Balconies Cave is CLOSED
Due to recent rains and high water, the entrance gates to the Balconies Cave is closed. Hikers may bypass the cave area using the Balconies Cliff Trail. The Bear Gulch Cave on the east side of the park fully open. 3/3/2014
Bear Gulch Cave is OPEN!
Park biologists went up to Bear Gulch Cave this morning and found that the Townsend's Big Eared Bat colony has dispersed. The Bear Gulch Cave is fully open. 3/3/2014 More »
Status of the Caves
Information About the Seasonal Opening of the Bear Gulch Cave
The Bear Gulch Cave provides a home to a colony of Townsend's big-eared bats as they rest there in winter and raise their young in the late spring and summer. Townsend's big-eared bats are listed as a "sensitive species" by the state of California, and we are required to protect them. The colony in the Bear Gulch Cave is the largest maternity colony between San Francisco and Mexico.
The lower half of the Bear Gulch Cave is usually open from mid-July through mid-May each year, depending on the presence of the colony of bats. The entire cave is closed from mid-May to mid-July while the bats are raising their young.
We have constructed a gate that will allow us to open approximately half of the cave to the public while still protecting the colony of Townsend's big-eared bats. A new trail leaves the middle of the cave and connects with the Moses Spring Trail, which leads to the reservoir.
As long as the hibernating colony of bats shows no signs of disturbance, we plan to keep over half of the Bear Gulch Cave open for almost ten months each year, from mid-July through mid-May. During especially warm springs, however, it's possible that the entire cave will be closed before mid-May if the maternity colony is present.
The entire cave will continue to be closed through late spring and early summer for pupping season, from mid-May through Mid-July. The entire Bear Gulch Cave will also be open twice a year for at least one week and up to four weeks each March and October, depending on the presence of the colony of bats.
Schedule of the Seasonal Opening of the Bear Gulch Cave
Video of Townsend's big-eared bats in the Bear Gulch Cave
Did You Know?
Dogs are not permitted on park trails. This allows for more frequent wildlife sightings, and ensures that other visitors will not be annoyed or frightened by dogs. Dogs are permitted on most US Forest Service trails.