Calaveras County has one of the largest cave systems in California, and each of the major caves, Mercer Caverns, Moaning Cavern, and California Caverns at Cave City, was discovered and developed because of the Gold Rush. Each of the following caverns are open to the public via guided tours, and are located within a short distance of Hwy 49.

Mercer Caverns
        1665 Sheepranch Rd., Murphys, CA 95222
While looking for gold in 1885, John Mercer found a small crevice which emitted a current of cool air. After enlarging the opening, he ventured below with candles, finding a number of human bones in a pile of debris at the bottom, but no gold. He opened the caverns in 1887 to the public, providing wooden steps for the trek, while torches, oil lamps, and candles provided illumination. Visitors today marvel at the enormous variety of crystalline formations and rare frost-like deposits of Aragonite Flos Ferri, an agagonite formation. A bunch of stalactites and stalagmites throughout the caves.
Moaning Caverns
        5350 Moaning Cave Rd., Vallecito, CA 95251
First explored by gold miners in 1851, the caverns got their name because of the moaning sound that came from wind passing over its entrance. A 100-foot spiral stairway leads visitors down into the first chamber of the natural limestone cavern, which is large enough to hold the Statue of Liberty. Several of the deeper chambers are accessible via advanced tours.
California Caverns at Cave City
        Located on Cave City Road near Mountain Ranch, off Mountain Ranch Road.
Discovered in 1850, Cave City Cave was one of the first registered caverns in California, and was the first commercial cave in the state. A hotel was built in 1853 to house the many visitors to the cavern. Several types of tours are offered today, including those which use rafts to explore the subterranean lakes and rivers.

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