A lava tube is one of those crazy natural phenomena that you just have to experience. While the best ones in California are up by Lassen National Park and Lava Beds National Monument, this lava tube in Mojave National Preserve is worth the rough road you have to drive to get to it. When I say rough, I do mean that I wouldn’t take this drive in a small Honda Civic; while not horrible, it is pretty sketchy in some parts, especially with the rocks; however, if you make it there, you will be rewarded with a story to tell. Here is all the information.
- Quarter mile each way hiking to the tube
- 5-mile dirt road drive each way
- About 500 feet long
- The cave is 3 feet tall in its shortest part but still about 10 feet wide there
- The best time to see the light is around midday – 11 AM – 1 PM, but, of course, it depends on the clouds and other factors as well.
After driving 5 miles down an unmarked road in the northwest part of the preserve (the road is precisely 15 miles from the Kelso Depot, so watch your odometer), you will reach the turn out for the road to the lava tube trailhead. The trailhead is in the middle of nowhere and is 5 miles from the main road, so be smart if you head out there as it does not see much traffic.
From the trailhead, you will be walking over tar-black volcanic rocks as you head up a small incline.
After about a quarter of a mile, you will see a spur to the right-hand side and a small sign, this is the way you go, and the tube entrance is pretty close to here.
As you walk up to the entrance, take notice of the two holes that you will pass, one big and one small, those are the areas that the light shines through when you are in the tube, so you are pretty much walking over it right now.
The Lava Tube
After the second hole, you will see the entrance to the tube, and it’s 16 steps down into it.
The stairs are steep and rickety but not scary at all; however, when you get down and start heading in, you will want to bring out your flashlight.
As soon as you get into the tube, you will see the small area you need to go under, it’s not too long so it shouldn’t be too scary, but you will have to get low as you go through.
As soon as you hit the main cavern, you will be greeted with the fantastic view from the light cascading elegantly into the cave floor. I couldn’t stop taking pictures of this as it is impressive.
After this area, you will see the end of the cave and another small beam of light, not as spectacular as the other, but still awe-inspiring.
I spent a lot of time in this cave and noticed that the small dust particles in the air were what made the beam of light so beautiful.
When you have taken all the pictures you want, you can head out the entrance and back to your car. Be sure to keep this area beautiful as it is an excellent lava tube in Southern California and worth protecting.