Lava River Cave is a 0.4 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.

DISTANCE
0.4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
3 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

hiking

cave

forest

rocky

scramble

snow

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.

hiking
23 days ago

It's definitely longer than .4 miles. Cave is pretty large in some areas and really low in others. The ground is incredibly uneven. Do not attempt without a light source, do not rely on a cell phone. At the very end, there is a tiny opening where you can squeeze through into another small area.

hiking
1 month ago

The trail is not 0.8 miles total. The cave itself is a mile long, and you have to walk to the cave entrance from the parking lot, so my phone said 2.15 miles total after we did it. Come ready for climbing and lots of rocks. Bring multiple flashlights and and extra jacket because it’s cold in the cave. But it was pretty cool and different than most trails!

hiking
1 month ago

Easier if you're short. Tall people will have a harder time in some spots. chunky ground, a low ro walk. Have a headlamp. Makes it much better. Dress for the chill.

hiking
2 months ago

went early morning, it was quite cold in the cave and nobody else was there, which was kinda cool but a bit scary too. there is no light at all in the cave aside from the entrance, and the air is stale and dry which can lead to dehydration. make sure you go with a buddy or with at least 2 different light sources. this is.not like any other hiking experience and definitely recommend despite feeling a bit disoriented once finished.

hiking
3 months ago

Really cool if you're not afraid of the dark or claustrophobic. Pretty dangerous in the beginning, and lots of places where you risk hitting your head if you're not careful.

hiking
4 months ago

I love this trail even though for me it's more of a difficult hike because of all the tricky footing, bad ankles. It's nice and cool all year round, bring plenty of flashlights and sturdy boots, the rocks are sharp and with that in mind I would discourage bringing your pups with you. Last time I went, I had a really nice pair of boots but the upper part was swede leather and some of the rocks tore right through it when I stumbled, not some place I would expose my dogs' paws to, also it tends to get noisy due to all of the echoing so I'd worry about their sensitive ears and if it's worrying to them.

4 months ago

Pretty difficult, you have to watch every step. Bring flashlights, wear sturdy shoes, possibly gloves. it's cold down in there. Very tricky footing.

5 months ago

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

5 months 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.

5 months 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
5 months 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.

hiking
7 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.

hiking
7 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.

8 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.

Thanks.
Tim

9 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.

hiking
10 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

11 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.

hiking
11 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.

11 months ago

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

Monday, November 27, 2017

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

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Lots of fun with a group of friends.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Beautiful! Worth the hike!!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Fun!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Cold, other worldly place
Awesome!

hiking
Thursday, September 21, 2017

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.

hiking
Saturday, August 12, 2017

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

hiking
Tuesday, July 25, 2017

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.

hiking
Friday, July 21, 2017

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

hiking
Saturday, July 15, 2017

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

hiking
Monday, July 10, 2017

It was a fun experience and cool

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