Crystal Cave#6 in Best Things To Do in Sequoia National Park
While the towering trees are the superstars of Sequoia National Park, there are plenty of other amazing places to explore. Crystal Cave is one not to miss, according to travelers, many of whom call it a surprise highlight of their visit. The subterranean marble cavern is filled with stalactites and stalagmites. It also features all sorts of colorful minerals, forming blue, green, yellow, black, white, orange and red deposits and formations along walls, ceilings and floors of caves, which often surprises visitors.
Once underground, cave naturalists guide visitors through the cave along a half-mile trail, explaining the formations and at one point, turn off all the lights for an eerie glimpse at the subterranean space in the dark.
The cave is located near the Giant Forest on Crystal Cave Road, down a curvy, winding road. Signs direct drivers how to get to the parking area. It takes about 30 minutes to drive from the Giant Forest Museum to the parking lot. The marble cavern, which can only accessed via a steep half-mile walk from the parking area, is open from mid-May through September. Visitors have to book a guided tour in advance, as tickets are not sold at the cave.
There are a variety of tours, from a family tour (for all ages) to a more adventurous discovery tour (for ages 12 and older) to an even more adventurous wild cave tour (for ages 16 and older), where visitors go off the trail and even crawl on their stomachs through narrow passageways. Tickets start at $16 for ages 13 and up on the family tour, while tickets for children ages 5 to 12 are $8. The wild cave tour tickets are $135. Visit Explore Crystal Cave to book tickets.
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#1 Giant Forest
Visitors to the Giant Forest use a lot of the same words to describe it, including "awe-inspiring," "amazing" and a "must-see." The large sequoia grove is located between the Marble and Middle Forks of the Kaweah River and is home to more than 8,000 sequoias – the most of any other grove in the park.
Start your visit at the Giant Forest Museum, which offers an overview of the giant sequoias, meadows and human history in the region. The museum is housed in the historic Giant Forest market building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There are a series of hikes in the Giant Forest, ranging from short one-hour jaunts to daylong treks; the National Park service lists a few on its website. Visitors recommend longer hikes, such as the Alta Trail or the High Sierra Trail, to escape the crowds, especially in the summer. The Redwood Canyon and Muir Grove also great places for longer treks. The Giant Forest is also home to the famous General Sherman Tree, the largest living sequoia in the world.
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