While the cave formations in Crystal Cave in Sequoia National Park (CA) are undoubtedly wonderful, there is also a man made part of Crystal Cave that is bound to attract your attention. Before you enter Crystal Cave, you will pass through a spiderweb gate. With the cave formations all around, the spiderweb gate, which contains several hundred pounds of steel, gives the cave the feel of entering a haunted house:
In the center of the spiderweb gate is a spider that weighs in at 19 pounds and has the appearance that it is almost as popular to touch as Touching Rock:
When you get information about what is allowed and not allowed when exploring Crystal Cave in Sequoia National Park (CA), one point that will be repeated is that you’re not allowed to touch the cave formations within Crystal Cave. Touching the cave formation damages them. When you touch any formation, oils from your hands are transferred to the formations which could inhibit their continued growth. Crystal Cave is a living cave and is still actively growing.
Since there’s certainly a desire by many people to touch the cave formations, there is a Touching Rock at the cave entrance which you can see and touch. This hopefully gets the touching urge out of your system (or at least allows you to resist while in the cave). Millions of people who have entered Crystal Cave have done so by first putting their hands on the Touching Rock:
About three-fourths of the way down the trail to get to the entrance of Crystal Cave in Sequoia National Park (CA) you will come to the Cascade River and Cascade Falls. The Cascade River runs just outside Crystal Cave (not through it — Yucca Creek runs through Crystal Cave and empties into the Cascade River) and has a number of short falls that can be seen as you descend down the path which offer wonderful photo opportunities.
The hike down the Crystal Cave trail to the cave entrance takes about 10 – 15 minutes, but you may want to add more time in so that you can spend some time taking photos along the way without being rushed.
In order to enter Crystal Cave in Sequoia National Park (CA), you will need to purchase a ticket ($13 for adults, $7 for children ages 5 – 12. The America the Beautiful annual national parks pass does not cover the cost of the tickets). These tickets are not available at the cave entrance. Tickets to Crystal Cave must be purchased at either Lodgepole visitors center or Foothills visitor center. At the parking lot at crystal caves, there is a ranger station where you will need to present your ticket before making a half mile walk to the Crystal Cave entrance. You are not allowed to go into Crystal Cave except within a tour group and the tour lasts approximately 45 minutes.
When you reach the bottom of the half mile Crystal Cave trail, you will be at the entrance of Crystal Cave and you’ll immediately see that you are in for an exciting tour. The Crystal Cave entrance is rather large with plenty of cave formations already visible and the sounds of Yucca Creek as it runs out the cave. You will meet your tour group at the entrance, and the ranger will go over vital information about the cave tour as well as what is allowed and what is not. Day packs are fine, but larger backpacks will need to be left at the cave entrance.
Even before you get to the entrance of Crystal Cave at Sequoia National Park (CA), there are sights to see. In order to reach the Crystal cave entrance, there is a half mile walk down a paved path that descends the equivalent of a 30 story building (which also means you need to walk up it once the cave tour is over). Half way down you come to a sign that talks about Marble Ridge which can bee seen across the valley from where you stand. The sign states:
Marble Ridge: Beyond is the ridge of marble which Crystal Cave is formed. Behind you is an extension of the same outcrop. Steeply tilted beds of marble, schist, quartzite, and other metamorphic rocks trend northwestward across the upper foothills of the park. They are the remnants of the ancestral Sierra Nevada which was eroded to a low land long before the uplift of the present range. These rocks and the granite that was intruded into them may be observed along the trail.
While driving toward the large Sequoia trees at Sequoia National Park (CA), it’s worth making a stop at Hospital Rock to see the Indian pictographs (the largest Indian village within Sequoia National Park was located here). Simply park in the Hospital Rock picnic area and cross the street (just to the left of the paved road that leads to Buckeye Flat camping ground). There are about 10 steps (that’s all) that will lead you to hospital Rock and an area on the side of the rock that is protected from the elements and has bright red pictographs: