From the issue Winter Fresh
Our Little Secret
A sacred and secretive plot of land southeast of Mount Diablo has been intriguing people for thousands of years, yet you probably haven't heard of it. Vasco Caves Regional Preserve—named for eroded depressions in magnificent sandstone outcroppings—is co-managed by East Bay Regional Parks and the Contra Costa Water District. The number of people who visit is intentionally limited and reservations must be made. Expect a leisurely 2-mile group-led hike through blooming buttercups and barren blue oaks in a place that's spiritually and culturally significant. (Ten-thousand-year-old Indian rock paintings can be seen on a few sandstone boulders.) Vasco Caves also happens to lie smack in the middle of the densest population of nesting golden eagles in the world. Keep your eyes peeled for this massive raptor or others, like the red-tailed hawk and prairie falcon. Your friendly and knowledgeable guide will help you spot endangered red-legged frogs, tiger salamanders and fairy shrimp found in seasonal vernal pools. Vasco Caves is a little world of its own. Just don't tell anyone else about it.
Vasco Caves is open for guided tours from October to December and February to May. The tour costs $34 per person. For information and reservations call 888-EBPARKS. No dogs.