Lava Beds National Monument is a place where you can smell the sage and juniper, hear the birds, crawl beneath the surface of the earth, hike through miles of ancient lava flows, and learn about the cultural heritage of the Modocs.
Situated on a small 47,000 acre portion of the Medicine Lake shield volcano, Lava Beds National Monument was formed from a series of eruptions over the course of the past 500,000 years. This activity has created an incredibly rugged landscape punctuated by both developed and undeveloped caves, cinder cones such as Schonchin Butte that provide expansive views of the Tule Lake Basin and Modoc National Forest, and jagged lava flows like Devil's Homestead.
Many of the caves and features at Lava Beds National Monument show evidence of the human influence on the landscape. Native American cave paintings, called pictographs or petroglyphs, were created by the Modocs and can be seen at Big Painted Cave and Symbol Bridge, while hundreds of rock carvings can be found at Petroglyph Point.
The geologic and cultural histories collide in a unique way at Captain Jack's Stronghold, a natural lava fortress where Captain Jack and a group of 53 Modoc warriors and their families held out against the United States military for five months during the Modoc War of 1872 to 1873. Whether looking through exhibits at the visitor center, hiking the trails, or exploring the caves, experience the diverse opportunities at Lava Beds National Monument on your own, or through guided tours.
You may reserve tours up to 21 days in advance. Both tours are seasonal--the park offers the Fern Cave tour from approximately June through September, and the Crystal Ice Cave tour from approximately January through March.
Please view our photos at http://www.nps.gov/labe/planyourvisit/crystalicecavetours. This is a strenuous excursion for people 12 years and older in very good physical condition. Tour participants must use upper body strength to ascend a 50-foot long sloped ice floor using a rope, be able to crawl through a tight hole, and have enough fitness and coordination to scramble over loose rock. The tour also requires participants to climb using arms and legs and negotiate boulder-strewn floors and icy patches safely. Please see our photos of this tour to give yourself a better idea of what you will be doing on this tour.
This tour is not appropriate for people with major medical conditions such as: heart disease, arthritis, or osteoporosis, or those with a fear of heights or enclosed areas. Temperatures in the cave are usually below freezing 32°F/0°C.
When caving, we recommend wearing appropriate safety gear including long sleeves, long pants, closed-toed shoes or boots, gloves, kneepads, and helmets. Gloves, kneepads, helmets, and flashlights can be purchased at the visitor center.
If you have boots or other gear that has been in caves or mines outside of Lava Beds National Monument, please leave these items at home. This is an effort to prevent the spread of white-nose Syndrome, a deadly fungal bat disease.
Visitors may check out free flashlights at the visitor center but must return them each afternoon.
The main park road is open all year. However, not all roads outside the park are open during the winter and early spring months.
Children must be at least 12 years old to participate in both the Fern Cave and Ice Cave tours and must be accompanied by an adult.
Rangers have the right to refuse tours to those appear unfit. The tour requires climbing two ladders in addition to the 50 feet ice slope.
Starting January 1, 2019 the park entrance fee will be $25 per vehicle.
No refunds once tour starts. See Facility Rates for fees.
PO Box 1240 Tulelake CA 96134