Pluto's Cave


Area Status: Open
Ruggged interior of Pluto's Cave

Pluto's Cave is a lava tube that was formed by an eruption of basaltic lava which originated from a vent about 8 miles to the northeast, between Deer Mountain and The Whaleback. Visitors can safely hike approx 1200 feet into the cave.

No fee is charged and no permit is required for entrance to the cave.  Please adheare to the following rules and regulations:

  • Stay on established trails.
  • No food or drink in the cave including gum, tobacco, candy and bottles or canteens.
  • No pets or animals in the cave.  Do not leave your pets unattended in your vehicle.
  • No human waste in the cave.  Please plan ahead!
  • No fires, torches or smoking in the cave.
  • No camping in or around Pluto's Cave.
  • Enjoy rocks, animals, flowers and vegetation but collect only litter.
  • Treat the cave with respect; refrain from vandalism.

The following tips will keep you safe in Pluto's Cave:

  • Always go caving with at least one other person.
  • Each explorer should carry at least two flashlights.  Cavers often carry a third emergency light source.
  • Wear sturdy non-skid shoes.
  • Bring warm clothing even in summer.  Parts of the cave can reach as low as 40 degrees.

Pluto's Cave is one of the main feeder tubes which carried most of the lava into the Shasta Valley. The small domes of lava in the vicinity of the main entrance are called schollendomes and were formed when the tube was filed with lava to the point where fluid pressure caused an actual inflation of the flow, causing it to rise up, bulge and form the small domes.

The diameter of this cave is exceptionally large; larger than many of the major caves in the Hawaiian Islands. Multiple lava flows are visible in the walls of Pluto's Cave and can be identified by seeing the layered basalt which is fine grained at the base, and coarse textured and full of gas bubbles (vesicles) near the top. The skylights along the length of the cave were formed as the lava cooled and collapsed.

Large cave with light pouring in from hole above Low rock arch near the entrance to Pluto Grey boulders on the floor of the interior of the cave Light pours in from skylight in roof of Pluto Interior of the Pluto

At a Glance

Fees: No fee
Permit Info: Permits are not required to enter the cave. Be prepared with warm clothing, sturdy, non-skid shoes and extra flashlights.
Usage: Light
Restrictions: Water and garbage service are not provided. Camping is not permitted at Pluto's cave. No food or drink inside the cave. Pets are not allowed inside the cave. No fires, torches or smoking in the cave. Pack out all trash and litter. Human waste is not permitted in the cave. Plan ahead!
Closest Towns: Weed 11 miles
Water: None
Restroom: None
Operated By: US Forest Service

General Information

Directions:

From I-5 in Weed, CA travel northeast on US Hwy 97 approx 7 miles to County Road A-12. Turn left and go approx 3.3 miles to Forest Road 43N30. Turn left go approx .2 mile to the parking area.


General Notes:

Caves have special, sensitive ecosystems.  A variety of rare or endangered plants and animals are some of the more significant resources in caves.  Caves are delicate and must be used wisely to avoid damage.  Unlike the surface environment, which, in time, can heal its wounds, a cave, once damaged, remains that way forever.


Parking:

Park in designated area only.  Do not drive beyond the parking area or off road.


Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

Activities

Day Hiking

The hike from the parking lot to the cave entrance is a rocky trail .3 miles long. The interior length of the cave is 1200 feet (approx 3/4 of a mile) one way.

Fire Information Campfires are not permitted inside or at the entrance to the cave.  A current California Campfire Permit is required to use a camp stove, barbecue or have a campfire outside of developed areas with designated fire rings or stoves.  Local fire restrictions supersede the campfire permit.  Inquire at the Ranger Station before having a fire.
Fees: no fee

Caving

Pluto's Cave is a lava tube that was formed by an eruption of basaltic lava which originated from a vent about 8 miles to the northeast, between Deer Mountain and The Whaleback. Visitors can safely hike approx 1200 feet into the cave.

Fees: no fee

Picnicking

A nice sunny spot to warm up after a cool walk through the cave.

No. of Sites 1
Reservation Info Reservations not available. All sites are first come, first served.
Fire Information A current California Campfire Permit is required to use a camp stove, barbecue or have a campfire outside of developed areas.  Local fire restrictions supersede the campfire permit.  Inquire at the Ranger Station before having a fire.
No. of Accessible Sites None
No. of Accessible sites None
Fees: no fee

Related Information

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities

Highlights

Location

 
  Area/Length : 
1200 ft

  Latitude : 
41.57073

  Longitude : 
-122.27917