The tour itself lasted about an hour. The temperature in the cave is 50 degrees F, and jackets were advised. But we just wore tee shirts and jeans, and were plenty comfortable. In fact, it was a nice break from the 100 degree weather outside the cave.
There are rattlesnakes and poison oak along the path to the cave, so straying from the path is not permitted nor recommended. We took the family tour. Cave features were illuminated with spot lighting, but the pathway through the cave is not lighted. My old eyes don't see that well in the dark, and in retrospect, I wished that I'd taken a small flashlight so that I could see where I was walking. The path is damp and can be slippery, so a good set of hiking shoes is recommended.
The guide was a park ranger. He was excellent -- funny and affable without being corny or annoying. Very professional and informative.
A few tips if you decide to go:
*If you take a sweatshirt or jacket, you are required to wear it once inside the cave. You can't throw it over your shoulder or wrap it around your waist.
*There are restrooms in the parking lot, but none down at the cave.
*There is also a souvenir stand at the parking lot level, where you can buy a long-sleeved shirt if you have a last minute change of heart regarding your chosen apparel for the tour.
*Bags and backpacks aren't allowed in the cave. You can either leave them in your car or stow them just outside the cave if you want to have them with you on the hike to and from the cave. While the area seemed secure, you probably want to keep your valuables in your pockets or locked in your car rather than leaving them outside the cave during the tour.
*If you have any food, ice chests, or toiletries in your car, you are required to stash them in bear-proof storage bins in the parking lot as a precaution. The area's bears are not shy about breaking into vehicles. We bagged up the Powerbait and fish attractant from our tackle box as well as sunscreen and chapstick and put it in one of the storage boxes. If we'd known about the bear problems ahead of time, we would have just left this stuff in our hotel room.
*Visitors are advised to allow one hour to get through the park entrance on weekends. We were there on one of the busiest weekends of the year (before July 4th) and there were only three cars ahead of us at the park entrance right after the gates opened for the day. We have a National Park Pass, so we got in without delay.
*Due to ongoing road construction on the Generals Highway, you probably want to inquire at one of the ranger stations regarding current conditions and possible delays.
Do it! So unique in a national park. Staff was friendly, informative, and helpful. We had Evan and it made all the difference with his humor. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get there. We drove from John Muir Lodge and it took us 1 hour and 20 mins. The drive from Generals Hwy to Crystal Cave can get narrow and windy since you're descending down. It feels longer than 20 minutes. More like 30 minutes. Your tour actually starts 30 minutes after your time on the ticket. Book 2 days in advance for best availability. We went at 12pm. Go earlier for smaller groups. The group before us had 25. We had 50!!
Visited crystal caves in June 2018
Really loved this place. There is plenty of parking and very friendly staff. Nice waterfall near the caves
Better to buy tickets in advance
There's a lot of great reviews for people already here but I wanted add something more specific--I'm a big guy. 300 lbs, 5'11. Big. I was SCARED TO DEATH based on the other reviews that there would be places I wouldn't be able to get through or that I'd have a tough time on the hike there or back. I'm pleased to report that I had no difficulty whatsoever. My family and I took the family tour (appropriately enough) and it covers about three beautiful rooms with plenty of time to see everything and enjoy everything. I'd like to come back and do the adventure tour someday when I lose weight. Our guide, Jocelyn, was wonderful and knowledgeable. High recommended and don't panic if you're big!
The caves were beautiful, kind of a mini-Carlsbad Caverns if you have been there. So many amazing formations to see. Lovely (and very steep) walk down along waterfalls. Fun and informative guides tell you all about the caves, even a few minutes of "lights out" to see what it was like when they discovered the caves.
Our large group of 19 adults and children did the 10:30 am family tour. The one thing I could not find out ANYWHERE (including Trip Advisor) was exactly how long it would take to do the tour, including hiking down from the starting point and back up from the caves. We were trying to meet up with the rest of our group after the tour, who were elsewhere in the park, so I had to guess how long it would take us and tell them we would meet them at a certain time, as there is no cell coverage in this part of the park. Well I was WAY OFF (like 2 hours). So to help others, here is exactly how to figure out how long it will take you.
Google the drive from wherever you are in the park to the Crystal Caves (obviously you need to be somewhere where there is a signal), and then add 15 minutes for all the people who have never driven a mountain road before and are likely to be poking along right in front of you. The tour time they give you is for when your tour guide gathers your group together at the top of the trail. But the actual time you will start your tour is 30 MINUTES LATER, at the entrance to the caves. Now add the time your tour takes (ours was 45 minutes) then add however long it would take you to trudge back up the steep trail (healthy folks about 15 minutes). Then add the drive time again to get where you want to go after the tour.
If you have a disability like me ( I walk with a cane), you will likely be intimidated by all the people on here saying how hard the hike is. And it is not easy by any means -- it is VERY CHALLENGING. But I had my whole family with me and I wanted to do it, so me and my cane walked VERY SLOWLY all the way down and all the way back up. It took me 30 minutes each way, which is very slow. But hey, I did it. So don't let people scare you off if you are determined to give it a try.