THREE RIVERS, Calif. (KFSN) -- A steep half mile hike brings visitors to Crystal Cave. As you approach the entrance the air gets colder-- a big spider web gate first built in 1940 allows bats to travel in and out.
Crystal Cave's darkness draws you to the light and the surreal features it reveals. The sound of water rushing over rippled marble fills the air.
Katie Wightman pointed out spectacular features like the cave curtains inside this underground wilderness.
"All of this beauty is hidden in that darkness and it's only through light that we're able to see it."
Visitors can even see their own breath because of the cold temperatures in the cave. It may be sizzling outside but inside Crystal Cave it is a chilly 50 degrees-- and Mother Nature's air conditioning runs year round.
Drop by drop "soda straws" began forming into massive stalactites hundreds of thousands of years ago.
"As water dissolves the marble we're left with that mineral calcite, which has formed our speleothems inside the cave," said Wightman.
That sparkling calcite gave Crystal Cave its name; some of the passages are tight fits but you're rewarded at every turn. Our cameras shed light on the cave popcorn and the cave organ, but visitors will also experience this in complete darkness.
"You'll start to hear the cave and hear the cave growing," said Wightman.
Stefan Weeks and his five-year-old son Zaiden came all the way from Virginia.
"He liked the water that dripped on his head occasionally."
"They look up and get a droplet of water on their head. We call it a cave kiss," said Wightman.
The artistic nature of Crystal Cave gives it the feel of a Hollywood set with the Transformer Face and the Dragon-- but it is not.
"You cannot beat Mother Nature, so this is completely natural," said Wightman.
Our journey into the dark unknown was an educational tour.
"You can measure the scallops and see how fast or how slow the water was moving," said Wightman.
Weeks figures caving will become his new hobby.
"Oh it was amazing. I really liked it. Everything was awesome. I've never been in a cave like that before. My favorite part was probably all the water running through it."
And that running water keeps Crystal Cave so cool no one wants to leave.
Crystal Cave closes for the season October first-- if you go do not forget your mosquito spray for the hike.
For admission information click here.