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"Lava Beds National Monument" Top 5 Page for this destination Other National / State Parks Tip by Basaic

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The terrain of Lava Beds National Monument started forming around 500,000 years ago with the eruption of the Medicine Lake Shield Volcano. This is the largest volcano of all the volcanoes in the Cascade Range, which stretches from Northern California into British Columbia. The volcano covers about 700 square miles (1125 square kilometers). The Devil's Homestead Lava Flow (shown here), is relatively young having occurred in the last several thousand years.
There are over 700 lava tube caves in the park. These caves are formed as flows of molten lava move along a gentle slope to exit on the surface. The lava moves very slowly and cools and hardens as it comes into contact with the air and ground along the surface. The cooling takes place first on the bottom where it touches the ground, than the sides then the top forming a tube which insulates the rest of the lava allowing it to flow long distances. Once the flow stops a long cave is formed. Some of these tubes collapse and form features like Fern Cave where animal and plant life live.
Pictured here is Mushpot Cave which is located near the Visitor Center on the south end of the park. This is the cave for the beginning caver and for those not sure how they will react to going in a cave. It has lights inside, and even has interpretive signs. Flashlights are available at the visitors center and hardhats are recommended. Parts of the cave have a low ceiling.
According to the Modoc Tribe who inhabited this area for thousands of years before they were forcibly moved this area was once a vast lake. Then one day Kamookumpts (the creator) decided to make land. He scooped some mud from the bottom of the lake and formed the hill where the petroglyphs are now found. He then created the animals, plants and the rest of the terrain we know today. All this work made him very tired so he made a hole below the hill and went to sleep. Just as a warning; the story also says that he is still asleep there and if we don't take care of the land he created he may be angry when he awakens.

For more information see my Lava Beds National Monument Page.

Address: 1 Indian Wells, Tulelake, CA 96134
Directions: Just off California Highways 139 and 161
Phone: (530) 667-2282

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Feb 2, 2011
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