Developed volcanic caves, history and culture are what you’ll find at the one of a kind Lava Beds National Monument. An enormous shield volcano has created a diverse landscape with over 700 lava tube caves, many of which have been improved for visitors and have easy to follow trails, ladders or staircases, and, in one case, lights. The Ranger Station offers guided tours through many of the caves from Memorial day through Labor Day, and in the winter you can sign up for a tour of an ice cave!
If you plan on exploring the caves on your own, be sure to bring a flashlight, helmet and sturdy footwear. It’s also a good idea to visit the website to see which caves are recommended for your skill and fitness level.
Caving is not the only draw to Lava Beds. It is also one of the longest continually occupied areas in Northern California, and there and history abounds there. You can see ancient Native American rock art and unearthed archeological discoveries. It is also the site of the Modoc War, and the battlefields are preserved in the park. Homesteaders, explorers and the Civilian Conservation Corps have also left their mark in this fascinating area. Please note: There are no gas stations at Lava Beds, so depending on your route, you’ll want to stop for fuel in Tulelake or Alturas in California, or Klamath Falls or Merrill in Oregon.