Lava River Cave [CLOSED]

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Coconino National Forest

Lava River Cave [CLOSED] is a 0.3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Flagstaff, Arizona that features a cave and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and camping and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 0.3 miles Elevation Gain: 0 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

camping

hiking

cave

forest

rocky

scramble

snow

closed

NOTE: It has been reported this trail has temporary closures due to COVID-19. Please see the park's website for up to date information. Note: The Lava River Cave is open year-round. However, Forest Roads 245 and/or 171 may be closed during the winter months. For more information, please see https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino/recarea/?recid=55122&actid=102 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; it's 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. You definitely need a flashlight or a headlamp. The Lava River Cave is a unique trail that ties in excellently with the remains of volcanic activity elsewhere in the region. From SP Crater and Sunset Crater to the vast caldera of the San Francisco Peaks, you can see volcanos and cinder cones all over the Flagstaff area. This lava tube gives you another perspective and cool geologic insight into nearby eruptions from thousands of years ago. The scrambling at the entrance was a little frustrating because it presents an obstacle to getting down to the good stuff, and the rugged rocks continued throughout the cave—and appeared to be portions of the ceiling that had broken off and fallen to the floor. At one point, the trail splits in half. Take the trail to the left for an easier experience, or, go to the right if you want to crouch down and squeeze underneath a 3-foot clearance opening. There are one or two more parts where you have to do a little duck walk beneath low ceilings, so if this will be challenging for you, be advised.

hiking
rocky
12 hours ago

currently gated and fenced off as of 6/5/2020. The fence was easily climable and the hike through the caves was great, if a bit cold. the Forest Service road to the caves is open until about .25 miles away.

hiking
1 month ago

We did this back in August 2019. Super cool crawling down into the cave and walking the mile or so length (total distance of the cave). Bring flash lights and layers!

hiking
1 month ago

Great cave but they just closed it until further notice due to covid19 the ranger said they are aiming towards mid may to reopen plus the gate frim the I-40 is closed and it’s a 7 mile walk from there

hiking
3 months ago

Do not come over the winter unless you want to walk 12 plus miles. The road is closed due to snow. Regardless the cave is awesome and we will totally do it again once the snow melts.

hiking
3 months ago

Can’t currently get there from 180, road is closed, I’m guessing that’s the same coming from the S.

hiking
6 months ago

This was awesome! We went not knowing what to expect and it ended up being a really unique experience. We hiked just using the flashlight on our phones and it was fine but the cold temperatures drained battery quickly and I did drop my phone a few times so if you're clumsy like me I would recommend bringing a flashlight.

hiking
7 months ago

Really cool spot. tucked away.

hiking
7 months ago

Bring a light source (flashlight, headlamp, etc) and sturdy shoes! Dark, cold, and wet. No bats.

hiking
7 months ago

So cool! If you are in the area then this is a must. If you are into geology even a little bit then this is a must as well. Wear sturdy shoes, bring a head lamp or at least a flash light. You can feel the cold coming out of the cave when you are at surface, however once you start moving around you'll even get kind of hot, so I suggest just a light long sleeve perhaps. I was slightly intimidated by the drive in, but only because I have a tiny kinda crappy Hyundai Elantra, nonetheless it was an easy drive. If you have an SUV then you are ahead of the curve. No bats :( was hoping I'd see some. If you are not in the best shape I'd consider this challenging but doable, don't rush, just take your time, just when you start to get over it, it levels off. Loose rocks everywhere so take caution when walking around in there. Overall 5 stars for uniqueness, accessibility and level of work out. Don't trash the place please, pack it in, pack it out!!!!!!!! Happy trails

hiking
rocky
7 months ago

this was my first lava tube. very cool. very dark. turn the lights off often. and like someone else mentioned, go early to be one of the first.

hiking
rocky
7 months ago

We loved this. Going on was creepy at first because you’re going into a hole in the ground but this was one of the most amazing trails ever. It’s rocky for sure, and it gets cold! Please wear gloves.

recorded Lava River Cave

hiking
rocky
scramble
7 months ago

hiking
7 months ago

Super cool. Wear good shoes! Rocky, uneven, low ceiling

hiking
rocky
scramble
7 months ago

Very easy walk to the entrance of the cave. Inside was very rocky initially, and then uneven throughout the rest of the cave. We didn't see very many people inside until we reached the end and started heading back. Go early to avoid the crowd.

hiking
rocky
7 months ago

Wow, just completed yesterday with a group of 11 scouts & had a blast! It was perfect temp & great adventure. It's a little rockie but manageable. Bring flashlights and have fun!

hiking
rocky
scramble
8 months ago

Being a sweatshirt. High clearance vehicles recommended. Awesome experience.

hiking
8 months ago

5 stars only if you go into the cave, obviously.

camping
8 months ago

Fun hike. Bring cold weather clothes. It’s between 32 and 40 degrees in the cave

hiking
8 months ago

The dirt road to the trail is closed Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (9/6 to 9/8)....don’t drive all the way there to find that out like I did.

hiking
9 months ago

A little steep and slippery at first but the rest wasn’t bad. I loved that it was nice and cool inside!! Fun and not too long of a hike.

hiking
scramble
9 months ago

hiking
rocky
9 months ago

Lots of fun! My kids and I loved it!

hiking
10 months ago

This was a super fun hike! The opening to the cave is a bit steep and there were parts of the trip where the rocks were lose or slick but I wouldn’t say it was difficult. It was interesting to see the different ways the lava formed throughout the cave. Their are places where the clearance is low but very passable. It’s also a really nice drive in. You definitely need a flashlight or a headlamp, it’s is pitch black just a little ways into the cave. Anything that allows you to be hands free would be preferable. It was cool but not cold, I was fine with yoga pants and a t-shirt. I think I would have been uncomfortable in anything heavier.

hiking
10 months ago

Pretty sweet. The 0.4 miles is from the parking lot to the cave entrance and back. GPS is lost once inside the cave. It's actually 0.75 mile deep, 1.5 mile round trip. It's chilly in there compared to the outside (30-40°), but I didn't think a shirt was necessary. We warmed up after some rock hopping and exploring. A lot of loose rocks in there initially, many with wet surfaces, so be careful. A couple areas where the roof is really low and it's necessary to crouch down or crawl. In other areas the roof is 10 feet or higher. A flashlight or headlamp is essential. Some trash lying around in there. Don't be an a-hole; pick up and bring your trash out.

recorded Lava River Cave

hiking
rocky
scramble
10 months ago

hiking
10 months ago

This was so fun! The beginning is rocky and pretty wet but once you’re past that it’s easy enough walking. The only bummer was that on our way back a man had lit up a cigarette inside the cave and it reeked of smoke for a long while. Really, who does that?!

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