Golden Dome Cave is a large lava tube in Lava Beds National Monument. It is great if you are feeling adventurous and want to do some more legit caving. This cave has a less defined trail and some areas which require you to bend over to get through, so it feels more intense than many of the other entry-level caves in the park. That being said, it is an excellent cave to see as it has unique yellow ceilings from the bacteria that comes from the light reflecting off the water in the cave. Here is all the information so you can check it out.
- 2,229 feet
- Must have a flashlight
- Not recommended for beginners, or at least do a few other caves in the park first
- This information is from my visit in 2016 and 2018
- Read about the entire park here
Golden Dome Cave is one of the first caves you will reach when leaving the visitors center on Cave Loop. There is a parking pullout right near the entrance.
The cave is about 10 feet from where you park, so you can’t miss it. The entry to this cave is more intense than the others I did. It has a very steep staircase and rocks that get really close to the stairs, requiring you to hug the stairwell since the opening is so narrow.
Once you drop into the cave, you can go one of two directions, but the left of the staircase is the primary area. This cave has a very rough floor, so make sure you bring your flashlight and are paying attention.
As you proceed back, it goes through a series of splits, which can be a little scary. Just note which way you went initially, and it is pretty much just a figure eight, so you will be going around in a circle more than getting lost if you forget your way.
I can honestly say that I am not sure if there is one particular section that qualifies as the golden dome here. I explored for a while and saw a lot of the yellow ceiling, which was really cool, but without markers, I had a hard time finding an exact section I thought fit the bill.
The cave has a lot of places you will be ducking under as well, which makes it seem more intense and gets your adrenaline going. The good thing is that it’s popular and if you feel lost there are usually other people nearby you can ask or follow.
We did find one section near the end that had a lot of the vibrant yellow on the ceiling, which was cool. After exploring for about 20 minutes, we connected with another group and headed to the exit.
This is a fun cave to explore, but I would recommend you make it one of the last ones you do as the other caves will help give you a taste of what to expect before diving into the medium level caves like Golden Dome. Check out some of my other favorite caves spots to explore in the park here.