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Stardew Valley: Skull Cavern Guide & Tips

The Skull Cavern in Stardew Valley is a treasure trove of opportunity. This endless cavern is full of rare monsters and resources, and there are even a couple of surprises waiting down in its depths. Our guide will be going over everything you need to know about the Skull Cavern in Stardew Valley and tips on how you can make the most out of its unique opportunities.

Let’s get started!

How to Unlock Skull Cavern

The Mines (Floor 120) - Stardew Valley Skull Cavern Tips
Image: ConcernedApe via HGG / Ethan Erekson

Before you can get to Skull Cavern, you’ll need to do a couple of things. The first of which is getting the Skull Key, which can be found at the bottom of the Mines in Stardew Valley. If you haven’t done that yet, be sure to check out our Mines guide to help you out.

Calico Desert
Image: ConcernedApe via HGG / Ethan Erekson

The second part of getting to the Skull Cavern is getting to the Calico Desert, which is where the Skull Cavern is located. This can be done by unlocking the bus, either through the Joja Community Development Form or by completing the Vault bundles in the Community Center.

Regardless of which one you do, you’ll need a fair bit of money to complete the task. But once you do repair the bus stop, you’ll be able to travel to and from the Calico Desert and finally be able to venture into the Skull Cavern.

The Skull Cavern isn’t all the desert has to offer. The Oasis sells seeds that you can use to grow valuable crops. The Desert Trader has a variety of rotating stock. Many of the items offered there can be very helpful down in the Skull Cavern. And if you have a Prismatic Shard, you can take it to the Three Pillars to get the Galaxy Sword, which is a strong weapon and something you’ll need to get the best weapons in the game. You’ll need to be prepared if you want to make the most of Skull Cavern, and chances are that the different merchants and locations in the Calico Desert will have what you need.

Skull Cavern & Features

The Cavern Itself - Stardew Valley Skull Cavern Tips
Image: ConcernedApe via HGG / Ethan Erekson

From mechanics to monsters, Skull Cavern has a lot of similarities to the Mines. A lot of the techniques that work in the Mines also work quite well here. For the most part, you can just use the same food and equipment that helped get you through the Mines. However, some key differences and new challenges will test your skills and abilities if you really want to take advantage of what the Skull Cavern offers.

First of all, the Skull Cavern is infinite, and greater risk and rewards await you the further down you go. There are also no checkpoints anywhere in Skull Cavern, so however far down you go, you only have one day to do it. You have to manage your time wisely and work efficiently. If too much time is spent on the upper levels, you won’t be able to claim the treasures down below, and you have to try again another day.

After you first venture into the Skull Cavern, you’ll receive a note challenging you to make it to Floor 25. Your skills will be put to the test, and if you succeed, you’ll receive a 10,000g reward. However, this is just the first of many challenges you’ll have to complete if you want to make the most of your time in the Skull Cavern.

Bombs & Staircases

Bombs & Staircases
Image: ConcernedApe via HGG / Ethan Erekson

With upgraded tools, food buffs, and shafts, getting to Floor 25 shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but if you want to progress further, you’ll need to get through floors much faster. One of the best tips for quickly traversing Skull Cavern (and really any place in Stardew Valley) is to bring plenty of bombs and staircases.

Bombs let you clear vast quantities of stone and ore in an instant, letting you mine and collect them quickly, along with speeding up the process of finding ladders and shafts. However, if you want to get down even faster, then you can always use a staircase to immediately go to the next level. Just keep in mind that you’ll likely be leaving some useful resources behind, though more valuable ones can be found below.

Bombs and staircases are both craftable items, but if you’re ever short on resources, you can always head over to the Desert Trader. The Desert Trader has all sorts of helpful items for trade, and among their daily stock are bombs and mega bombs. All you need is 5 quartz (or a diamond for mega bombs), and you’ll get the explosives you need. Of course, you can always pay a visit to the Mines and talk to the Dwarf if you’d rather exchange your hard earned cash instead of gemstones.

However, you’ll definitely want to trade with the Desert Trader on Sundays, as they’ll have staircases in stock, and all you need to exchange for them is some Jade. That’s much better than the 100 stone you normally need to craft staircases. And if you make use of a couple crystalariums, you’ll have all the Jade you need.

Monsters, Drops, & Loot

Monster Drops and Loot - Stardew Valley Skull Cavern Tips
Image: ConcernedApe via HGG / Ethan Erekson

As you venture through the Skull Cavern with your staircases, bombs, and skill, you’ll come across a variety of monsters, many of which are similar to those found in the Mines. You got bats, bugs, crabs, and slimes, along with a couple others.

Of course, these monsters are stronger and more dangerous than anything found in the Mines. Armored Bugs require specific enchantments to be slain. Mummies need to be destroyed with a bomb after they’re killed, otherwise they’ll rise again. And the Big Slimes can split into smaller ones after taking damage. There’s also fire-breathing dinosaurs. However, you probably don’t want to pass these monsters by — along with the extra danger comes significantly better drops.

One of the more notable drops is iriduim, which is one of the more useful ores in Stardew Valley, especially in the late game. Towards the surface, you can find Purple Slimes, which are among the monsters that drop iridium. As you venture further down, you can also find Iridium Crabs and Iridium Bats. Out of these monsters, Iridium Bats are the most worthwhile. Besides having the best drop rates for iridium ore, they even have a slim chance of dropping iridium bars!

There’s also other helpful drops. Carbon Ghosts are a reliable source of omni geodes, which are great to have on hand for trading with the Desert Trader. There are also monster drops that can help you with getting through the remainder of Skull Cavern. While slaying Serpents is already worthwhile for getting rid of the annoyance, they notably drop useful supplies, including bombs and Spicy Eel. It’s always nice to have a cost effective way to replenish your bombs, even if it takes plenty of work.

Prehistoric Floors

Prehistoric floors
Image: ConcernedApe via HGG / Ethan Erekson

The Skull Cavern in Stardew Valley has infested floors like the Mines, but they’re a little more unique. The infested floors in Skull Cavern are prehistoric floors, and they’re filled with fire-breathing dinosaurs and mutated bugs.

You’ll need to be careful as the Pepper Rex prepares its fiery attack, as they can change the direction of their breath weapon quickly before they let it loose. If you sidestep it and then strike, you’ll have much better chances of taking it out.

Pepper Rexes usually drop a couple different prehistoric bones, but they also have a chance of dropping Dinosaur Eggs. One of the better tips for making money in Stardew Valley is to stay in Skull Cavern and just keep killing Pepper Rexes until you get some eggs. Once you get some, you can take them home and incubate them, and they’ll hatch into a Dinosaur after 11–12 days.

Having Dinosaurs on your farm is already pretty cool, though what makes it even better is that they produce additional Dinosaur Eggs, which you can sell for a fair amount. You can also turn them into Dinosaur Mayonnaise, which is even more valuable and sells for 800g. That’s also before any bonuses from the Rancher and Artisan professions. As such, you’ll definitely want to get your hands on these eggs once you get the chance.

Mining Iridium

Iridium - Stardew Valley Skull Cavern Tips
Image: ConcernedApe via HGG / Ethan Erekson

From monsters to treasure to prehistoric dinosaurs, there’s all sort of things to be found in the Skull Cavern in Stardew Valley. However, what really makes the place special is it’s plentiful supply of iridium and iridium nodes.

Of course, you can always go the monster hunter route and get iridium ore through the drops. But if you really want to maximize your iridium farming, then you’ll want to ascend deep into the Skull Cavern.

You see, the further down you go into the Skull Cavern, iridium nodes become more and more plentiful. As such, you’ll should try to get deep down early on. You’ll want to spend as much time as you can hunting for iridium instead of wasting it on the upper levels. There’s not really a specific floor you should aim for, but Floor 50 is a good start. If you can get there fairly quickly, then you should have plenty of time to get the iridium you need.

Reaching Floor 100 & Beyond

Secret 100th floor
Image: ConcernedApe via HGG / Ethan Erekson

Now, that’s pretty much it for the Skull Cavern in Stardew Valley, but if you’ve made it to the winter and have unlocked secret notes, then one final challenge remains. After finding Secret Note #10, you’ll learn that someone is waiting for you on Level 100 of Skull Cavern in Stardew Valley.

You have to make it down there in one day, so this challenge will put your skills to the test as you fight your way through 100 floors of monsters, resources, treasure, and more. Spicy Eel and Coffee can help speed you up, and bombs and staircases will certainly help you descend quickly.

However, if you still can’t make it in the limited amount of time, then you can always head over to the Desert Trader and get some Desert Warp Totems. These will help you get to the Desert earlier, giving you more time to take on the Skull Cavern.

Once you get there, you’ll be greeted by the mysterious Mr. Qi, who’ll commend you for your efforts. He has something for you, so use this information to take on the challenges of the Skull Cavern and find out what awaits you in the depths of the Skull Cavern in Stardew Valley.

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