Weekly newspaper of Three Rivers, California, and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks

Crystal Cave’s artistic spider-web gate.

Crystal Cave area to receive upgrades

By: 
Sarah Elliott

 

Work on improving the visitor services at Crystal Cave in Sequoia National Park has commenced. This is the first major upgrade to the cave’s facilities in more than 30 years. 
 
This current project will accomplish needed repairs to provide an improved visitor experience, while protecting the area’s important cultural and natural resources. The recently approved plan includes repairing the damaged cave-access trail and trail features, replacing the existing visitor information kiosk and gift shop, and improving the displays at the trailhead and along the trail. The Park Service will also be rehabilitating the picnic area near the trailhead and installing new restrooms. 
 
The plan does not propose to change the trail inside the cave or the types and number of cave tours offered to visitors.
 
“The Crystal Cave visitor experience offers an introduction to the underground ecosystems in the parks,” said Mark Tilchen, outgoing executive director of Sequoia Parks Conservancy, which operates the cave tours. “There are hundreds of caves in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, and Crystal Cave is the only one open for public tours. This project is going to be a great improvement to the area.” 
 
The National Park Service has recently started the trail improvements, which will continue until the cave opens for the season on Friday, May 26. Work on the trail will resume again in the fall after the cave closes to the public for the winter.
 
Crystal Cave, which opened for public tours in 1940, is one of the most popular visitor destinations in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. The cave is visited by an average of 51,000 people each summer season. Much of the original infrastructure for the cave was built in the 1930s by the CCCs.
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