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Lava River Cave

This mile-long lava tube cave about 14 miles north of Flagstaff 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.

Ample evidence of how the tube was born is written in the rocks of which it is formed. Small wave-like undulations in the floor are the remains of ripples frozen in the last trickle of molten rock that flowed from the cave. Stone icicles hanging from the ceiling show where a final blast of volcanic heat caused the rock to partially re-liquefy and drip.

Dress appropriately when you come to visit, with warm clothes and sturdy shoes. The cave is as cool as 42 degrees even in summer, and you may even find some ice inside. The rocks are always sharp and slippery, too. Bring two or three sources of light, in case one happens to fail.


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Coconino National Forest
1824 S. Thompson St.
Flagstaff, AZ 86001

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