Moaning Cavern Adventure Park | Dave Bunnell

Vallecito Top Attractions are all about the geology. The mineral rich soil produces bold, flavorful wines, which local winemakers have put to good use in their development of award-winning varietals that you can taste at multiple vineyards in this part of Calaveras County.

The karst topography here produces limestone formations like the spectacular Moaning Cavern, which holds California’s deepest cave chamber, and magical Natural Bridges – a creek-fed cave you can swim through.

Vallecito Top Attractions: Moaning Cavern Adventure Park

Moaning Cavern Adventure Park

The walk tour | Menka Belgal

With a depth of 165-feet to the bottom of the main chamber, Moaning Cavern lends itself well to high adventure. Imagine walking deep into the depths of the earth… it’s quite an experience for the senses.

Vallecito Top Attractions: Moaning Cavern Adventure Trip | Dave Bunnell

Adventure Trip | Dave Bunnell

Want to add even more adrenaline to your experience? Consider the 3-hour Adventure Trip  – you get 2 hours crawling around in the deepest recesses of the wild cave. Definitely not for the claustrophobic, this caving trip has you crawling, sliding and squeezing through areas with names like Godzilla’s Nostril and the Meat Grinder.

Vallecito Top Attractions: Zip Lines

Vallecito Top Attractions: Moaning Cavern Zip Lines | Menka Belgal

At the launch tower | Menka Belgal

Okay, so this attraction is at Moaning Cavern Adventure Park too, but it deserves its own special mention not only because it’s so awesome, but also because some people prefer being above the ground to being underground. And Moaning Cavern opened the first zip lines in California – in fact they wrote the book for the state guidelines. Their design of side-by-side lines mean you can race your friend or enemy to the end in a battle of aerodynamics (there’s your hint for winning).

Tandem zip lines at Moaning Cavern Adventure Park

Tandem zip lines at Moaning Cavern Adventure Park | Menka Belgal

Here’s something else: the twin zip lines at Moaning Cavern offer a unique experience… we know of no other zip lines that offer a tandem ride for children. That’s right. Your little ones can zip line with you for a maximum combined weight of 270 lbs (122.5 kg) – which means your thrill-seeking youngster doesn’t have to miss out on this fun experience just because they’re too small. And they haven’t forgotten your pre-teen. As long as s/he is over 70 lbs (31.5 kg) and brave enough to step off the launch tower, s/he can fly solo.

Vallecito Top Attractions: Natural Bridges

Vallecito Top Attractions: Natural Bridges | Dave Bunnell

Upper entrance to Natural Bridges | Dave Bunnell

Natural Bridges is a gorgeous formation that you can swim or float through (bring your own equipment). Hike straight down to get to the lower entrance. To get to the upper entrance, return to the trail, turn left and hike uphill, then descend down. Keep an eye out for poison oak on the trail, and the rare glimpse of a rattler.

Vallecito Top Attractions: Natural Bridges | Dave Bunnell

Lower entrance | Dave Bunnell

This has become a very popular spot, so if you’re visiting during the summer, we recommend trying to come mid-week if you can. Sorry, no dogs allowed on this trail. Also, let your group know that the bathrooms they see at the trailhead are the only ones on the trail – and there’s no peeing allowed in the creek.

As usual, when enjoying our beautiful, natural environment, please follow our Hop Lightly guidelines to help keep these wildlife habitats, and yourself safe.

Vallecito Top Attractions: Vineyard Wine Tasting

Vallecito Top attractions: Ayrael Vieux | CWA

Ayrael Vieux Winery in Douglas Flat | Calaveras Winegrape Alliance

Wine tasting in Vallecito (we’ve included the little town of Douglas Flat in this list) takes place at beautiful vineyards in this rolling hills terrain. One of the best things about wine tasting in Calaveras County, is that you’re usually greeted by the winemaker or winery owner and they’re happy to give you a little tour or answer your questions about their wine making process. There’s no attitude here – we like to say we’re a snob-free zone – but instead you’ll find a friendliness that most wine regions cannot match.

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And we have the Rubber Chicken National Forest at Twisted Oak’s vineyard – a fun drive to the winery along a twisting gravel road with humorous signs and rubber chickens hanging from the trees – just a taste of the humor you will encounter in their well-stocked tasting room.

Four Winds Cellars

Wine tasting at Four Winds Cellars

If you’d rather have someone else drive and be your tour guide while you taste wine, Courtwood Wine Tasting Tours can set you up with a VIP experience going behind the scenes to learn more about each individual winery and pairing your wines with delicious bites. Meanwhile, there’s also plenty of wine tasting to be enjoyed in historic downtown Murphys – just 5-10 minutes’ drive and over a dozen tasting rooms all within strolling distance.

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