Help Me Compile a List of United States Lava Tubes!

Bruce asked me for any good lava tubes in the lower 48. I know of a few off the top of my head, but when I did the Google, no list of lava tubes came up that I could find. This is insupportable, as we used to say in French class! We need a list of lava tubes open to visitors, stat.

I’ll begin with the ones I know, and you, my darlings, can chime in with the ones you know, and by the end of this, we shall have a nice, relatively complete list we can then publish here and at Rosetta Stones so that people can find it. We can include Alaska, Hawaii, and US Territories as well, why not! If you’ve been, and have got photos and a brief description of your adventure that you wouldn’t mind sending me to publish, you can email me at dhunterauthor at gmail.

Adventures with Lava Tubes in the Continental United States


Lava River Cave, Flagstaff. This is my second lava tube – the first one is, alas, closed to the public now. We visited whilst camping on the San Francisco Peaks. It’s part of the San Francisco Volcanic Field, and it is awesomesauce. It’s a mile long, and in most places, it’s quite comfortably big.



Lava Beds National Monument, Tulelake. This is a unique site, with a huge number of lava tubes in the flank of the Medicine Lake shield volcano. There are dozens of developed caves you can choose from, ranging from easy-peasy to ZOMG ARE YOU KIDDING.

Subway Cave, Lassen National Forest. This is a shorty, only 1/3 mile long, but you don’t have to crawl! Yay! A nice, simple tube with informational signs, suitable for learning about how lava travels. There are some nice descriptions of it here.



Craters of the Moon, Arco. There are hundreds of caves, including many lots of lava tubes, on the site; four lava tubes are easily accessible from the Cave Trail.


New Mexico

El Malpais National Monument, Grants. There are four excellent lava tubes accessible in this basalt badland. There are a variety of difficulty levels to choose from.



Lava River Cave Interpretive Site, Bend. This is a neato mile-long extravaganza of stairs and boardwalks through a tube in the Newberry Crater volcanic field.



Ape Cave Interpretive Site, Cougar. This is Mount St. Helens’s own lava tube! It’s the third longest lava tube in North America, and has a bunch of features common to lava tubes, including “subway” tracks, a skylight, and a lavafall. One of these days, B and I will have appropriate light sources and can show you it! But here’s the entrance while you wait.

Image shows B standing in the mouth of Ape Cave. The vaguely columnar basalt in the roof looks a bit like teeth. It looks like a great green forest monster with a gray mouth and bouldery teeth is about to chomp him all up! Or maybe lick his face like a happy puppy.
B in the gaping maw of Ape Cave.

This list is too small! Send me your lava tubes and make it bigger!

Help Me Compile a List of United States Lava Tubes!
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9 thoughts on “Help Me Compile a List of United States Lava Tubes!

  1. 2

    Thanks very much for this list. I am honored to have such great responses to two different requests. And thanks also for leading with Lava River Cave, northwest of Flagstaff. I was going to mention it to you the other day, but I had a computer problem (temporary). As I live in Arizona now, I am especially glad to see listings in this state.
    From a quick web search, I also saw the name of Kartchner Caverns, which is said to be carved out of limestone, and thus not a lava tube itself (Google searches can be very misleading). But I am wondering about the general geological requirements for formation of lava tubes. Wouldn’t it be possible to have formation of a lava tube anywhere that there ever had been volcanic activity? Or is there some other criterion required? And so to what extent does it seem reasonable that somewhere around Benson and the Kartchner Caverns area that there should be lava tubes somewhere? I don’t have any evidence of any, but just think it would be cool, and I am ignorant of what else is needed to get lava tube formation?
    By the way, do you have any old blog post links to any of your own visits to Arizona geological features?

  2. 6

    The Ape caves are awesome. I’ve hiked/climbed/scrambled the long one and had a fantastic time.

    I’ll have to see if I ever uploaded the pics anywhere and link to them.

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