Down the hill from the Porter Meadow in the shadow of Empire Grade’s steady traffic, a quintessential UC Santa Cruz landmark lies hidden but not forgotten.
Part of the Cave Gulch system, it is the Empire Cave, more commonly known as the “Porter Caves.”
The Cave Gulch cavern system also includes the “Hell Hole Cave,” part of Wilder Ranch State Park, located just off campus. The exterior walls of these caverns differ only marginally from the surrounding surface level ecosystems except for their graffiti-covered walls and the orphaned beer bottles and abandoned aerosol cans resting on the ground. Inside the caves, however, are animal habitats not found anywhere else in the world.