Lava Beds National Monument Guide: Caves, Buttes & Lava Fields

Lava Beds National Monument is the best park you have never been to. It is so far up in the Northeast part of California that it took me five years to finally make it, but I am glad I did. The monument itself has over 46,000 acres and on that property, it features more than 700 caves. Only 20 or so are easily accessed, but even if you don't like caving, the park has hiking trails, history and more to get you excited. If it takes you five years to make it there like it took me, use this guide to find some of the park's best attractions.

Caves

Of course, the reason to go is to explore the caves, and the five below are the best that I saw during my visit. Each one has something unique that sets it apart from the others, so don't just visit one while you are there.

Skull Cave

Sentinel Cave

Sunshine Cave

Mushpot Cave

Golden Dome Cave

Hiking

Not to be outdone by the caves, there are a couple great hiking trails here. I have only got a chance to check out one, but it was great and provided amazing views.

Schonchin Butte

Lava Fields

While driving through the park, you will reach one particular part that is especially amazing for viewing lava fields, Devils Homestead Flow. This overlook provides a view of lava rock that goes almost as far as the eye can see. You can see it below.

Visitors Center

The park visitor center has information about the area and maps which show you how long each cave is. It is worth stopping by just for this, but if you forgot a hard hat or a flashlight, they were even checking them out from the visitors center if you left an ID.

visitors center-1

Highlight Video

This short video shows some of the highlights from my time exploring the park.

Food & Gas

Unfortunately, there are no places for food or gas in the park, so make sure to bring in what you need.

Where to Stay

There is a campground in the park right next to the visitor's center. Other than that there is nowhere else to stay in the park.

FAQ

Where do I get a map?
You will receive a map with information on the park when you enter. Visit the Visitor's Center for more information on the caves themselves.

How much does it cost?
Current price is $15 but I always spring for the year pass to all the National Parks which is $80.

What if I forget a flashlight?
Without a flashlight you will not be able to enjoy the park, as the phone flashlight does not cut it. You can usually check one out from the Visitor's Center though if it is open and they have some available.

Additional Information
My friend Chris wrote a great post about his favorite caves here and check out the NPS site for more info.

Now it is your turn, what did I leave off this list that you love exploring in Lava Beds National Monument? Be sure to leave them in the comments so that others can find them as well.

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About JoshMc

Thanks for checking out the blog, I am happy to be sharing my adventures with you! You can get to know me by reading my about me, which includes a video and additional information on the site, myself and my full disclosure. Also, follow along on Twitter here or read all of my posts on this blog here.

  • Mike Lee

    Another on my bucket list…I’ve camped at Medicine Lake twice and still not made it into the park (too much fishing to do on those trips…lol). Another great post, Josh.

    • haha I know what you mean! It is worth carving out some time for it though!