Lava Beds National Monument

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About Lava Beds National Monument

Nestled in the middle of Mudoc National Forest and below Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Lava Beds National Monument is definitely worth the (somewhat bumpy) drive. There’s no other park like this one-- with tens of caves and a handful of craters, this is a geological wonder! Come for the incredible caves (I mean, one has glowing gold walls and another has ancient pictographs. You need to see it to believe it!) and stay for the beauty and all the other other cool things to do here. You’ll be sure to lav-a this national monument!

Campgrounds in Lava Beds

Indian Well Campground

1. Indian Well Campground

This used to be home to the Modoc Native Americans, and this campground really lets you experience how it feels to live surrounded by diverse...

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Lava Beds
hipcamper
June 5th, 2015
Lava Beds
hipcamper
June 5th, 2015
Lava Beds
hipcamper
June 5th, 2015
Lava Beds
hipcamper
June 5th, 2015

7 Reviews

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If you’ve been caving before (particularly east of the Rockies or in Europe), leave your gear at home to avoid spreading white-nose syndrome for bats

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This is a resort for birds and birders alike. The species diversity is incredible! Check out the wildlife watching under the activities tab

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Excellent place to go caving! You’ll hit the jackpot with Golden Dome cave (it glows!!) and the delicious Hopkins Chocolate cave (sadly not made of chocolate, but it has graffiti from 1892!)

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Choose your footwear wisely if you’re planning on caving. No naked ankles-- with all the rocks, it won’t be a pretty sight

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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

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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)

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Come early in the week to avoid crowds and score an awesome campsite

History of Lava Beds National Monument

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.