Lava Beds National Monument has the largest collection of lava tube caves in North America. The caves were formed by lava flows 30,000-40,000 years ago. The flows started cooling and hardening on the bottom, then up the sides, and finally on top – all while hot lava was still flowing through the middle etching out caves.
After checking out the visitors center, we went to explore our first cave – the only lit cave in the park – Mushpot Cave.
Our next cave, Sunshine Cave, had no lights, but did have two spots where the top of the cave collapsed letting sunlight in. It was pretty neat to see plants growing in a cave!
Our last cave was Skull Cave. This cave was HUGE! Like a submarine could fit in it huge. Cold air gets trapped in Skull Cave leaving year round patches of ice on the cave floor – accessible by a nice trail and then a bunch of stairs. Once we got to the bottom of the cave, there was absolutely no light. Charlotte wanted to try to make it back up the stairs without flashlights, but the rest of us talked her out of that idea!
Picture taken by a pretty awesome 4 year old photographer!
After all of our cave exploring, it was time to hop back in the car and drive on to our next destination – Oregon. A stop in Oregon was totally unplanned, but that’s what makes road trips so great!
Did you miss any of our vacation posts? You can catch up here:
Turtle Bay Exploration Park – Redding, CA
Lassen Volcanic National Park & Drakesbad Guest Ranch
Wildlife Safari – Winston, OR & Prehistoric Gardens – Port Orford, OR
Big Trees & Big Wine – Northern California