One of Sequoia National Park’s most popular visitor attractions will not open as scheduled this month due to the coronavirus pandemic. Usually open from May through September, Crystal Cave, which has been provided public tours since 1940, will keep its famed spiderweb gate closed and locked this season.
Operated by Sequoia Parks Conservancy, the nonprofit partner of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks (and Lake Kaweah), Crystal Cave is a major source of revenue for the group. SPC is following guidance from the CDC and recommendations from state and local public health authorities in consultation with NPS Public Health Service officers in order to keep its employees and park visitors safe and healthy.
Due to the sensitive ecosystem of Crystal Cave, the required sanitation procedures cannot be accomplished. In addition, the cave’s narrow pathways and tight spaces do not allow adequate physical distancing measures.
Crystal Cave is the second-largest of 275 known caves in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, and the fourth largest in California. SPC plans to reopen Crystal Cave for the 2021 summer season.
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Another favorite SPC activity is the Dark Sky Festival. Held annually since 2014 at various locations throughout Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, the 2020 Dark Sky Festival has also been cancelled. The festival, the largest astronomy event in Central California, educates thousands of visitors each year about the importance of the night sky and its preservation.