Lava River Cave

MODERATE 129 reviews
#15 of 167 trails in

Lava River Cave is a 0.8 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 is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

0.8 miles
16 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly




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.

12 days ago

Very interesting. Someday I’ll make it to the end when I decide to bring 20 flashlights .

14 days ago

Fun activity for the family. Dirt road leading to the cave but a regular sedan can easily drive on it. Bring a jacket. Definitely bring headlights so your hands are free. Bring hiking shoes as you are walking on rocks and many are sharp. I was wearing running shoes and boy I was sorry I didn’t bring my hiking pair. Watch your head in areas where rock is low. You will be busy watching your step and can really hurt your head. If you want to look around just stop first. In some areas you have to really bend over to go through but the overall hike is not hard for any age. We really enjoyed it.

16 days ago

Remember head lamp (you need your hands at times to navigate the rocks) and a warm long sleeve or sweat shirt. Gloves would be nice too

nature trips
1 month ago

It was such a cool adventure. A headlamp is highly recommended. Very rocky walking, have to go slow. Some areas are very low, so if you have a bad back, or are average to tall, be careful.

2 months ago

One time chance to hike an underground trail that is totally different. Fun trail but you NEED good lighting because it's pitch dark inside the cave. You can only see where you point your light. Cell phones lights are not recommended because they won't last long enough. You need your battery to last on the way in as well as your way back. Lose your battery power and you won't be able to see your hand in front of your face and you'll need someone to rescue you.

2 months ago

Very interesting and worth the stop. Brought a 5 year old and 2 year old who had their own headlamps. 5 year old loved it and had no problems; this might not apply to all kids of the same age. 2 year old had to be carried essentially the whole time. Not ideal and made the walk very slow and very difficult at times, but we weren’t going to miss the chance to see it.

Bring headlamps for your whole party. Wear a couple of layers, it’s cold inside.

3 months ago

Go PREPARED. Not recommended for little kids under 8. I saw so many family suffering because they had to carry their babies, didn't have HEADLAMPS/LIGHTS, COLD WEATHER JACKET or Proper BOOTS. The last one is important. It is ROCKY. I'm talking rocks that unexpectedly move, fissures and huge boulders to SCAMBLE(CLIMBING) I enjoyed it with my partner but watching the people have such a bad time cause they didn't research what is involved... well let's say we are going to these hikes WAY EARLIER.

GO EARLY and have a good time. take you time and watch your head as well as your footing. Be SAFE. This cave is not developed at all. It is a natural tunnel formed by lava.

It is cold all the time so don't let the name fool you. 30F when you start down and 40F at the end.

Go left at the fork (which is a loop) if you don't feel like crawling too much. The end is unnecessary CRAWLING to nothing so we didn't really bother but it could fun for you.

Get in and really be careful going down. Yea it doesn't go that STEEP the whole way but most of the walk is still very hard, you must be AWARE because you feel like you are stumbling in the dark.

Still try to enjoy it and BE KIND to others in there as it gets busy. You and your own are not the only ones who exist. Keep a good attitude and see it as symbolic.

Please. Teach your kids to enjoy life's challenges even in the dark. Everything is as rewarding as you make it out to be. Remember that. Respect nature or it will kick your ass if you have a bad attitude. Not only that, the energy stays there and affects others whether you believe or notice it or not.


5 months ago

You park in the middle of a forest, walk a bit and BAM! You’re standing over a half-million year old Lava tube- it’s pretty crazy to think about! Anyway, the hike itself can be slippery and since it’s dark & cold down there, make sure you bring a headlamp and some layers. Well worth it, a must-do hike in Flagstaff.

5 months ago

I really should click the mountaineering option lol. The walk in is lots of huge rocks. So foot placement Is important!
BRING A HEADLAMP. You'd rather have your hands to balance yourself.
It was extremely beautiful and I'm so flavored went! It's .75miles one way under the tunnel according to the legend. I timed my way back out and with a few picture stops, it took 48min out...
there are some sections you have to duck to avoid hitting your head.

NOT dog friendly. Some lady tried bringing her dog in and when I heard it crying and whimpering because he didn't want to go in because it's so dark and lots of rock climbing down into the cave, I asked "did you see if this is dog friendly?" She responded "were from Colorado he's done worse" she didn't even go in and then later as I'm in the cave I see her behind me... no dog. Don't make your baby suffer

6 months ago

This is a good and fun excursion for older children and family, but respect for the wonder of its origin has waned considerably. Noisy and heavily trafficked.

6 months ago

Please be prepared for this hike. While it is amazing, it is not “easy.” You should have hard hats ($10 at Lowe’s) and headlamps ($8 at Lowe’s). The beginning is a steep descent into darkness and loose rocks. In January the rocks were not wet. Apparently during the summer that is an issue. Have at least 3 light sources in case one fails. There was blood from people hitting their heads without protection. The rocks are jagged so wear hard soled hiking shoes. It was 45 degrees inside. Dress warm. We encountered people with only cellphone lights... bad idea. If the phone dies, you are in total darkness.

6 months ago

My daughters, 4 and 6, loved this are tough as you enter, kinda steep but not too bad.

7 months ago

Fun hike! Definitely different from the traditional hiking experience. Bring a headlamp and dress for cool/cold temperatures.

7 months ago

Lots of fun with a group of friends.

7 months ago

Beautiful! Worth the hike!!

8 months ago


8 months ago

Cold, other worldly place

9 months ago

i loved this cave really amazing took my daughter 9 and my sissy 15 they had a blast I didn't want to leave flaggstaff in general.

11 months ago

This is a neat place but once you've done it you don't have to do it again. wear good shoes and bring a good headlamp

11 months ago

awesome experience. dogs definitely cannot go in the cave. we did try with our two dogs but its way to rocky. boyfriend and i took turns doing the cave trail while the other watched the dogs. CHECK THE MAP. i got lost and disoriented in the cave and so did several other people.

11 months ago

Great hike, definitely recommend headlamp so you can use both hands and good grip shoes. A must do in Flagstaff, great adventure.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Very awesome hike in the cave. Took the whole family and we all had a blast. Will definitely go again

Monday, July 10, 2017

It was a fun experience and cool

Friday, July 07, 2017

An interesting experience and fun for the kids. It will be cold in the cave, and remember your headlamp. Also, watch your head in some spots.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

This was a really fun hike. There isn't much of a walk to get to the Cave entrance. Bring a headlamp. We hiked with our 4 and 6 year old and they did a great job. Great fun for kids. Wear good shoes, pants and bring a sweatshirt.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

It was chilly at the beginning, but as I got moving it wasn't bad. some of the rocks are slick, so tread carefully! I brought a headlamp and was able to use my hands to climb over some of the boulders. there were a few spots where the ceiling was low, but not too bad. one thing to's a dirt road to get out there. my little Eos made it, but a higher clearance vehicle would have been nice.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The cave is wide, and the ceiling is very high. In some places the ceiling rises to about 30 feet.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Enjoyed the Hike. Buy good lighting!!!

Sunday, May 07, 2017

fun adventure. need headlamp and good shoes, very rocky

Saturday, April 29, 2017

What a fun hike! Please wear sturdy shoes with plenty of ankle support and you will be fine!

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