Lava Beds Caves – Book Review - Explore! Lava Beds Caves – Book Review - Explore!

Lava Beds Caves – Book Review

Lava Beds Caves by Charlie and Jo Larson . . .

Cover of the book: Lava Beds CavesI picked up this 56-page, paper-covered book at the visitor center in Lava Beds National Monument and have used it as the basis for exploring several caves there.  The book begins with twelve pages of background information including:

  • the human history of the area from early native visitors, the Modoc Tribe, an 1888 encounter with a bear and the legacy of J.D. Howard who explored many of the caves.
  • the natural history of lava tubes, how they form and how they evolve over multiple volcanic eruptions.
  • safety and comfort when exploring the caves
  • protecting the caves

The main part of the book (38 pages) provides human and geologic history of individual caves as well as descriptions of their geologic features and many maps to help guide you through the caves.  The book discusses the following lava-created features (Note: the caves with hot links are those we have visited and the links lead to our stories about them.):

  • Fleener Chimneys
  • Balcony Chamber Cave
  • Blue Grotto Cave
  • Golden Dome Cave
  • Hopkins Chocolate Cave
  • Labyrinth Cave
  • Mitertite Hall Cave
  • Mushpot Cave
  • South Labyrinth Cave
  • Garden Bridges
  • Hercules Leg – Juniper Cave
  • Indian Well Cave
  • Crystal Cave
  • Balcony Cave
  • Shark’s Mouth cave
  • Boulevard Cave
  • East Boulevard Cave
  • Catacombs Cave
  • Valentine Cave
  • Merrill Cave
  • Bearpaw Cave and Bearpaw Bridge
  • Sentinal Cave
  • Ovis Cave and Ovis Bridge
  • Paradise Alleys Cave
  • Heppe Caves
  • Natural Bridge Cave
  • Skull Cave
  • Fern Cave
  • Symbol Bridge
  • Big Painted Cave
  • Sunshine Cave

As long as that list is, it barely touches the 400, plus, known caves in  Lava Beds National Monument.  Of course, most of them have never been described at all.

The book concludes with some additional information on the types of lava common to the area and a glossary of terms associated with lava tube caves.

This book is essential to your visit if you’d like to understand the cave systems, how they were formed and how to safely explore them.  I highly recommend it.  The book is available for purchase through


This book review was written by Jerry Haugen, Pathfinder, and is ©2010 Global Creations LLC.  All rights reserved.

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