Lava River Cave is a 0.8 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Flagstaff, AZ that features a cave and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
The Lava River Cave is a natural formation remaining from a lava tube. The entrance to the cave is a rapid rock covered decent that "levels off". The cave floor is the cooled waves of lava that once flowed; its very hard and uneven. There are some tight spots when crouching is required; large backpacks should be left at the surface. At the end of the main cave is a small cave just big enough to sit in; not for big guys or the claustrophobic.
Awesome hike. Make sure to bring a good flashlight or preferably a headlamp and plenty of battery. Went on a Thursday and only passed 4 other groups along the way. Requires a bit of scrambling to get in and out of the cave but fairly easy once you're in.
I wish I could've gone during the week. It wasn't super busy but I would've been able to enjoy it more I think with a little less traffic. Bring a sweatshirt and a head-lamp.
This has always been one of my favorite hikes in Northern Arizona! You'll definitely want to set aside a couple hours if planning to trek all the way to the end. Wearing light layers of clothing would be a good idea, as it can get down below 40 degrees. Flashlights are a must, but headlamps are preferable, especially while trying to make your way down to rocky decent down into the cave. Watch your step, and have a blast!
Fantastic day activity, impressive lava tube. Can handle the hike in boots or athletic shoes. Takes about 1.5 hours to the end and back. Animal friendly, busy on weekends as expected. Like others have mentioned, take a minute to turn off your lamps and enjoy the primordial dark, definitely worth it.
Cool experience. Not many formations and pretty crowded especially around the opening--we went on a Saturday, so that's not surprising. Still very unique, and it doesn't take much time to do. If you want to do something else close by, the Kendrick's Peak hike is only a 15 minute drive away, and we easily did both in one day. Headlamp is a must. Footing is very slippery and uneven, so boots/closed-toed shoes are also ideal. My crew did it in tevas, but everyone's feet got cut up. Also, according to the sign at the entrance, the temps are between 32 and 40 degrees in the cave and it is 0.75 miles each way if you go to the end of the cave. Sounds short, but allow extra time due to the footing and the crowds.
Wasn't expecting to love this one as much as I did. Make sure you take a good flashlight! And someone to go with I wouldn't recommend it alone. You are in a pitch black cave the only light you have is the flashlight that you and those around you have! Views of the cave are beautiful. Take a jacket, take some hiking boots or something with good grips on your soles.
the cave is fantastic. well worth the drive out there!
Fun hike through the cave. It can be a little difficult to climb down or climb up the entrance due to high traffic and people having problems carrying their little children. It does get cold in the cave
Simple hike to cave, then fun little cave walk in a linear lava tube. Very rocky but not hard. Directions on alltrails will get you there. But, signage is not real visible. Keep your eyes open and you will get there. Their is no admission fee. Open Dawn to Dusk.
Amazing underground tunnel! Be sure to bring your headlamp!
Yup it's a cave. Sucks for tall people but otherwise pretty cool. Bring a flashlight.
Great for geology enthusiasts--rating it high for the geological significance. Wear your headlamps and shut them off at the end for a moment of Zen.
Really easy to get to, and inside the caves was incredible! Definitely not what I was expecting but I really enjoyed this! Something all Flagstaffians should do:) bring a high lumen headlamp and a light jacket, it's cold down there even in summer.
If u have the option come in off the 180 vs I-40.
Short n easy as caves go. Entrance is a bit slick if your hands aren't free.
Great place to explore. Bring LED headlamps and a backup flashlight and batteries. Also a few layers of clothing. The large boulders near the opening of the cave are often slick and provide no grip. There are a couple places where you need to crouch down and walk through a low tunnel, but it is a short stretch...maybe 20 feet or so. Other than that, most of the walk is quite cavernous.
Dark! Rocky and a lot of fun. Make sure you carry a spare flashlight, or spare batteries, at least. One flashlight per person is a REALLY good idea. I prefer a headlamp to keep my hands free.
Sturdy shoes are a must. Don't try this in flip-flops! Yeah, we saw some people at the entrance who were going to try it. I don't think they made it very far! I did it in VFF Trek shoes, but I'm probably a little crazy... and I've been wearing them for many years. :)
The minerals on the roof of the cave sparkle in the light from your flashlight. Pretty cool!
When the cave forks, we took the left path. You know when you've really gotten to the end because you can't go any further. There are some places where it LOOKS like you can't go on, but those are just low spots in the cave ceiling. Crouch down and carry on!