A Tour of the Lava Beds National Monument

North America - Editor - 09 June 2008

A Tour of the Lava Beds National Monument

On 12 November 1925, the Lava Beds National Monument, located in California, became a United States National Monument. Its significance to the country is due to it being the biggest collection of lava tube caves that can be found in North America and it is not only geologically vital but historically important. Lava Beds National Monument is a diverse desert landscape that was created by the force of volcanoes and decorated by the gentle hand of nature.

Between 1872 and 1873 the lava tube caves played an important role in the Modoc War. In the seemingly endless corridors of the caves, Captain Jack and his small group of fifty-three Modoc warriors used the caves as a stronghold. The Captain, the fighters and their families held off the troops of the United States Army for approximately five months from this vantage point. It is also the site where General E.R.S. Canby was killed at the hands of Captain Jack during a peace meeting that was held in April 1873.

When looking for reasons to visit Lava Beds National Monument there are many that come to mind. The breathtaking rugged and harsh landscapes provide visitors with magnificent views and sights, and with over seven hundred caves to explore, there is more than enough to keep tourists busy. Over and above the three hundred lava tube caves, visitors will also be able to see rock art and have the opportunity to stand on ancient battlefields. Of course the caves are home to bats and creatures, and most visitors are so busy climbing, crawling and exploring that the bats are hardly even noticed.

Even though the landscape seems to be too dry and harsh for animal life, most of the birds and animals of the region have adapted to the conditions and the volatile climate that varies from hot and humid, to ice cold and snow covered. Visitors should therefore be on the lookout for Cooper’s Hawks, various bat and myotis species, American badgers, Pacific tree frogs, lizards, snakes, Kangaroo rats, Bald Eagles, Mountain Bluebirds, raccoons and many more. Animal life at Lava Beds National Monument is found according to vegetation, and guides will be able to point tourists into the right direction to catch a glimpse of the wildlife.

With so much to explore and discover, visitors are urged to make use of the campsite (located near the visitor centre) for overnight stays and provides guests with restrooms, picnic tables, an amphitheatre and running water. The Lava Beds National Monument is an attraction full of surprises and unexpected natural wonder.


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