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Lava River Cave | by Coconino NF Photography
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Lava River Cave

Lights carried by a passing group leave light trails during the 30 second exposure of this photograph.


Lava River Cave, 14 miles northwest of Flagstaff, Arizona, is a mile-long lava tube cave was formed roughly 700,000 years ago by molten rock that erupted from a volcanic vent in nearby Hart Prairie. The top, sides and bottom of the flow cooled and solidified first, after which the insides of the lava river continued to flow emptying out the present cave. Learn more at Lava River Cave: A Natural Museum.


Visiting Lava River Cave: Wear sturdy shoes and warm clothes. The cave is as cool as 42°, even in summer. The descent into the cave is steep and tricky, the floor of the cave is uneven, and the ceiling of the cave is low in some spots. Shortly after entering the cave, there is no light. Headlamps are recommended over flashlights, and carry at least one spare light per group! The site is open 24 hours a day, and is not staffed. Roads to the site may be closed in the winter and early spring. For more information about this site, see the Lava River Cave recreation page on the Coconino National Forest website.


Photo by Brady Smith, August 19, 2015. Credit: U.S. Forest Service, Coconino National Forest.

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Taken on August 19, 2015