Gold Country mines, caves and caverns include deserted gold mines from the 49er era, secluded natural caverns and tunnels carved by water. Gold Country caves, caverns and mines are all uniquely interesting. Walk deep into the 16 to 1 Mine or view the 3-dimensional model of Empire Mine. Descend a towering spiral staircase or rappel into Moaning Cavern. Find the beautiful underground lakes at California Cavern. Gold panning and gemstone mining are available at several of these attractions. Most caves and mines hover around 60 degrees year round, making these underground attractions a great place to cool off on a warm summer day.
WARNING: Caves & mines can be dangerous and deadly. Please use caution and common sense when exploring caves. Don't enter caves without a light source and necessary safety equipment. Choose not to explore a cave if in doubt and stay alive.
WHITE-NOSE SYNDROME: Bat populations in the U.S. are suffering devastating losses due to White-Nose Syndrome. Learn about this disease before entering caves and see what you can do to prevent its spread.
Gold Country Caves, Caverns & Mines
The 16 to 1 Mine is located south of Highway 49 from Downieville. The Underground Gold Miners Museum features the 16 to 1 Mine, working stamp mill and museum with artifacts related to the Alleghany Mining District. They offer an extensive tour into the mine on select dates. The stamp mill is functional and turned on for tours.
Underground Gold Miners Museum
Alleghany Mining Museum
356 Main Street
Alleghany, CA 95910
Hiller Tunnel is located 11 miles north of Nevada City in Malakoff Diggins State Park. Malakoff Diggins is the site of a former hydraulic strip mining operation. Local streams were harnessed and used to wash entire mountains away in pursuit of gold. This process was eventually banned but not before suffering the scars that are evident at Malakoff Diggins. Tunnels were carved through the bedrock to drain the water away from the mining operation. Hiller Tunnel is the remaining accessible tunnel open for exploration. Access Hiller Tunnel via the Diggins Loop or Humbug Creek Trails. At 557 feet in length, be sure to bring a good flashlight and shoes that can get wet. The North Bloomfield Tunnel was 7,878 feet in length and has since filled with water and debris.
Malakoff Diggins State Park
23579 North Bloomfield Road
Nevada City, CA 95959
(530) 265-2740 Map |
Empire Mine is located at the intersection of Highways 20 and 49 northeast of Sacramento. Empire Mine was one of the oldest, largest, deepest, longest and richest gold mines in California. This State Historic Park includes the owner's home & gardens, original mine buildings & equipment and a museum. The 3 dimensional model of the 367 miles of shafts below the surface is impressive.
Empire Mine State Historic Park
10791 East Empire Street
Grass Valley, CA 95959
Gold Bug Mine is located off Bedford Avenue in Placerville. A self guided mine tour approximately 100 yards into an actual gold mine offers numbered markers with mine tutorials. Visitors are required to wear hard hats due to the low ceiling in some points. Views through shafts into total blackness. Also at the mine is a stamp mill where granite rocks from the mine were pounded for processing. Local historians are on-hand to answer questions and give interesting facts. Gold panning available.
Gold Bug Mine
2635 Goldbug Lane
Placerville, California 95667
Kennedy Mine is located off Highway 49 just north of Jackson. Established during the Gold Rush, Kennedy was famous for being the deepest mine. The Kennedy Mine is open on weekends for surface tours of the mine office, stamp mill, tailing wheels, a steam boiler and head frame. The head frame was used to drop miners nearly a mile underground to active mine shafts. A gift shop shows an educational video and sells gold mine related memorabilia.
Masonic Caves are located near the intersection of Highways 104 and 88 in the town of Volcano. These limestone caves were once used for secret meetings by Masons. They consist of different levels and vary in size and shape. Several cave openings lead into caves that honeycomb throughout the hill. The highlight is the beautiful moss that covers the cave entrances making for very picturesque shots.
TIP: Caves are accessed by walking through the yard of a private residence, which is kind of strange, but we were greeted and welcomed through by the owners. Don't be shy to walk through to the back because it's worth exploring.
Pine Grove-Volcano Road
Volcano, California 95689
Black Chasm is located near the intersection of Highways 104 and 88 in the town of Volcano. This multi-room cavern is a National Natural Landmark and features stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones and rare helictite crystals. Considered the "best helictite cave in the west". A 50-minute tour traverses the cave including a suspended walkway that overlooks portions of an underground lake. Take the Labyrinth Tour for a real adventure and rappel, climb and crawl throughout the cave. Above ground is a large visitor center, picnic area and gemstone mining & gold panning opportunities.
15701 Pioneer-Volcano Road
Volcano, California, 95689
California Cavern is located off Highway 49 going east on Mountain Ranch Road out of San Andreas. Perhaps the most adventurous of all caverns, this cave's highlights are its underground lakes. Choose from 3 different tours starting with a one-hour walking tour to a five-hour raft tour. One cave tour has you crawling, climbing and sliding through the many passageways throughout the cave system. Features include helictite crystals, stalactites, flowstones and crystal flowers. Showers are available above ground along with a picnic area and gemstone mining opportunities.
9565 Cave City Road
Mountain Ranch, California 95246
Mercer Caverns is located off Highway 4 near the town of Murphys. Make a right on Sheep Ranch Road near the end of Main Street in Murphys. This three million year old limestone cavern is accessible by 45-minute cave tour. Descend stairs equivalent to a 16-story building to the main cavern.
Moaning Cavern is located off Highway 4 between the towns of Murphys & Angels Camp in Vallecito. From Highway 4, head south on Parrots Ferry Road and right on Moaning Cave Road. This is the largest vertical cave in California and could fit the Statue of Liberty. Choose from 3 exploration options including an open air rope rappel to the cave floor 165 feet below. The walking cave tour descends 234 steps via a spiral staircase. Guests are also welcome to explore the many chambers and passages by crawling, squeezing and climbing their way through the cave. Along with a picnic area, opportunities for gemstone mining and the cavern store, more adventure awaits up top including a climbing tower, suspension bridge and zip lines.
Natural Bridges is located off Highway 4 near the town of Angels Camp. Head east on Parrots Ferry Road and watch for the trailhead parking approximately 3 miles down. A short trail leads down to the Stanislaus River where a tunnel cave can be found. Depending on river level, it's possible to swim or raft through the cave.
Parrots Ferry Road
Angels Camp, California 95222