650 steps later and lived to tell about it

looking out to the Lake between the trees 

Friday I got the great idea to go over to Shasta Caverns for a geologic adventure.  I booked tickets online for the Saturday morning tour at 10am!  

A 2-hour tour. 

In the 16 years of living here, we still had not yet made the tour. We're only 20 miles from our house to the Caverns. There was always something - extreme heat, fires, covid, state mandate, more fires, and more extreme heat. Not to mention, at least half of our time here has been spent in drought - Lake Shasta is beautiful when it is full but reminds me of a moonscape when it's almost empty. 

This was the year to go! 

For the first part of the tour, we head out to the boat for a 10-15 minute ride on the lake over to the Caverns. I really enjoyed being out on the lake - it was thrilling to see the lake levels so high. 

Over there, within that mountain, is the Caverns - which are a network of caves located near the McCloud Arm of Shasta Lake and date back at least 200 million years, formed by flowing water. 

We had a total of 17 in our group - we were the only locals - the rest were from the Bay Area or Sacramento, and one couple was from Idaho. 

10 am is the best time to go - fewer crowds plus as our days get hotter, it's cooler. 

On the other side, we went by bus, up a very narrow road - the only road on this side so no worries about another vehicle using the same road. If you are afraid of heights, then don't sit on the right-hand side - because it is looking straight down and at times, it looks precarious. 

Note: If you click on the photo and look toward the left-hand side, there is the Pit River Bridge   - you can see how high the lake is - 

Looking toward the other side - 

By clicking on the photo 2 times, you will see 3 bridges. 

Dang, no wonder this is California's largest reservoir.  

It's huge and this is just a small part of the lake. It has other large areas -

I love the craggy mountains - 

We're almost there - 

Made entirely of limestone, these caves feature every type of possible formation, including stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, crystals, columns, and flowstone. 

The caverns were lovely and fascinating.

The caverns were part of life for the Wintu Indians, who lived in the area. In the 1870s, a fish hatchery and small town were built on the McCloud River and the cave was named Baird Cave.

A hatchery employee, J.A. Richardson, officially discovered the caverns in 1878. Since 1964, they have been open as a natural attraction to the public.

From tiny cave coral and gravity-defying helicities to magnificent cave drapery, there is so much to see! 

Inside the caves, it is a constant 58 degrees year-round. Never changes. When our temperatures get to 100+ degrees, this is a welcome reprieve. 

Due to the water always in the caves - humidity is high so it feels like it is 69-70 which is perfect. Just wear a hat - due to the water that drips off the stalactites

There is so much "cave stuff" to see and I couldn't keep up with taking photos and climbing the steps. 

Inside the cave, there are 650 abnormally steep steps - all going up. No place to rest - and with a group of people behind you, you can't stop. There is no place for them to go around you. 

At first, I was full of vim and vigor - like the teacher's pet, I was right behind the guide - wanting to hear all about the cave.  We came to the halfway part and she warned us, that it was going to get steeper - so now was the time to go back and watch the rest of the tour on a video in the lounge - I thought about it but decided at the cost of this - I'm getting my money's worth! ($80 per person) 

No one left and so we proceeded - 

then came the mother of all steep steps - the steepest, slippery, narrowest steps - all 80 steps in a row. 

Okay, I can do that! 

Well, I did it, but toward the end of it, I asked my husband to help me up the steps by pushing my behind. There was just nowhere to go - I had to do it.  My knee, the one I had the knee replacement a few years ago held up well. It was my thighs, hips, and my butt.  


After that, even 10 steps in a row, were hard for me. 

Paying attention to only myself, I do recall hearing a lot of moaning and a few curse words from the others on our tour. 

I was sweating bullets as my Daddy used to say - I'm glad I didn't overdress in warm clothes like the others who were peeling off layers of clothing just to get cool.  But I did it! Granted I started out at the first of the line and after those 80 freakin steps, I was the one lagging behind. I didn't care! 

There was a landing where people took pictures, caught their breath - and I sat on a bench that had a puddle of water on it. I didn't care. It felt so cold- refreshing and just what I needed. 

The last big "room" as they call it, had several hundred bats - adults and little babies. So darn cute. Did I ever mention I like bats? 

I hobbled back onto the treacherous bus - and back over to the boat and then across the lake (which I enjoyed again, especially with the wet bottom and cooling breezes) and then back to where we started. There were still more steps to take - fortunately, there were ramps, so walking up the ramps was easier than those darn steps. 

Came home, showered, and then crashed. 

All in all, it made for a fun, morning, and quite the workout!

Hope you enjoyed the adventure. 




  1. Wow, I've been wanting to take this journey. I will have to do this someday. I'm glad you got to experience it. So much history, and the caves are really neat. My mother-in-law is from this area, and her heritage is Wintu. Isn't that something that the caves inside stay the same degrees all the time? I didn't realize there were that many steep steps. That must have been a hard climb, but that's impressive that you made it that far. Although the bats would have freaked me out a bit haha. This sounds like such a fun thing to do. And I'm glad you shared a little about it, cause I didn't know what to expect. The water photos are really pretty, by the way.


    1. The bats stayed where they were - looking at us upside down with their big eyes. They were high enough away - plus they are nocturnal - they were sleeping or at least trying to.

      If you want to do this - I'd train for it, but climbing up as many steps as you can. I don't have stairs in my home - and when I think about it, I don't climb many stairs - there just are not any around here. I could have walked it fine but those skinny steep stairs were freaky. If anyone is claustrophobic - they might have a challenge.

  2. Wow! I was with you the whole time until the steps. I am sure I couldn't have done it. Good for you. Did you have to go down all those steps too?
    The lake is gorgeous! And you taught me something today. I knew you could click the pics to enlarge, but never knew you could click twice and enlarge even more. :)

    1. No going down - it was up up up all the way out to the other cave opening.

  3. We went to the caverns back when I was a kid and we were camping at the lake. I didn't remember all the steps but then again I was a kid so probably they didnt even tire me out at all. I remember the guide showing us some metal laddens that was used for iniations. I was surprised by the ticket prices these days.

    1. There was 2 little ones on the tour - one was around 2-3 and had to be carried at times - I felt bad for the mom and the other skipped up the stairs. lol.

  4. What amazing photos and what a bloody good experience, something in years gone by I would have liked