Make sure you get a map for each cave you want to check out. Some caves are easy to get lost in, and not everyone can pull off being Indiana Jones
The visitor’s center provides free flashlights (but they’re somewhat dim, so you might as well bring a strong one-- not a 99 cent one you pick up from the convenience store)
The land that was later to become Lava Beds National Monument, as well as the highlands to the south and wetlands to the north, was home to paleolithic peoples for thousands of years. This area is still infused with cultural and spiritual importance for many modern people of Modoc and Klamath descent.
The winter of 1872-1873 was a troubled one in the Lava Beds, where a small band of Modoc Indians was besieged by a US Army force outnumbering them as much as ten to one. The majority of the battlefields of this conflict, known as the Modoc War, are located within the monument and are still preserved today.
Like most National Park Service sites during the Depression, newly established Lava Beds National Monument benefited from the work of a Civilian Conservation Corps crew. Between 1935 and 1942, hundreds of "CCC boys" constructed all of the original infrastructure of the monument, much of which you can still drive on, walk on, and enjoy during a visit more than sixty years later.
A host of colorful characters populate the early modern history of Lava Beds, including J.D. Howard, a cave explorer; homesteading families that ran sheep and an underground ice skating business; and moonshiners who set up stills in the remote caves during Prohibition.