Road Trip

Crystal Cave, a Sequoia Gem, Is Both Cool and Cool to Visit

Pack a jacket on your summer road trip if you plan to visit this subterranean wonderland.

Sequoia Parks Conservancy

What to Know

  • Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
  • Tickets must be purchased ahead of time
  • The cave boasts a half-mile loop trail, but note that there is a "steep half-mile walk" to the cave (and, of course, back to your vehicle)

STALAGTITE OR STALAGMITE? Whatever memory tricks, cute rhymes, or handy notes you use to keep cave-based terminology at the ready, you don't need much prompting to remember this literally cool fact: Subterranean spaces have a way of staying on the chillier side, even when above-the-surface temperatures soar at the height of summer. Which means that showing up at the mouth of a cave with a jacket in hand or a sweatshirt tied around your waist, even on a triple-digit July day? It's the way to go, especially if you're thinking of road-tripping to Crystal Cave. The stalagtite-y, statalagmite-y, oh-so-spectacular cave, which is located in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, reopened at the end of May 2021, once again giving visitors a chance to reconnect with one of our state's most unearthly, but very much of this planet, places.

A FEW THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND? The loop that wends its way around the cave measures about a half a mile, and you'll walk about that far to the cave's entrance, meaning you'll also need to strut that same distance, back to your car, when your tour is done. So all told? You'll be covering at least a mile and a half while visiting. And the stretch that's outside of the cave? It's described as "steep," so keep that in mind and don the appropriate footwear. The tour runs at just under an hour, so think 50 minutes, and you should soak up all sorts of facts and fantastical sights while there.

SEQUOIA PARKS CONSERVANCY... helms these tours, which wrap up annually when things get chillier on the surface (so, yep, autumn is when these amazing look-arounds wind down for the season). Do keep in mind that you'll need your mask, and purchasing your ticket in advance is the way to go. Something sweet? The summer of 2021 is shaping up to be a special one for the tree-advocating organization. The group just announced that "... actor Martin Henderson of 'Grey's Anatomy' fame and Grammy Award-winning musician Avi Kaplan have joined SPC's newly launched ambassador program to help fundraise, advocate, and educate on behalf of the Conservancy." For more about the SPC's programming, fundraising, and the magic of the tall trees, click.

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