Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
Crystal Cave was discovered in 1918 by two park trail construction employees who were fishing along Cascade Creek on their day off. Walter Fry, a former Park Superintendent and caving enthusiast, led the first exploration party into the cave on April 30, 1918.
In 1925 Fry wrote:
"It is in this cave that nature has lavishly traced her design in decorative glory. Throughout the entire cave the stalactite formations are rich and wonderfully varied in size, form, and color. In some of the chambers the ceiling is a mass of stalactites, some very large, others tapering down to needle points. Others drop down from the roof (in) great folds of massive draperies, while yet others are great fluted columns of stalagmites of surpassing symmetry and beauty."
Anyone wishing to visit Crystal Cave must be part of a guided tour. Tour tickets are not sold at the cave entrance. They must be purchased in advance at Foothills or Lodgepole visitor centers in Sequoia National Park. After purchasing tickets allow 1 1/2 hours to arrive at the cave.
Location: Crystal Cave is located off the Generals Highway in Sequoia National Park, between the Ash Mountain entrance and Giant Forest. To reach the cave, drive down the scenic, winding, paved road to the cave parking lot. Hike down the half-mile trail along beautiful Cascade Creek, where you will be met by a guide at the cave entrance. The cave is not wheelchair accessible.
No buses, trailers, or vehicles over 20 feet long are permitted on Crystal Cave Road. Vans are acceptable.
Before passing through the Spider Web Gate, your guide will give a brief history of the cave and point out the unique formations and features. During the 45-minute tour, you will be led from room to room on paved lighted pathways, pausing to listen to the water and echoes in the cave in total darkness.
Tours are limited to 70 people. The temperature in the cave is a constant 48 degrees F (9 degrees C). Sweaters or jackets are recommended. No strollers, tripods, or backpacks are allowed in the cave.
Wild cave tours, led by Sequoia Natural History Association guides, allow you to explore the deep recesses of the cave in areas closed to the general public. Tours are limited to six people. Selection is by lottery. For more information about wild cave tours, contact the Sequoia National History Assocation (559-565-3759).
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication