Tulelake, California: Lava Beds National Monument

This mostly-empty place features labyrinths of lava tube caves. The fattest is 100 feet in diameter; some basalt tunnels are over a mile long with a constant 55 F degree temperature. Mushpot Cave is the only lava tube with electric lights.
5000 Hill Rd, Tulelake, CA
From the I-5 take U.S. 97 north at Weed to a right turn on California Hwy. 161, also known as Stateline Road, as shown by large signs. Travel east on CA 161 through the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge to Hill Road. Turn right on Hill Road at the Westside Market, following monument signs. Travel south on Hill Road 10 miles until you enter Lava Beds National Monument. Many of the caves are just off of Cave Loop Rd.
Daily summer 8-6, off-season 8:30-5. Bring water, food, and a dependable flashlight. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
$15.00 per vehicle
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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Visitor Tips and News About Lava Beds National Monument

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Cave in the lava beds.

Lava Beds National Monument

My boys (ages 10 and 19) loved these caves, and didn't want to leave! They especially enjoyed Valentine Cave with its labyrinth of passages. 777 caves have been discovered in this park, making it the most dense cave system in all of America.

Note: wear long pants, and bring plenty of food and water as there aren't any restaurants around. Flashlights can be checked out free at the visitor's center, but must be turned in by 5:30. Also, several caves close at 5:30, so plan on coming early. These caves are to be toured on your own -- there are not tour guides.

[Jolynn, 08/05/2011]

Nearby Offbeat Places

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In the region:
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