Moaning Cavern Park
Murphys CA 95247
- Mon: 10am-4pm
- Tue: 10am-4pm
- Wed: 10am-4pm
- Thu: 10am-4pm
- Fri: 10am-4pm
- Sat: 9am-5pm
- Sun: 9am-5pm
Moaning Cavern Park is home to an underground cave that is so large it could fit the entire statue of liberty in its main chamber. Besides offering various tours of the cave system itself, the park is also home to twin 1,500-feet zip lines and a 32-feet tall custom rock climbing tower. This place is basically the definition of "Adventure."
Parking and public transportation at Moaning Cavern Park
No public transportation is available in the immediate area but there is plenty of free parking onsite. Moaning Caverns is located a bit off the beaten path but it's an incredibly scenic region that lends itself to a relaxing drive. Take your time on the way there and soak in the sights.
Best and worst time to go to Moaning Cavern Park
As with other cave systems in the area, it is a very popular site for school field trips. Consequently, weekday mornings tend to be the worst time to visit between late August and early June. Weekends can occasionally get busy with visiting Boy Scout troops but the park management is extremely accommodating and encourages visitors to call ahead to confirm if any large groups have booked tours during their planned visit.
Admission to Moaning Cavern Park
With all the different types of tours offered, prices vary drastically (approximately $15 to $130 for an adult) inside the cave. Visitors have a choice of a basic 45 minute "Walk Tour" that takes them down 234 stairs (including down a giant 100-feet spiral staircase that was welded in the 1920s from the steel hull of a World War 1 battleship), a no-experience-required rappelling option that allows them to descend 165 feet down ropes into the main chamber of the cave or an in-depth 3-hour "Adventure Tour" that's available with or without the rappelling option. Outside activities include panning for gold and gemstones (which runs about $7), a custom rock climbing wall ($3-$5) and zip lines (approximately $44 with discounts for return trips on the same day or with use of a "Frequent Flyer" card). Bring your ID on your birthday for a free zip line or rappel.
Must see/do at Moaning Cavern Park
Although pricey at just over $100 per person, the park offers a Combo Ticket that's good for one zip line ride and one rappel. If you haven't tried one (or both) of these activities before, the ticket is a great deal and the experience is like no other. Not only is the staff incredibly informative and helpful at training and preparing each visitor, but their experience and patience really helps to eases beginner nerves. This is incredibly important because nothing says "butterflies in the stomach" like the idea of zipping down a 1500' line at speeds upwards of 40 mph, or dangling and lowering yourself over 100 feet into a giant cave. The amazing experiences (and unparalleled bragging rights) make it all completely worthwhile.
Other places to visit near Moaning Cavern Park
After a long day of adventuring, take a load off at El Jardin in nearby Murphys. This unassuming family-owned Mexican restaurant is a hidden oasis full of color and character, topped off with excellent food. Located next to a bustling creek and featuring a beautiful outdoor dining patio and indoor colorful mosaics, they offer the perfect environment to relax and have fun while you dine. Lunch combos are offered during the week, which provide an excellent value for the budget-minded who don't want to compromise on flavor and quality. Like with most family-run businesses, have patience because the popularity of the restaurant can sometimes bog down the kitchen and wait staff. The food is definitely worth the wait though.
Insider tip for visitors to Moaning Cavern Park
If you are traveling with a baby in tow, it may be prudent to invest in a front-positioned baby carrier before you visit. Moaning Cavern, like most cave systems in the area, strictly prohibits wearing children and babies in carriers on your back (like a backpack). Some areas of the cave have low head clearance, requiring visitors to duck around low-hanging rocks which could pose a serious risk of injury to a back-positioned baby. Carriers worn in front of the adult are always allowed though.
Author's bio: Ann Milligan is a wife, mom, author and artist who resides in California's beautiful Motherlode region. She can often be found painting the local wildflowers, singing off-pitch with her kids and nom-nom-noming.