You Have To Be Pretty Fearless To Explore This Haunted Cave In California

Some people love haunted houses and ghostly apparitions. It can be fun to feel your heart rate spike and chills going down your spine. Maybe you don't even believe in ghosts, but there is just something primal in your mind that you can't help getting scared. Now imagine seeing a hazy figure or hearing a ghostly moan emanating from the depths of a cave as you squeeze through a passage on your hands and knees in the dark. Is it the spirit of someone who fell into the cave? Someone who got trapped down there? Are your eyes playing tricks on you, in a dark place lit only by the lamp on your head and those of your fellow spelunkers? Was it even a person you saw or heard? Maybe it was ... well, we'll get to that. 

If this is exciting to you, you can visit a haunted cave in the city of Vallecito, California, called Moaning Cavern. While it offers lots of activities for more skittish vacationers, there is one tour in particular that you might want to think twice about unless you're pretty fearless. Let's talk about Moaning Cavern, the spooky things that have been found there, and see if you're brave enough to take the tour. 

The spooky goings-on in Moaning Cavern

So, what exactly makes this cave haunted? Well, in the late 1840s, according to the Moaning Cavern website, the cave was found by gold miners who lowered themselves down with a winch and a bucket. What they were looking for was precious metals, but what they found were skeletons. In fact, some of those human remains are thought to be around 12,000 years old. 

A cave with skeletons is the perfect setting for ghosts, and some people report catching glimpses of ghostly figures. Others say they've seen the ghost of a sabretooth tiger with a chip out of his tooth. As the name Moaning Cavern suggests, people inside the cave have heard a ghostly moaning coming from the depths of the earth. 

The scientific explanation for the moaning sound, per their website, is that the calcite dripping from the stalactites stopped building up the rock underneath it and instead began to erode the rock, creating holes that make water drops echo. But the local Miwok tribe's stories say the cave was home to Yayalli, a stone giant whose calling led people to fall in. Hearing the moan is a rare occurrence now, but maybe you'll get (un)lucky — if you choose to venture inside at all. 

Spooky (and not-so-spooky) things to do at Moaning Cavern

Before you go into the cave, consider your 'fraidy cat level. Are you completely freaked out by the idea of ghosts and supernatural sounds? Are your kids a little fearful? (We won't tell anyone if you use them as an excuse.) If getting scared isn't your thing, there are other activities to do at Moaning Cavern. There is a gift shop, a visitor center, and a place for axe throwing. You and the kids can pan for crystals. You can even grab snacks, like candy and ice cream.

If you feel a little braver than that, join the 45-minute Spiral Tour, which will take you inside part of the cavern. Walk down a huge spiral staircase containing 144 stairs and going more than 180 feet down. There, you'll see some incredible prehistoric rock formations, and you might even hear something moaning in the dark. 

If you don't believe in ghosts, maybe you're fearless enough to attempt the Expedition Crawling & Spelunking Tour. This journey is approximately three hours long, and you will be squeezing through passages and crevasses, sometimes on your hands and knees and even on your stomach. You must be in good shape for this one. They'll provide gloves and a hard hat with a light, which probably won't help against ghosts, but you do you. We wish you good fortune on your journey into the ghostly cave, and hope that all you see are stalactites and stalagmites, and all you hear is the pounding of your own heart.