Mitchell Caverns Tour in Mojave National Preserve

The Mitchell Caverns in Providence State Park are one of the only show caves in Southern California. They finally reopened after being closed for over five years, and if you haven’t explored them, do it now. The caves are only accessible via a guided tour that happens two days a week and is hard to book, but it consists of 1.5 – 2 hours of exploring the caves and learning about the area’s history. Here is all the information.

Details

  • $10 per person for the tour and $10 to park
  • Must call to get on a tour, they told me you could only call on Mondays currently. More information here.
  • Location: 38200 Essex Rd, Essex, CA 92332

Getting There

From Southern California, it is a long drive to get out to Mitchell Caverns, and I would recommend you consider spending the night at Hole in the Wall Campground or something so you can make the most of your time.

Take the 15 North to Barstow then head East on the 40 Freeway. It’s about an hour and a half from Barstow with no gas or food so get what you need before leaving Barstow. When you get to Essex Rd, you will get off and head north into Mojave National Preserve. Follow signs to the caverns and park in the lot.

The Tour

Since it is so far away, we ended up getting there about 40 minutes early. We took the time to explore the small visitors center they have, as well as walked around on the short trail to see cactus and a few historical plaques. There are two bathrooms here as well.

When it was time for the tour to start, they gathered up the 15 of us and started by telling us the history of the area and the Mitchell’s who ran the cave.

The short history is that the Mitchells moved out here in 1934 and they ran the caves as a desert resort and Route 66 attraction for 20 years. Jack built all of the stone buildings here and gave cave tours himself. He also developed the road that got here from Route 66, which was 22 miles. They left in 1954 when they were both in their 70’s, and that is when it was sold to the state parks system.

After learning this history, we headed out on the trail for about a third of a mile hike to where the cave is.

Along the way, we stopped multiple times to learn about the plant and animal life as well as the gold mines that were here. Lots of the plants and animals in this area are only found in this location and not anywhere else in the world. It is called a sky island.

When you round the bend and see the two eyes which are the entrance to the cave, it is a pretty cool sight.

After crossing the small bridge, you will be walking up a hill and will then reach the cave entrance.

The Caverns

From here the tour gets incredible and you spend the next 45 minutes or so in the cave.

The formations here are mind-blowing, featuring a column, which is a connected stalactite and stalagmites. Only 1 in 4,000 caves have a connecting piece like this.

The cave has many rooms that you will get a chance to spend time in and learn more about. I was fascinated by how impressive this cave was to explore; it was much better then I expected.

There are also formations called cave shields here, and they are only found in 60 caves in the USA.

The tour goes up and down stairs, through small tunnels and into large rooms, it’s fantastic.

We also learned about some of the animal life in here including the packrat, you can see his nest in the below photo.

The tour ended in the large room in the second part of the cave. This room was massive and let in some light, so it was easy to see without the man-added lights in the cave.

When you leave the cave, it is about a half mile back to where you parked, completing your time at Providence Mountains.

I loved my time at this park, I am so glad it is open again, and I hope others get a chance to explore this unique Southern California site. Let me know what you think if you go in the comments.

Mitchell Caverns Tour in Mojave National Preserve

The Mitchell Caverns in Providence State Park are one of the only show caves in Southern California. They finally reopened after being closed for over five years, and if you haven’t explored them, do it now. The caves are only accessible via a guided tour that happens two days a week and is hard to book, but it consists of 1.5 – 2 hours of exploring the caves and learning about the area’s history. Here is all the information.

Details

  • $10 per person for the tour and $10 to park
  • Must call to get on a tour, they told me you could only call on Mondays currently. More information here.
  • Location: 38200 Essex Rd, Essex, CA 92332

Getting There

From Southern California, it is a long drive to get out to Mitchell Caverns, and I would recommend you consider spending the night at Hole in the Wall Campground or something so you can make the most of your time.

Take the 15 North to Barstow then head East on the 40 Freeway. It’s about an hour and a half from Barstow with no gas or food so get what you need before leaving Barstow. When you get to Essex Rd, you will get off and head north into Mojave National Preserve. Follow signs to the caverns and park in the lot.

The Tour

Since it is so far away, we ended up getting there about 40 minutes early. We took the time to explore the small visitors center they have, as well as walked around on the short trail to see cactus and a few historical plaques. There are two bathrooms here as well.

When it was time for the tour to start, they gathered up the 15 of us and started by telling us the history of the area and the Mitchell’s who ran the cave.

The short history is that the Mitchells moved out here in 1934 and they ran the caves as a desert resort and Route 66 attraction for 20 years. Jack built all of the stone buildings here and gave cave tours himself. He also developed the road that got here from Route 66, which was 22 miles. They left in 1954 when they were both in their 70’s, and that is when it was sold to the state parks system.

After learning this history, we headed out on the trail for about a third of a mile hike to where the cave is.

Along the way, we stopped multiple times to learn about the plant and animal life as well as the gold mines that were here. Lots of the plants and animals in this area are only found in this location and not anywhere else in the world. It is called a sky island.

When you round the bend and see the two eyes which are the entrance to the cave, it is a pretty cool sight.

After crossing the small bridge, you will be walking up a hill and will then reach the cave entrance.

The Caverns

From here the tour gets incredible and you spend the next 45 minutes or so in the cave.

The formations here are mind-blowing, featuring a column, which is a connected stalactite and stalagmites. Only 1 in 4,000 caves have a connecting piece like this.

The cave has many rooms that you will get a chance to spend time in and learn more about. I was fascinated by how impressive this cave was to explore; it was much better then I expected.

There are also formations called cave shields here, and they are only found in 60 caves in the USA.

The tour goes up and down stairs, through small tunnels and into large rooms, it’s fantastic.

We also learned about some of the animal life in here including the packrat, you can see his nest in the below photo.

The tour ended in the large room in the second part of the cave. This room was massive and let in some light, so it was easy to see without the man-added lights in the cave.

When you leave the cave, it is about a half mile back to where you parked, completing your time at Providence Mountains.

I loved my time at this park, I am so glad it is open again, and I hope others get a chance to explore this unique Southern California site. Let me know what you think if you go in the comments.

Arroyo Tapiado Mud Caves in Anza Borrego State Park

Located deep in the southern section of Anza Borrego State Park, the Arroyo Tapiado Mud Caves are one of the most popular attractions. That being said, getting out to them requires 4 wheel drive and entering the caves is dangerous and should not be taken lightly. If you want to go, make sure you don’t go alone, take lots of water and bring a flashlight and helmet. If you are still with me and want to see the caves here is the info.

Details

  • 8 miles off the road on a 4×4 drive
  • Don’t go after rain as the caves are made of mud and can collapse

Getting There

If you want detailed directions I recommend checking out this site. That being said, I used Google Maps to navigate all the way to the caves since it is popular enough to be a point of interest on Google Maps. Don’t just rely on this though, do your research as you will be driving through the desert and there are no signs.

The Drive

After getting off on the main road, you will be driving along the dirt in a wash for most of the way. I would not recommend coming in a two-wheel drive car as it was OK in the beginning but much more sketchy at the end.

The road passes Palm Spring at about the 1.5-mile mark. You can drive up and see that if you would like, it has a small spring that has water seasonally and a historical marker.

Heading onward, you will want to keep your eyes peeled for the Hollywood and Vine sign on top of one of the hills to the left of where you are driving. It is easy to miss, but it is fun to see, so keep watch for it.

When you get to the sign, you can walk up the small hill to see the Hollywood and Vine sign that looks like something out of Mad Max.

Continuing on, you will reach another wash and will need to take a sharp left. There was a sign here when I went but you can’t always count on that being the case so again make sure to have a map and know where you are going.

Heading up this wash and into the canyon is where the 4×4 was really needed as there was lots of dips and loose rock/sand sections.

You will pass a plaque from the parks system that tells you about the caves and area.

The Caves

We eventually made it to the base of one of the main caves. This is the largest mud cave system in the world, so there are many out here, but no one has been able to map them all.

If you enter the caves please be careful as they are dangerous and can collapse, I recommend a light and helmet as you do not want to bump your head in the dark and often small caves. Also, make sure you come with someone else (I went with Chris from LastAdventurer.com) and that you never walk on the top of the caves (they can collapse, don’t do it).

The cave we entered was large and had about a half mile or so of dark.

There were two cave-ins that provided light while we made our way through the cave.

These were awesome as it gave you a break from the monotony of the darkness and offered cool photo opportunities.

Eventually, the cave opened back up and entered into a canyon.

It was fun to walk through this section as well as some of the areas were very narrow, and it was like a slot canyon.

There was even a small mud arch to see here, but I wouldn’t guess that it would be there much longer with how small it was getting.

After exploring for about an hour, we made our way back out of the canyon and cave and started the long drive back to the road. This is an out of the way spot that requires a real adventure just to get to, but if you are careful, it can be a fun place to explore. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Arroyo Tapiado Mud Caves in Anza Borrego State Park

Located deep in the southern section of Anza Borrego State Park, the Arroyo Tapiado Mud Caves are one of the most popular attractions. That being said, getting out to them requires 4 wheel drive and entering the caves is dangerous and should not be taken lightly. If you want to go, make sure you don’t go alone, take lots of water and bring a flashlight and helmet. If you are still with me and want to see the caves here is the info.

Details

  • 8 miles off the road on a 4×4 drive
  • Don’t go after rain as the caves are made of mud and can collapse

Getting There

If you want detailed directions I recommend checking out this site. That being said, I used Google Maps to navigate all the way to the caves since it is popular enough to be a point of interest on Google Maps. Don’t just rely on this though, do your research as you will be driving through the desert and there are no signs.

The Drive

After getting off on the main road, you will be driving along the dirt in a wash for most of the way. I would not recommend coming in a two-wheel drive car as it was OK in the beginning but much more sketchy at the end.

The road passes Palm Spring at about the 1.5-mile mark. You can drive up and see that if you would like, it has a small spring that has water seasonally and a historical marker.

Heading onward, you will want to keep your eyes peeled for the Hollywood and Vine sign on top of one of the hills to the left of where you are driving. It is easy to miss, but it is fun to see, so keep watch for it.

When you get to the sign, you can walk up the small hill to see the Hollywood and Vine sign that looks like something out of Mad Max.

Continuing on, you will reach another wash and will need to take a sharp left. There was a sign here when I went but you can’t always count on that being the case so again make sure to have a map and know where you are going.

Heading up this wash and into the canyon is where the 4×4 was really needed as there was lots of dips and loose rock/sand sections.

You will pass a plaque from the parks system that tells you about the caves and area.

The Caves

We eventually made it to the base of one of the main caves. This is the largest mud cave system in the world, so there are many out here, but no one has been able to map them all.

If you enter the caves please be careful as they are dangerous and can collapse, I recommend a light and helmet as you do not want to bump your head in the dark and often small caves. Also, make sure you come with someone else (I went with Chris from LastAdventurer.com) and that you never walk on the top of the caves (they can collapse, don’t do it).

The cave we entered was large and had about a half mile or so of dark.

There were two cave-ins that provided light while we made our way through the cave.

These were awesome as it gave you a break from the monotony of the darkness and offered cool photo opportunities.

Eventually, the cave opened back up and entered into a canyon.

It was fun to walk through this section as well as some of the areas were very narrow, and it was like a slot canyon.

There was even a small mud arch to see here, but I wouldn’t guess that it would be there much longer with how small it was getting.

After exploring for about an hour, we made our way back out of the canyon and cave and started the long drive back to the road. This is an out of the way spot that requires a real adventure just to get to, but if you are careful, it can be a fun place to explore. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Dana Point Sea Caves: Hiking to Pirate’s Cave

While there are many sea caves up and down the California coast, the Dana Point Sea Caves are some of the easiest to access. This short hike takes you along the coast to a large cave with a great view of the water crashing on the rocks in front of you. It is a relatively popular spot known as Pirate’s Cave, so you probably won’t be alone, but the cave is big and has room for many people. Here is all the information so you can check it out.

Details

  • 1.2 miles round trip and flat
  • Wear shoes with support as there are lots of rocks to walk on
  • Only go during low tide

Getting There

To get to the trailhead, drive to the Ocean Institute in Dana Point. There is a parking lot for the institute, but only use it if you are paying the fee to see the Ocean Institute. If not, there is another lot further south that you can park in for Baby Beach. This is a good spot to park for the hike if you are not visiting the Ocean Institute.

The Trail

After parking, walk past the Ocean Institute, and you will be near the rock jetty.

You will see a large grated walkway with stairs to the right, and you will take that to start the hike. There is a sign here that directs you to Pirate’s Cave as well.

As I stated above, I recommend only going during low tide as it is difficult to get past a few sections without getting wet when it is high tide.

From here you are walking on the large rocks the rest of the way. Watch your footing as some rocks move or can be slippery.

If the tide is low enough, there are some tide pools you can see along the way as well.

When you round the main bend, you will be getting close to the cave.

The cave is accessed via a small slit in the rock before getting to the cave entrance. This slit is probably 3.5 feet wide by 8 feet high, and it is likely that it will have water in it, so you will have to get your feet wet.

Going through here takes you back to the main cave, and you will quickly see it is bigger than you probably anticipated.

You can just hang out here, or you can go around the small outcropping and get to another cave on the other side of this one. Don’t do this if the tide is high though as it means you have to go out into the water a little bit.

After hanging out and taking it all in, head back the way you came. If you are looking for more spots to explore in Dana Point, check out this post I made on the area as well.

Dana Point Sea Caves: Hiking to Pirate’s Cave

While there are many sea caves up and down the California coast, the Dana Point Sea Caves are some of the easiest to access. This short hike takes you along the coast to a large cave with a great view of the water crashing on the rocks in front of you. It is a relatively popular spot known as Pirate’s Cave, so you probably won’t be alone, but the cave is big and has room for many people. Here is all the information so you can check it out.

Details

  • 1.2 miles round trip and flat
  • Wear shoes with support as there are lots of rocks to walk on
  • Only go during low tide

Getting There

To get to the trailhead, drive to the Ocean Institute in Dana Point. There is a parking lot for the institute, but only use it if you are paying the fee to see the Ocean Institute. If not, there is another lot further south that you can park in for Baby Beach. This is a good spot to park for the hike if you are not visiting the Ocean Institute.

The Trail

After parking, walk past the Ocean Institute, and you will be near the rock jetty.

You will see a large grated walkway with stairs to the right, and you will take that to start the hike. There is a sign here that directs you to Pirate’s Cave as well.

As I stated above, I recommend only going during low tide as it is difficult to get past a few sections without getting wet when it is high tide.

From here you are walking on the large rocks the rest of the way. Watch your footing as some rocks move or can be slippery.

If the tide is low enough, there are some tide pools you can see along the way as well.

When you round the main bend, you will be getting close to the cave.

The cave is accessed via a small slit in the rock before getting to the cave entrance. This slit is probably 3.5 feet wide by 8 feet high, and it is likely that it will have water in it, so you will have to get your feet wet.

Going through here takes you back to the main cave, and you will quickly see it is bigger than you probably anticipated.

You can just hang out here, or you can go around the small outcropping and get to another cave on the other side of this one. Don’t do this if the tide is high though as it means you have to go out into the water a little bit.

After hanging out and taking it all in, head back the way you came. If you are looking for more spots to explore in Dana Point, check out this post I made on the area as well.

Gold Bug Mine and Stamp Mill in Placerville

On the way to South Lake Tahoe, in the town of Placerville, sits the Gold Bug Mine. This mine is a fantastic stop for the whole family as it has a self-guided, real gold mine tour you can go on, a historic stamp mill and a blacksmiths shop. If you 30 minutes to spare, I am sure you will enjoy your time, here is all the information.

Details

  • $5 to go in the mine
  • Hours: Most day 10 AM – 4 PM
  • Location: 2635 Gold Bug Ln, Placerville, CA 95667

Getting There

From Sacremento, you will take Highway 50 east towards Lake Tahoe. When you reach the town of Placerville, you will get to a light and will turn left at Bedford Ave. Continue on this road for one mile, and then you will turn right on Gold Bug Lane. There is parking near the mine and stamp mill.

The Mine

I recommend heading to the mine first. You get there by going into the building off to the left of the parking area. Proceeding to the second floor where you will see a bunch of mining materials, and there will be a worker who will take your payment for the mine.

After paying, they instruct you to download an app on your phone that you can use to listen to an audio tour while in the mine. This app is such a great idea, and I wonder why more places don’t do it. They also give you a hard hat which I appreciated as I am tall and bumped my head a few times.

The mine tour takes about 30 minutes, and you just walk through the mine and stop at the different numbers then play the app to learn about each one.

As far as I know, this is one of the only self-guided mine tours in California, at least I haven’t done any others. It was great to be able to spend more time at each area if we wanted to and to just go at our own pace.

There is a lot of interesting information to hear on the tour and I enjoyed listening to the entire audio guide.

When you reach the end of the mine, you will turn around and then there are a few additional numbers on the way back out to complete the tour.

When we went on a weekday, and there were only a few other people at the mine which made exploring it even more awesome.

After leaving the mine, you will want to either drive or walk the quarter mile up to the stamp mill.

The Stamp Mill

This historic structure has been here for over a century, and it is still in good shape to this day. It isn’t a working stamp mill anymore, but they show you how a working mill functions at the bottom.

I had seen a few other stamp mills before around California, but it was still interesting to hear more about this one.

The Blacksmith Shop

At the top of the stamp mill is a working blacksmith shop, and the blacksmith was there when we visited making stuff for people. He made my wife a ring out of a bent nail which was a fun little addition to the park.

After exploring a bit more, we left the park and heading on to South Lake Tahoe. If you are looking to add more time to your visit to Placerville, then you can see a few more of my favorite spots in this post.

Caving at Pluto’s Cave Near Mt Shasta

The Shasta region of California has no shortage of great lava tubes to explore. My favorite is probably the Subway Tube in Lassen National Park, but Pluto’s Cave is a fantastic cave that I stumbled on. A short walk is all that is needed to access the massive cave, and it is a great spot to explore in the town of Weed. Here is all the information.

Details

  • 1.5 miles round trip, more if you go further in the cave
  • The trail is flat, but there are a lot of loose rock in the caves and some up and down portions in the dark
  • Bring a flashlight

Getting There

I would recommend using Google Maps to see where it is and not for the directions. It was showing me the wrong direction to get there, so here is what I recommend. Head out on Highway 97 from Weed. When you reach A12, also called the 99-97 Cutoff, then you will take a left. After a few miles, right after the Juniper OHV turnout on the right, you will see a small dirt road with the words Plutos Cave on the telephone pole next to it. 

Turn here onto the dirt road and continue about a quarter of a mile to the trailhead. This is a rough road, but it was passable with 2WD when we went. Just be careful as there were some large rocks jutting up in the road. The dirt parking area was small, but there was room for a dozen or so cars.

The Trail

There is a trailhead that informs you to have a flashlight and not take anything from the cave. This is good advice, and you should follow it.

The trail is just a flat single track for about a quarter of a mile. There are views of Shasta from here if it isn’t cloudy and views north as well.

The area is sparse with little shade, but it is very unique. After a quarter mile, you will reach the opening of the cave.

Descend carefully as it is loose lava rock and then when you get to the base you can head left first to see the small cave that goes back about 60 feet.

It is very smelly from the bat poop, and there is a lot of graffiti on it which is unfortunate.

After heading back out of that cave the way you came in, go to the right to head towards Plutos Cave.

There is a large rock arch you will walk under and then some shrubs you need to take the path through before you reach the cave opening.

The cave is massive and reminds me a little of Skull Cave in Lava Beds National Monument.

Heading down into it will require you to follow the best trail you see as you climb over rocks and into the cave itself. This is where you will need the flashlight as it gets dark. When you make it to the bottom, you will move from rocks to sand as you make your way back into the cave to the first cave in.

The first cave in is where you have likely seen photos of this cave before. It has a pretty big hole and lets in a lot of light.

Proceeding on from here and you will see the second cave in, that you will climb out of and into the light.

This part is only in the light for a little while before you will head back into the cave again.

We turned around after this entrance as I had read that the cave here goes about a mile in before a cave in stops you from going further, and it is in darkness the whole time. Proceed if you like, but I probably wouldn’t recommend you do that since it just leads to a dead end and is likely to be pretty sketchy in the darkness.

All in all, this is a great, short adventure in the Shasta / Weed area. It is an easy way for a family to get to experience a cave together, but just be sure you bring a flashlight.

Shasta Caverns: Exploring Shasta Lake’s Show Cave

The idea of exploring caves is something that has always interested me as I have toured around California. Be it the show caves of Northern California or just exploring a large hole in a rock like Cave of the Munits; this lead me to Shasta Caverns on Shasta Lake during my recent trip to Northern California. This cave is on private property, accessed by a ten-minute boat ride and a ten-minute shuttle before you even make it to the mouth of the cave. It is a fun adventure for the whole family, read on for all the information.

Details

  • $26 a person
  • Plan 2 – 2.5 hours
  • Open most days from 9 AM – 3 PM
  • Must be willing to climb/descend around 600 stairs
  • Location: 20359 Shasta Caverns Rd, Lakehead, CA 96051

Getting There

The Shasta Caverns are located about 1.5 miles off Highway 5 as it heads through the Lake Shasta region. You will get off on Shasta Caverns Road and head down near the water, where you will find the Shasta Caverns Office. There is plenty of parking here, but I would imagine that on a few of the holiday weekends each year it is pretty full.

The Tour

To get tickets, you can book them directly online, or you can come in on a first come first served basis day of. I went at about 2 PM on a Saturday in April and was able to get a spot for two on the last tour of the day, 3 PM.

After booking a tour, you can go outside and pan for gold, play in the children playground or just shop for souvenirs.

At 2:45, we were called and escorted down to the dock where our boat was waiting.

There was 31 of us on the tour, and the guide said that is pretty normal, but that during the holiday weekends you can see over 80 on a tour.

After boarding the boat, it was a short 10-minute ride over to the other side of the lake. The views along the water were fantastic, and this was just a fun little experience in and of itself.

Upon arriving you are loaded into a bus and shuttled 800 feet in elevation up to the mouth of the cave.

From here, the view of Shasta Lake is really impressive as you are pretty high up.

The cave tour was lead by Cave Dave who took us down into the cave and showed us four main rooms over the course of 1 hour.

The tour was informative and moved along quickly. I appreciated that it wasn’t too heavy on the technical stuff as I am sure many of the families on the tour did as well.

I have been in most of the show caves in California, and I have to say this is one of the most impressive.

Two of the rooms you walk into are massive and have large ceilings with lots of formations.

I found myself excited to see what came next on the tour. My wife also agreed that it was one of the better cave tours.

There are a few sections of the cave where you need to climb a decent amount of steps. This is not too bad, just take your time as it never felt too rushed.

The cave was also pretty wet when we went, with water dripping on you and having to watch where you walked, so you didn’t land in a puddle. They told me this is all dry during the summer though.

The last room was the most impressive as there was so many formations to see and even bats flying around at the ceiling. We got to spend an extra few minutes here taking photos.

After an hour, we were back in the sunlight where there were about 200 more stairs that you have to climb back down to the mouth of the cave. This is in the light though with beautiful views of the lake, so it is a nice walk.

From there you just get on the shuttle and then the boat back to where you started. All in all, this is a fun tour that I thought was well priced at $26. If you have a family that can be pricey, but it is a very full adventure. Let me know what you think if you have been in the comments.

Eagle Mine & High Point Gold Mine Tour in Julian

The town of Julian is a fun little hideaway that is visited often by people from San Diego and Temecula for the excellent pie. I have driven there on a few occasions just to get pie as well; it is that good. That being said, the town of Julian has a lot more to offer, such as hikes to summits and waterfalls, as well as a great old gold mine that has a fun tour. I thought it was going to be pretty touristy and weak when I was driving up to it, but what I found was one of the best mining tours I have ever been on; I recommend you check it out and here is all the information.

Details

  • $10 for the tour
  • Tour leaves pretty much whenever people want to go on it
  • Open: 9 AM to 4 PM but can close early
  • Location: 2320 C St, Julian, CA 92036

Getting There

From the town of Julian, whose downtown is only a few blocks, head south on Main Street and then take a left on C St. Follow sings for the mine as you wind around on the one lane road till you make it to the entrance. There is parking in the lot next to the mine. You can technically walk from the town to here but I would just drive.

The Tour

Upon parking, you will make your way into the company store which has gems, gold flakes and all sorts of other antiques. You will then pay your $10 and wait for the next tour.

We set out on our tour with Matthew, and I have to say he pretty much rules. He was hilarious, making jokes and telling stories during the entire hour long trip.

We started out by heading up to the stamp mill. They have two stamp mills here, one large one with five stamps and one small one with only one stamp.

From here we headed over to the gold panning bins and were taught how to pan for gold (Chris from LastAdventurer.com is in the above photo). I had no idea this was a part of the tour, and it was a super fun addition to the experience. There is actual gold that is put into the panning area, so that makes it even more exciting to find.

After panning for gold and putting it back, we headed over to the entrance of the mine.

The next hour was spent underground in the mine itself, which was awesome. We ducked low hanging walls, explored corridors and learned about the town and the mine’s history all while underground. If you don’t like this kind of thing, do note that you will be underground for a long period.

The mine is well lit, with hanging light bulbs all along the path you will be taking, and it is tall enough that it never felt claustrophobic to me.

This mine is actually two different mines, High Point Mine and Eagle Mine. The High Point Mine produced more gold then Eagle Mine, but they ended up forming an agreement and working together so that High Point could have access to the Eagle Point Mine’s stamp mill.

This is why the two mines connect, and you can walk completely through them.

All along the tour, there are sections with antiques and artifacts found in the mine, including old helmets with candles, boxes of tools and boxes that would have held dynamite.

In the middle of the two mines is the large vertical shaft that would have taken miners up to 400 feet down to the other mine levels.

There is also a corridor of the mine that has the tools they used to dig/explode pieces of the rock. It has one of the old tools on display for you to see.

This mine was operational from 1870 to 1934, and it took about 100,000 dollars gold out of the mountain. This would equal a few million in today’s money.

Before exiting the mine, we got to see a shaft that was created to drop ore down from other levels into the carts waiting below. I had never seen this in a mine before, and it was pretty cool.

After leaving the mine, it is about a tenth of a mile to walk back to where you parked your car.

Video

Here is a vlog I made exploring this mine and a hike in the area.

This really is a fantastic experience that you should do with your family in Julian. I recommend asking for Matthew as he is great, but either way, just make sure you check it out. Let me know what you think in the comments.