Lava Beds National Monument, Tulelake

#89 of 609 in Nature in California
Must see · National Park · Nature / Park
Lava Beds National Monument is a place where you can smell the sage and juniper, listen to birds, and hike miles of lava flows or developed trails. Volcanic eruptions on the Medicine Lake shield volcano have created an incredibly rugged landscape punctuated by cinder cones, lava flows, spatter cones, lava tube caves and pit craters. Explore caves created by the sudden cooling of lava flows, or visit the site of the only Indian war in California at the historic Captain Jack’s Stronghold. The Stronghold, a natural lava fortress, is where a small band of 53 warriors and their families led by Captain Jack held off a force 20 times its size for five months. Just south of the Lava Beds is Medicine Lake ’s volcano, one of the largest shield volcanoes in the world. In actual mass, this volcano is larger than Mt. Shasta . Millions of eruptions over half a million years were gentle rather than explosive, covering more than 750 square miles of landscape with lava. A visit Glass Mountain offers fields of obsidian shining in the sun like black diamonds. At the crest of the mountain, Medicine Lake is a great place for camping, swimming and fishing.

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Lava Beds National Monument reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
354 reviews
  • Super views of a huge lava bed, and numerous, well managed caves open for exploration. Close-by nature refuge great for bird watching as well.  more »
  • This truly is one of the hidden gems in California and the West. Plan on staying a full day. Then, find the level of caving you want to experience and spend the day exploring them all. Bring a...  more »
  • Must see, get the cave pass and do some exploring. Be careful though, of jagged rocks and sensitive bats. I recommend long rugged pants, light jacket, bright flashlights (bring a few), gloves, and a hat or helmet and gear to pack out everything you bring in- even bathroom supplies (for the more difficult caves). There are many caves for many skill levels, and lots to do and see above ground as well. Be aware there's fees to enter the park. Highly recommend!
  • I've been visiting the park for more than 20 years and love it so much that I had Captain Jack's Stronghold tattooed on me. The Lava Beds are a place of incredible peace, history and wonder. The caves are a great way to cool off on a hot day and there's always wildlife to be seen. The backdrop of Mt. Shasta makes for gorgeous pictures and there is activity for all ages (we took our 2 year old caving!) and experience levels. Put it in your bucket list. You won't regret it!

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