The terrain of Lava Beds National Monument is marked by craggy, moon-like rocks and trailheads that lead seemingly nowhere. That’s because the trails here start with an underground ladder allowing access to one of the park’s more than 700 caves. The visitors center is an obligatory first stop where underground explorers can secure a day pass and rent a heavy-duty flashlight. Start with the paved and fully lit Mushpot Cave or the beginner-friendly Skull Cave where metal stairs lead to the floor where icicles hang year-round. At Golden Dome, the ceiling is covered with yellow, water-rappelling microorganisms, which create an opulent effect that looks just like gold leaf. Above-ground options include hikes through Captain Jack’s Stronghold, where Modoc fighters fought to protect their homeland, and Petroglyph Point, one of the largest examples of Native American rock art in the world.
Lava Beds National Monument