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California Underground: A Guide to Caves, Mines and Lava Tubes

California Underground: A Guide to Caves, Mines and Lava Tubes

by Jon Kramer


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Your Journey Guide to the Underground

If you crave adventure, an "off the beaten path" way to explore California, the answer is in your hands, literally. California Underground Adventures delves into the state's best caves, mines and lava tubes. Plus the authors', Jon Kramer & Julie Martinez, tongue-in-cheek notes make this guidebook almost as fun to read as the caves are to explore!


  • Informative and entertaining guide to California's lava tubes, mines and caves
  • Complete site details including temperature, information on guided and self-guided tours and driving directions
  • Fascinating details about each site's history and geology
  • Full-cover photographs of underground wonders
  • Jon's Candid tips that help you see the sites through experienced eyes

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781591932307
Publisher: Adventure Publications, Incorporated
Publication date: 08/10/2009
Pages: 184
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Jon Kramer is an adventurer first, and also a geologist, writer, climber and surfer (but not necessarily in that order, depending on the surf). He received his Bachelor of Science degree in geology at the University of Maryland and has pursued life as an adventuring paleontologist ever since. His interests are quite varied and include all things natural. In addition to popular travel and adventure writing, Jon has published scientific papers on critters as ancient as 2 billion year-old bacteria and as young as 12,000-year-old mammoths. Jon travels extensively with his wife Julie, sometimes settling down for a rest in Minnesota, Florida, California and interesting points in between.

Julie Martineza is an explorer, naturalist, freelance artist and formal art instructor. Her appreciation for insects, plants, rocks and fossils started in childhood with a collection that has grown throughout her life. Julie graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, with a degree in Fine Arts and Biology. She initially worked as an illustrator for the medical field but in the late 1980s began a freelance career, which she has enjoyed ever since. Julie’s work is featured in many textbooks, journals and museum exhibits throughout North America. She is also a staff teacher at Minnesota School of Botanical Art. When not teaching, she travels with Jon, exploring the wilds of the world.

Read an Excerpt

1 Alabama Hills

Type of site: eroded granite with natural cavities, tunnels and arches

Skill level: 2–3

Equipment needed: sturdy hiking shoes, water and a camera

Temperature: influenced by ambient temperatures

Tour length: it’s all about you, so spend a few hours or all day

Description: The formations here are not comparable in size to, say, Arches National Monument, but they are far more numerous and a lot more accessible. These hills are a delight for anyone and everyone who has a kid inside them clamoring to get out. You can’t help but enjoy roaming the channels, ridges, spires and small canyons looking for new surprises. And you’ll find plenty! There are arches, bridges, tunnels, small caves, and cavities scattered all over the place. There are arches on arches and hollows in hollows. There are double, triple and even quadruple-chambered cavities. There are rocks that are empty and look like giant egg shells. I really cannot even begin to describe all the weird and wonderful things here so please just go check it out for yourself! While you’re at it, continue on up to Whitney Portal and see the splendor that is the highest mountain in the lower 48 states, Mt. Whitney.

Directions: From Lone Pine, follow the Whitney Portal Road west toward Mt. Whitney for 2.7 miles. Turn right (north) onto Movie Road (aka Movie Flat Road). This tract starts as fairly decent pavement but gradually degrades to a dirt road in about half a mile. Follow the road about 1.5 miles from Whitney Portal Road to a “Y.” Bear right here and pull into the parking area immediately on your left. The trail to the most popular arch is clearly marked. But don’t ignore all the rest of the hills in the immediate area—there are surprises around every corner.

Precautions: The granite here is continually weathering and crumbling—so watch your footing. The loose grit will pull your feet right out from under you if you aren’t careful. In addition, this is rattlesnake country—please don’t put your hands anywhere you haven’t first inspected. You might surprise yourself and a snake too. Avoid midsummer heat and carry lots of water whenever you go.

Table of Contents

Welcome to the Underworld

Caving vs. Spelunking

Using this Guide

Underground Basics

Leave No Trace

Safety Underground

How Caves Form

A Brief History of the California Underworld

Map of Sites


  • Alabama Hills
  • Black Chasm Cavern
  • Boyden Cavern
  • Bronson Cave
  • California Cavern
  • California State Mining and Mineral Museum
  • Chumash Painted Cave
  • Crystal Cave
  • Dublin Gultch
  • Eagle and High Peak Mine
  • Empire Mine
  • Eureka Mine
  • Gold Cliff Mine
  • Hall City Cave
  • Hole-in-the-Wall
  • Jot Dean Ice cave
  • Lake Shasta Caverns
  • Lava Beds National Monument
  • Maggie Mine
  • Mercer Caverns
  • Mitchell Caverns
  • Moaning Cavern
  • Natural Bridges
  • Packsaddle Cave
  • Pinnacles National Monument
  • Pluto’s Cave
  • Sixteen to One Mine
  • Subway Cave
  • Sunny Jim Sea Cave
  • Sutter Gold Mine

References / Websites / Resources



About the Authors

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