Frequently asked questions
Moaning Caverns Spiral Tour
The entrance to the cavern is accessed from inside the gift shop. The tour descends 235 steps (144 of which are on the 100-foot spiral staircase) to a depth of 165 feet, then comes back up the same steps.
Wheelchairs and strollers are not able to negotiate the stairs. In addition, the occasional low ceiling does not allow for infants to be carried in backpacks. We do not recommend the tour to people who are claustrophobic or those who have a fear of heights.
Moaning Caverns Expedition Tour
This is a “wild caving expedition,” also known as spelunking. It is very physically demanding – Those with conditions such as heart and lung problems, pregnancy, impaired mobility, or excessive weight should not attempt the adventure. Participants must be at least 12 years old, and be at least 4-feet tall. Minors must be accompanied by an adult. Guides will limit participation to persons they believe to be suitable and fit.
Twin Zip Line
Accessing the Visitor Center, Zip Shack and Landing Tower will include going up and down steps. To get to the Launch Tower, participants will be driven to the base of the tower and from there walk up a short, steep trail and then cross the “air bridge” (which moves as you walk on it). To get back from the Landing Tower to the parking lot, participants take a nature trail hike (less than 1000 ft.).
The Tower is next to the parking lot and easy to access – slight sloping ground, otherwise easy access.
Because the narrow and low entrance passage prevents the use of backpacks, and the stairs make it unsafe to carry a child without support and prevents the use of strollers or wheelchairs, children need to be old enough to walk on their own or small enough to fit in a front carrier. There are no age limits on this tour. Everyone is welcome!
Cavern exploration requires good health! Those with conditions such as heart and lung problems, pregnancy, impaired mobility or excessive weight should not attempt the adventure. YOU ARE REQUIRED TO NOTIFY US IF YOU OR ANYONE IN YOUR GROUP MAY REQUIRE SPECIAL ATTENTION OR AWARENESS ON THE PART OF YOUR GUIDE! Participants must be at least 12 years old. Guides will limit participation to persons they believe to be suitable and fit. Although our cavern trips involve little danger, all participants and parents of participating minor children are required to sign a waiver of liability.
No children under 6 years old and under 40″ tall. Children ages 6 and above, less than 48″ tall and less than 80 lbs., must ride tandem.
Children under 80 lbs. may go Tandem with an adult (age 16+). The child must fill out the child harness (usually around 45 lbs.) and the adult must be able to hold the child up for a minute while we hook them in. The combined weight of adult and child cannot exceed the maximum limit of 270 lbs.
All participants must complete a release and waiver of liability form. Parents must complete this form for their minor children.
In general, the best times to visit are when we are less crowded, which tends to be in the winter, early spring and late fall. These are also beautiful times to visit the Mother Lode which is beautifully green from the rains.
Moaning Caverns is open 364 days a year. Memorial Day through Labor Day are the busiest times, especially on weekends and holidays.
Fall and winter is a wonderful time to visit if you want to avoid the crowds. While Moaning Caverns doesn’t flood in the winter the cavern does get wet and visitors may get dripped on. The Expedition Tour can get very wet and muddy during the winter, which most people feel adds to the fun.
The zip lines are available seasonally. Please call us or go to our Contact Us page for availability. Generally, weekends and holidays are busy, and weekdays are less busy.
Due to the vertical nature of our cavern and our concern for guest and guide safety, we must limit what guests can bring on our tours. Backpacks, bags, purses, water bottles, food, drinks or camera attachments such as tripods, selfie sticks, and extra lenses will not be allowed in the cave. We want to make sure that everyone is safe as these items could be dropped into the cavern resulting in serious injury to another guest. Guests with special needs may bring necessary items at the discretion of the supervisor on duty. Our first-aid kits inside the cavern contain water for emergency purposes.
Cameras are welcome as long as they include a wrist strap. While using your camera, please make sure you have it attached to yourself via your wrist strap. If you get some really good photos, we’d like to see them, and may feature them on our website! Just e-mail them in JPEG format to PR@MoaningCaverns.com. Don’t forget to include your name(s), and some comments on your visit. Flashes are necessary for good pictures.
Cameras – still or video are permitted as long as they come with a wrist strap and the camera remains attached to your wrist while you are involved in the activity and/or while you are photographing or video recording an activity. If you get some good shots or footage, please email it to us at PR@MoaningCaverns.com, and if you upload video to YouTube, please email us a link. We will be delighted to see what you captured!
Cameras are discouraged. It is difficult enough to maneuver without having to constantly deal with carrying a camera. If you feel that you would like to bring one anyway, a disposable flash camera is recommended. The guide will make the final decision as to whether a camera will be permitted or not.
Regardless of the outside temperature and weather, the cavern environment is a constant 61°F/16°C with mild to high humidity. In addition to the warm conditions, you will warm up going down and then back up the 235 steps. Most people are fine in short sleeves and shorts. However, those who get cold easily may want to bring a sweater or light jacket.
Requires special clothing and gear. This information is given to you when you make a reservation.
Zip Line & Climbing Tower
Dress for the outside weather. In cold weather, do not wear bulky clothes. In the hot weather, it is recommended to not wear short-shorts because of the seat harness. At all times, wear shoes that will stay on your feet (no flipflops, etc).
To receive a group rate, groups must meet 4 requirements:
- Have the minimum number of people.
- For the Expedition Tour, the minimum is 8 people.
- For all other activities, the minimum is 15 people.
- Pay for everyone in one transaction. If payments need to be made by individuals, then it will be at full price. People who add on later will be at full price.
- Groups who pay a 25% deposit can pay the balance due in one transaction and still get the discount.
- Make a reservation.
- Gift shop with snacks & drinks, nature, science & souvenir oriented merchandise
- Picnic Tables
- Gemstone Mining
In our conservation efforts, we do not allow any food, drinks, gum, tobacco or smoking in the cavern. It only takes a small amount of these foreign materials to make a big difference to the cavern environment. However, if a visitor needs to bring a small, unopened pack of food for health purposes they can get it approved by their guide.
Lots of information is available in the AOPA’s Airport Directory. In addition, we have compiled some information here, to help you navigate to our locations. Under some circumstances, we may be able to pick you up from the airport to participate in an expedition – ask our reservations specialist when you call to make your reservations.
Moaning Cavern (N 38° 4, W 120° 28)
The closest international airport to Moaning Cavern is Sacramento International Airport (N 38° 41.72, W 121° 35.44) 916-929-5411
Placerville Airport (N 38° 43.45, W 120° 45.19) 530-622-0459
Hangtown Taxi 530-748-8294
Gold Rush Taxi 530-651-4653
Amador Shuttle Service 209-271-7783
Westover Field, Jackson (N 38° 22.6, W 120° 47.63) 209-223-2376
Pioneer Cab Co 209-223-3335
San Andreas Airport (N 38° 8.76, W 120° 38.89) 209-736-2501
Murphy’s Taxi 209-795-7777
Copper Cab 209-785-7433
Columbia Airport (N 38° 1.82, W 120° 24.87) 209-533-5685
City Cab 209-694-8294
Frontier Cab 209-228-2900
Oakdale Airport (N 37° 45.38, W 120° 48.01) 209-845-3600
United Cab of Oakdale 209-847-8294
Red Top 209-836-4340
Modesto Airport (N 37° 37.54, W 120° 57.26) 209-577-5318
A Metro Taxi 209-222-2222
Modesto United Cab 209-888-8888
Avis 209-527-7223 or 209-491-9302
Central Valley Airports – located about 1-1/2 hours from Moaning Cavern:
Stockton Metropolitan Airport (N 37° 53.64, W 121° 14.29) 209-468-4700
Yellow Cab 209-466-8294
Stockton Taxi Cab 209-612-3030
Hertz 209-460-0780 or 209-478-9800
Tracy Municipal Airport (N 37° 41.34, W 121° 26.50) 209-831-6262
Yellow Cab 209-830-9999
Red Top Taxi 209-836-4340
Tracy Taxi 209-833-8294
Car Rental Main Branch Phone Numbers
Avis (Reservations) 800-230-4898, (Customer Service) 800-352-7900
Alamo (Reservations) 800-651-1223, (Customer Service) 800-233-8749
Enterprise. (Reservations) 855-266-9289, (Customer Service) 855-266-9565
Hertz (Reservations) 800-654-3131, (Customer Service) 800-657-4178
Groups such as schools or scouts, must make a reservation for the Spiral Tours or Zip Line in order to qualify for discounted prices. No reservations are necessary for the Spiral Tour or Zip Line if you are not part of a discounted group.
Reservations are always required for the Expedition Tour.
Reservations cannot be guaranteed to be held unless prepaid. Reservations can be made at any time, however keep in mind that tours can sell out. Therefore, the more in advance the better. To make reservations, call 209-736-2708.
When making reservations please be ready with the following information:
- Which tour you want
- Several possible dates, in case your first choice(s) is not available
- Number of people, including how many adults and children
- Additional activities you want to reserve if applicable (ie gemstone mining)
- Estimated arrival time
- Group name, contact name, mailing address and phone number
Moaning Cave Rd. is also a 2-lane road. Buses and other large trucks/RVs do just fine. The cavern is below the snow line, so winter weather does not affect the roads. The parking lot is a large, gravel lot.
The Spiral Tour consists of 235 steps with handrails, all of which must be walked twice; first down, then up – 100 vertical feet of which takes place on a spiral staircase. This tour is not recommended for people with heart conditions, claustrophobia or a fear of heights.
We provide trained expedition guides. It is a high-adventure activity in a natural environment with inherent dangers including, but not limited to slippery surfaces, dislodged rocks, and improper use of equipment that no amount of care, caution, instruction, or expertise can eliminate. All participants are required to sign a release and waiver of liability, assumption of risk and indemnity agreement. We do not recommend these activities to people with heart conditions, claustrophobia or a fear of heights.
While we have strict safety protocols and daily inspections to make sure all of our equipment is in top condition, any high-adventure activity comes with a certain level of risk that cannot be completely alleviated. All participants are required to sign a release and waiver of liability, assumption of risk and indemnity agreement.
Walking tours 1 – 35 per tour
Adventure Trip 2 – 8 per trip
No equipment or specialty gear is needed for our Spiral Tour. We do, however, recommend you wear shoes with good traction (no flipflops, etc.) for negotiating all the steps and the naturally wet and rocky ground.
For the Expedition Tour we provide a helmet with light, gloves and knee/elbow pads. Participants may provide their own equipment if it meets our standards.
The Zip Line has very strict regulations. Participants must use our equipment.