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Sunny Jim Cave – La Jolla California
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Overview
Location

La Jolla California – just north of San Diego.

Sights

Sunny Jim Cave, awesome tunnel going down to the seashore.

Distance

There are 145 steps leading to the cave.

Parking Lot Elevation

95 ft

Summit Elevation

Sea Level

Elevation Gain/Loss

95 ft

Time Required

<1 hour

Pets

Not allowed

Fees

$4 per adult. $3 for 16 years and younger. Please check for current rates.

Water Info

You will be going right next to the ocean. Bring a bottle of water if needed.

Best Season

All

Hours

Open year round. Typically open from 10am to 5:30pm

Sun Exposure

None

Trail Condition

Concrete stairs. The stairs are lighted so you don't need to bring a flashlight.

Restrooms

In gallery

Visitor Center

Yes, at top in the Cave Store.

Camping

Not allowed

Food

Not needed. Very short trek

Equipment

Camera

The Sunny Jim cave features a 145 step tunnel which leads you down to sea level where you will meet up with the cave itself.

GPS Coordinates:

Sunny Jim Cave:  32° 50.950’N, 117° 16.214’W

Trail Map:

Driving Directions:

Parking is hard to come by so you may have to park down the street and just walk back.


The Trail:

Here is the outside of the tunnel that leads to the cave.

Here is the outside of the tunnel that leads to the cave.

You can only access the Sunny Jim Cave by going through the tunnel or by kayak.

The entrance to the tunnel is setup as a store with jewelry and other interesting things to buy, called “The Cave Store”.  My family and I weren’t interested in the store but the man who owns it has lots of information about the cave and La Jolla in general and he was really friendly too.

The tunnel was carved by a few “laborers” that were put to work by Gustav Shultz.  I asked the shop owner what kind of “laborers” were hired by Gustav Shultz and he said with a smile”they were ‘hired’ Asian workers…” I think he was implying that they didn’t receive any wages for their two years of digging the tunnel.

Inside the Cave Store

Inside the Cave Store


The tunnel entrance

The tunnel entrance

The Tunnel was dug back in 1902 and a few years after that wooden steps were added.  It also has lights and a hand railing to aid visitors down to the cave.  The entrance to the tunnel is just right in the store – you can’t miss it.

There is a small fee for visiting the tunnel and cave below. When we were there it was $4 per adult.


The tunnel on the way down is actually really cool!

The tunnel on the way down is actually really cool!

Here we are going down the advertised 145 stairs.  My brother and I both counted 144 stairs…

Sunny Jim Cave

Sunny Jim Cave

Sunny Jim Cave

The tunnel is quite amazing and you can see the different layers of dirt, clay and rock as you go down to the cave.


At the bottom of the Tunnel and in the Sunny Jim Cave

At the bottom of the Tunnel and in the Sunny Jim Cave

At the bottom of the tunnel there is a nice boardwalk that you can walk towards the opening of the cave and look out towards the ocean.  We could hear sea lions the entire time while we were down there.  It is a very impressive sight.

Here is Sunny Jim

Here is Sunny Jim

Frank Baum, who is the author of The Wizard of Oz, named the cave Sunny Jim Cave because apparently the opening to the cave looks somewhat similar to a cartoon character mascot for the British Wheat cereal products during the 1920’s.


The Return:

Head back up the 145, or is it 144 stairs??


Personal Thoughts:

The Sunny Jim Cave is impressive but I think the tunnel down to the cave is even more impressive.  From the cavestore.com which is run by the same people who own the tunnel and cave, they claim that the Encyclopedia Americana called this cave one of the “must” see sights in Southern California.  Now, I don’t necessarily agree with that statement but I still do think it is pretty cool.

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Walking Down the Sunny Jim Cave tunnel

Ratings (out of 10)
Trek Planner Rating
User Rating
Rate Here
Difficulty
1.5
Technicality
1.5
Enjoyment
4.0
The Bottom Line

Difficulty is basically the length, duration and stress of the Trek.  If the Trek is really long then it will receive a higher rating. If the Trek is short then it won't receive that high of a rating. However, difficulty rating also includes how tired we were at the end of the Trek.

Technicality is how strenuous the Trek is. If there is lots of bouldering or if there is bushwhacking involved then the rating will be higher. Technicality also includes if there are steep inclines or the need for ropes and other equipment.

Enjoyment is strictly how much fun we had doing the Trek. Regardless of how tired and exhausted we were, if we had a ton of fun doing the Trek then it will receive a higher rating.

4.3
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About The Author
Jeff Johnson
Questions or comments? I'd love to hear from you! JeffTJohnson@ymail.com

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