Lava River Cave at Newberry National Volcanic Monument – Bend, Oregon

Our trip to Bend, Oregon checked off 2 of our family bucket list places to visit: Crater Lake and Lava River Cave. We had visited Newberry National Volcanic Monument in May 2019, but were unable to tour the cave due to having very recently visited Pinnacles National Park – California. To avoid the spread of disease to the bats, you aren’t allowed to wear anything in the cave that you’ve worn in any other cave. It was a big disappointment at the time.

The kids were totally amped up for this adventure because they remember not being allowed to do it before. Our youngest son was so excited he couldn’t get his jacket or headlamp on fast enough and we had to re-do both!

The temperature in the cave is 42°F, a stark contrast to the upper 90s on the ground above. The cave hike was about a mile and a half out and back with steep metal stairs at the entrance. At some points the ceiling was 30 feet up, and at other points many adults would need to duck to avoid a head bump. The park rangers were limiting the number of people allowed in the cave at all times. We waited for about 45 minutes in a line of cars at the entrance and then waited another 30 minutes or so to hear the safety instructions.

low ceiling

At one point, the cave is directly underneath of Highway 97. There is a sign to indicate this fact, otherwise you’d never know it. At 80 feet underground, we could neither hear or feel traffic overhead. We didn’t see any wildlife in the cave. Because the cave is a lava tube, there weren’t any stalactites or stalagmites, but there were some very tiny “lavasicles” on the ceiling in some places. The Lava River Cave was an awesome caving experience and we highly recommend a visit if you are ever in the area!

Have you ever been caving before? What did you think of it?

4 thoughts on “Lava River Cave at Newberry National Volcanic Monument – Bend, Oregon

  1. I’ve been to that cave several times! It’s a great one, I need to get my kiddos up there. I love caving, growing up I’d always beg my parents to take us to Lava Beds and if I couldn’t get them to do that there was an abandoned mine in Ashland my parents would take us to.

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  2. Missouri has a number of caves. My favorite is Onondaga Cave which is now a state park. It is very beautiful inside, and the tour is done by the park. Other caves are commercialized – which is fine – but I like the nature focus better. This cave sounds awesome!

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