Lava River Cave, AZ
Formed by a vent tube of a volcano 700,000 years ago, the Lava River Cave is something not to be missed while in Flagstaff. Its about 14 miles from downtown, just putting Lava River Cave in google maps will take you to the parking lot. The temperatures can be pretty cold, and its completely absent of all light only a few hundred feet in. Bringing multiple layers is essential and multiple sources of light as well. I picked up a headlamp for my backpacking travels for only $10 and it worked great. I also devised a more fun option for light that I don’t recommend. I did a little research on how to make a torch that wouldn’t make any smoke. Turns out there’s a type of lamp oil that leaves no smoke or smell! So I snagged some of that and an old t-shirt. When we got there we found some branches laying on the ground of adequate size and just wrapped the shirts around them. Carefully soaked the t-shirt material in the lamp oil and it worked great! The reason why I don’t recommend it is because this is a “leave no signs behind” type of place. I appreciate others doing it so I spent the better part of an hour making sure after the torches ran out of fuel that we didn’t leave any traces behind. That means picking up all the cinders in a bag and taking them out with you. Unless your willing to take care of the cave so others can enjoy it, please don’t do what we did.
Driving in, the road turns to dirt for about 5 miles. Easily passable on a dry day in any car. Maybe not a great idea in rainy conditions.
The ominous entrance to the cave. You have to be really careful to not hit your head on the ceiling. Its as low as 2-3 feet in places. Though most of it its high enough to stand up in.
Upon entering, its hard to see where your supposed to go! There was alot of ice at this point so be extra careful going in. Once inside its mostly dry.
First glance inside, its super cool!
Torches in hand ready to explore the mile of tunnels.
The torches made quite alot of light, and in all directions!
The ceilings are super high in places, almost 30ft!
One thing about having such a bright light source like fire is your eyes wont adjust to the darkness. As a result you cant see very far into the cave.
The famous split in the cave, the passage to the right loops around to the passage on the left and then continues another quarter mile or so. You just have to crawl on your hands and knees to get through the right side. Thus I would recommend just taking the left passage.
Kind of a cool science project is spark shower pictures. Tutorial coming soon on how we did this.
Jovan making the best one!
Trying to illustrate just how dark it can get in the tunnels.
Madaline making a wall of sparks!
Had to try one myself
The darkness made for alot of fun with photos with flashlights
Found our way out! All in all we spent 3 hours in the caves. If you just walked to the end and back you could do it in two probably, however we stopped a bunch to mess with long exposure photography.
Some people heading in. Thanks for reading and I hope you take some time to visit the Lava River Cave. Please remember to leave no trash behind and keep the cave clean for everyone!