Black Chasm Cave - CA

December 27, 2014

It is a long drive if you are coming from Canada but along the route you will have beautiful sights like Mount Shasta. At 14,179 feet (4,322 m), it is the second highest peak in the Cascades and the fifth highest in California.

Mount Shasta

Black Chasm Cavern is a cave nestled in the hamlet of Volcano, located in Amador County, California. 

Entrance to Black Chasm Cavern

Black Chasm Cavern is a dissolution cave, formed by carbonic acid eroding the subterranean bedrock  


The calcite formations in Black Chasm Cavern are derivative of the marble bedrock, containing primarily calcium or calcium carbonate (CaCO3).

Going down

The cavern is home to Amphipods, which live in the lakes of the cave. The Amphipods are adapted to life without light, having no pigmentation or eyesight.

Also living within the cave, and adapted to total darkness, is the Banksula grubbsi arachnid. The Banksula grubbsi has a multi-segmented body that appears to be one single trunk at first glance, it has detached retinas, and no pigmentation. It also is found nowhere in the world except Black Chasm Cavern.

Black Chasm was likely known about by the local MiWok tribes, though gold miners were the first credited with exploring the cave in 1854.

There are a variety of formations in Black Chasm Cavern, including stalactites, stalagmites, columns, flowstone, draperies, ribbons, angel's wings, cave bacon, soda straws, helictites, false floors, and numerous fun shapes.

A big stalagmite

Helictites are mineral deposits found in limestone caves that changes its axis from the vertical at one or more stages during its growth. They can be easily crushed or broken by the slightest touch. Because of this, helictites are rarely seen within arm's reach in tourist caves.

There are only three other caves where you can see these formations in such large concentrations, Timpanogos Cave in Utah, Jenolan Caves in Australia and Pozalagua Cave in Spain.


Close to the area, you should stop at Volcano, the town of many "firsts":

1854 First theater group in California

1854 First debating society in California
1854 First circulating library in California
1855 First private school in California
1855 First private law school in California
1856 First legal hanging in Amador County
1860 First astronomical observatory in California
1978 First solar still in California


The small town is named for its setting in a bowl-shaped valley which early miners thought was caused by a volcano.

Yummy Chicken

If looking for a good meal, go to Volcano Union Pub. The great atmosphere and friendly staff make being there enjoyable.

Driving Distance: 1,530 km