Northern California April 18, 2017
One Of The Oddest Geological Wonders Is Located Right Here In Northern California
It’s not very often that folks make it all the way up to Lava Beds National Monument, but when they do, it definitely doesn’t disappoint. This incredible natural landmark was formed, as you might have guessed, by the movement of volcanic lava over the earth’s surface. It’s really so much more than that however, and you will have to read on and see it for yourself to learn more.
Volcanic eruptions on the Medicine Lake Shield volcano have created an incredibly rugged landscape here at Lava Beds National Monument.
It's geologically outstanding because of its great variety of "textbook" volcanic formations including: lava tube caves; fumaroles; cinder cones; spatter cones; pit craters; hornitos; maars; and lava flows and volcanic fields.
Probably the biggest and most interesting of these features are the lava tubes.
The monument includes many lava tube caves. Twenty-five of them have marked entrances and developed trails for public access and exploration.
This one is known as Hercules's Leg.
A lava tube is a natural conduit formed by flowing lava which moves beneath the hardened surface of a lava flow. Tubes can be actively draining lava from a volcano during an eruption, or can be extinct, meaning the lava flow has ceased and the rock has cooled and left a long, cave-like channel.
This cave is called Golden Dome.
If you are into geology, you can probably spend hours in these caves.
These are Lavacicles in Golden Dome. They were formed as the level of lava in the tube retreated and the viscous lava on the ceiling dripped as it cooled.
Lava Beds National Monument has over five hundred caves. If you like lava, caves, sagebrush, etc., this is the place!
Many of the caves open for exploration can be toured without a guide, although you should be sure to wear sturdy foot wear and bring a flashlight.
Others, however, do require a guide to lead you through the area. Be sure to stop in at the ranger station or visitor's center to learn where you can and can't go for your own safety.
If you are brave enough to crawl through some of these more confined tunnels, then all power to you!
If you are a little more claustrophobic, however, and prefer to stay above ground, there are plenty of opportunities to explore the monument above ground.
There is tons of evidence of the volcanic activity to view without crawling in a cave. This is a nice steep hike up Schonchin Butte.
Here you can see two mule deer near Captain Jack's Stronghold in Lava Beds National Monument. It's near Tulelake, California with Sheepy Ridge seen in the background.
Even though this is a cultural rather than geological artifact, the other really interesting part about this National Monument is the petroglyphs.
They can be viewed at Petroglyph Point, which is behind the chain link fence to protect it from vandalism.
This rock formation has thousands of petroglyphs on it dating back almost 5000 years.
Pretty cool place, am I right?
Have you ever visited the Lava Beds National Monument? For more interesting natural sights in Northern California, be sure to read
The Incredible Caverns In Northern California That Are Only Accessible By Boat.