Top Ten U.S. Caves
Moaning Cavern was discovered and abandoned in approximately 1851 by disappointed gold miners. Rediscovered in 1919, legend has it that Moaning Cavern's first tourists were lowered into the huge chamber—large enough to hold the Statue of Liberty—by ore buckets, with just candles or whale-oil lamps to light their way. Moaning Cavern was named for the sound created by drops of water falling into flowstone formations' bottle-shape holes. The resultant drumming sound echoes throughout the cavern and sounded like a distant moaning to early explorers.
For a taste of real spelunking, the Wild Cavern Adventure Trip takes visitors on a three-hour tour of undeveloped areas of the cave—no lights, stairs, or walkways. Cavers must climb, crawl, and rappel up steep walls, through tight passageways, and down deep holes, equipped with miner's helmets to light the way.
Just the Facts
Open: All year
Cave temperature: 61° Fahrenheit year-round
Location: Central California, east of San Francisco
For more information: Call Sierra Nevada Recreation Corp at (209) 736-2708
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication