Oregon Lava River Caves

Lava River Cave


One of Oregon’s longest lava tunnels, the fascinating Lava River Cave is located south of Bend and stretches for nearly a mile.

  • This fascinating lava cave is one of the longest in Oregon, at 6,200 feet.
  • Dress warmly as the cave’s temperature is always about 42 degrees.
  • Located just over 12 miles from Bend about a mile from the visitor center in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

Overview

Lava river caves are often formed when volcanic eruptions occur. One of Oregon’s most notorious (and longest) lava tunnels is the Lava River Cave located in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument just south of Bend. The cave maintains a cool 42 degrees year round, so be sure to dress warmly before you set out to explore its secrets. You can rent a lantern for your excursion at the visitor center nearby.

Location & Information

The entrance to Lava River Caves, Oregon, is located about a mile south of the visitor center, and 12.5 miles from Bend. It is usually opens in early May and closes in mid-October.

Contact information: Deschutes National Forest, 1001 SW Emkay Drive, Bend, OR, 97702. Phone: 541-383-5300 or 541-593-2421 (visitor center). Visit the website here.

Activities

  • Wildlife viewing and birdwatching – A variety of wildlife and birds inhabit the area, including western gray squirrels, golden-mantled ground squirrels, pine martins, and mule deer. Bird enthusiasts may spot golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, robins, great horned owls, and red-shafted flickers in the area.
  • Lava Cast Forest – Formed around 7,000 years ago when Newberry Volcano erupted, the Lava Cast Forest contains molds of ancient pine trees.

Fun Facts

  • The cave is closed between November 1st and April 15th to protect the bats that hibernate in it. Visitors rarely see the nocturnal creatures.
  • Frozen lava drips in the cave are referred to as “lavacicles”.
  • Other caves in the national park include Lavacicle Cave, Charcoal Cave, and Skeleton Cave.
  • The Lava River Cave is approximately 6,200 feet long. In some places the ceiling is 60 feet high and the cave width reaches up to 50 feet.

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