Lava Beds National Monument
This is an old land with a violent past.
Lava Beds National Monument is located on the southern edge of the Cascade Mountain Range in the Siskiyou and Modoc Counties of Northeastern California. It is the product of the largest volume volcano in the Cascade Mountain Range - Medicine Lake Volcano. The Lava Beds are known to volcanologists as having one of the best collections of classic volcanic formations to be found anywhere in the world. These include lava tube caves, cinder cones, fumaroles, spatter cones, pit craters, maars, hornitos and extensive volcanic fields with large lava flows. Many excellent examples of each can be visited with easy access by car and short walks. Twenty five of the caves have trails into them and are open for exploration by the spelunkers in your party. A large part of the Monument has been designated as wilderness in an effort to protect some of it's unique geological formations.
Most of the present day features of the Lava Beds National Monument are believed to have been formed by eruptions of the now dormant Medicine Lake Volcano about 40,000 years ago, but some geological features are believed to be the result of even more ancient eruptions that occurred about 450,000 years ago. The most recent volcanic activity in the region is thought to have occurred about 1,000 years ago. If you were ever interested in volcanos, Lava Beds National Monument is the place to go, but even if you only have a passing interest in molten rock, a visit can be fascinating. The landscape is just too unique and dramatic not to be eye-catching, and then there is the violent history of humans in the region as well as the exotic flora and fauna thriving where the fertile Cascade, Klamath and Sierra Mountain Ranges transition into the arid Great Basin.
The Monument has some camp sites available, but there are very few other tourist facilities in the immediate vicinity. When we visit, we stay at Fe's Bed & Breakfast in Tulelake, a small, unpretentious, European style (bath down the hall), place with friendly, locally knowledgable owners. The Monument is a fifteen minute drive from their inn.
Lava Beds National Monument
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