Quick Guide To Lava Beds National Monument

Lava Beds National Monument lies on the North-Eastern flank of Medicine Lake Volcano. It is located in northeastern California, in Siskiyou and Modoc counties.

This monument covers the largest area covered by a volcano in the Cascade Range. It was established on 21 November 1925. This monument was added to the NRHP in 1991. The nearest city to this monument is Tuke Lake.

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History And Landscape

This monument lies in a region of lava flows and volcanic formations. The area of Lava Beds National Monument is approximately 73 square miles. It is surrounded by Modoc National Forest on three of its sides. The northern area is covered by Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Moreover, the area of Lava Beds National Monument can be majorly divided into two segments:

  • Main Segment: it constitutes lava flows and the bulk of the land area
  • Petroglyph Segment: it a small and detached section to the northeast
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The major eruption which occurred about 30,000 years ago is the cause of a large amount of lava present. Subsequently, it came from Mammoth Crater at the southern border. Thick blobs of lava formed the Spatter Cones. One can find many long cliffs or ridges along the faults.

Adventure In Lava Beds National Monument

If you are someone who loves to go on adventures, Lava Beds National Monument is the right place for you. One can explore above and below the ground. The two main attractions of Lava Beds National Monument are the historical sites.

They are the sites of the Modoc War and the Lava Tube Caves. Modoc War Sites are located in the northern segment of the park. In addition, a maximum number of caves can be found near the visitor center. The visitor center is located in the southern segment of the park.

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Tourists can go hiking, walking and take an overall tour of Lava Beds National Monument. One can even explore the area by themselves. Further,  Lava Beds even organizes special events such as Astronomy Day and Night Sky Event, Timeline Living History Event, etc.

Awesome Caving Experience

Would you believe that this place has almost 20 caves that can be explored? Seems quite interesting right?! One can visit these caves along with proper safety tools. It is advised to wear long sleeves and pants along with boots, kneepads, helmets, and gloves. Besides all of these things, flashlights and headlamps are a must.

Some of the current cave closures are as follows:-

  • Natural Bridge
  • Symbol Bridge
  • Big Painted Cave
  • Balcony Cave
  • Ovis – Paradise Alleys Cave
  • Blue Grotto Cave
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The primary reason for the closure of these caves is to protect maternal bat colonies. They are done in accordance with the park’s white-nose syndrome.

Individuals have to explore the caves with the help of stairways or ladders. Furthermore, these caves are divided into three groups based on their difficulty levels. Some of the least challenging caves are:

  • Heppe
  • Skull
  • Valentine
  • Ovis
  • Paradise Alley

The moderately challenging caves have rough floors and stooping low sections. Some of the moderately challenging caves are:

  • Indian Well
  • Golden Dome
  • Sunshine
  • Blue Grotto
  • Balcony and Boulevard
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Subsequently comes the third and the most challenging caves of Lava Beds National Monument. In these caves, one may even have to crawl in certain portions. Safety gear has to be there on compulsion. Some of the most challenging caves are:

  • Juniper
  • Thunderbolt
  • Labyrinth
  • Lava Brook
  • Hopkins Chocolate

Undeniably, this place has a lot to offer to its tourists. Lava Beds National Monument is an important place because it includes sites of many vital battles which took place during 1872-1873.

If you liked reading this article, also read: Travel Guide to Cathedral Peaks.