“700,000 year old tube cave!”
This mile-long lava tube cave was formed roughly 700,000 years ago by molten rock that erupted from a volcanic vent in nearby Hart Prairie. The top, sides and bottom of the flow cooled and solidified first, after which the insides of the lava river continued to flow emptying out the present cave. Ample evidence of how the tube was born is written in the rocks of which it is formed. Small wave-like undulations in the floor are the remains of ripples frozen in the last trickle of molten rock that flowed from the cave. Stone icicles hanging from the ceiling show where a final blast of volcanic heat caused the rock to partially re-liquefy and drip. Dress appropriately when you come to visit, with warm clothes and sturdy shoes. The cave is as cool as 42° even in summer, and you may even find some ice inside. The rocks are always sharp and slippery, too. Bring two or three sources of light, in case one happens to fail, it can be very dark one mile from the nearest light source. Portions of the cave which were defaced by graffiti, have been recently cleaned up. Today's more environmentally aware visitors take better care of such a unique resource and report vandals when they see them. Access: Drive 9 miles north of Flagstaff on US 180 and turn west (left) on FR 245 (at milepost 230). Continue 3 miles to FR171 and turn south 1 mile to where FR 171B turns left a short distance to Lava River Cave.
The cave is great! Bring a jacket, pants, hiking shoes or durable sneakers, and a beanie/something warm for your head. Also don't forget to bring a powerful headlamp or flashlight with you. You will not be able to go very far without light! Have fun, and leave only footprints!
This was one of our favorite places on our road trip. To add to the flashlight and jackets, be ready for a long drive on dirt roads to get here, and your cell service may not work, which might impact your ability to use google maps. The intersections are not clearly marked, and it could be easy to lose your way. Save this map for offline use to get yourself back to the main road.
We camped for free just a few miles away and had a blast in the cave. A little chilly at the end of the cave but not terrible. Headlamps were really helpful.
One of the best surprise road trips my Dad ever took us on. Make sure you have sturdy shoes, dress in layers, & bring a decent light source. If your are clumsy like me, you might also want to wear a helmet.
It was a lot of fun and spooky when we went since we were the only ones in the cave. We went on a Sunday in July. Make sure to take LED flashlights they are the best for this cave. Use hiking shoes because it can be slippery in some areas.
The location of the lava caves are actually forest service rd 171 not 235. See the website
Great place for our family! Son is four and he hiked through the whole way. Really rugged and kids loved it. It's 3/4 mile to the end then again 3/4 back. As others said, bring jackets and flashlights.
This was a wonderful half day activity! We did this after our stop over in Williams and on our way to the Grand Canyon South Rim in November about three years ago. It was difficult to find the road to get to this cave and once we did, it was an unpaved forest road. Our 2WD vehicle did fine on this road. Someone else mentioned forest road 171, recommend taking that advice because it took us way too long to find the recommended GPS route. Absolutely recommend seeing this if you are into exploring. We explored the cave for about 2 hours and that was more than sufficient.
Loved this place! We stayed at a free campsite less than a mile away last march and found this spot easily. We were glad to have brought our headlamps and found that it was a bit cold inside but nothing unbearable. We met a lot of locals as there were quite a few people around.
The road is closed for winter you have to hoke the 4 miles
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Lava River Cave
- Mon - Fri: 8:00 am - 4:00 pm
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Not Wheelchair Accessible