Explore the Lava River Cave

Bend, Oregon

based on 4 reviews


Added by Lindsey Banks

Unique lava tube hike. Convenient to Bend and Deschutes National Forest. Family-friendly. Refreshing cool hike for a hot day.

Located just 12 miles South of Bend and 5 miles Northeast of Sunriver in the Deschutes National Forest, the Lava River Cave is a unique experience the whole family can enjoy. To get there from Bend, drive South on Highway 97 for about 10 miles until you see a large sign for the Lava Lands Visitor Center. You can stop at the visitor's center, or take the fork to the left, following the signs for the Lava River Caves. You will drive an additional mile around a curve until you see the parking lot.

There is a Lava River Cave Welcome Station located directly in front of the cave entrance. You will need to pay $5 to park, unless you have a recreation pass.

You will need a good light to enter the cave. You can bring your own or rent one at the Welcome Station for $6. A headlamp and extra light are recommended, as it is very dark in the cave. If you are going first thing in the morning, the cave will be less crowded.

There is only one way in and one way out of the cave. It is a little over 1 mile long and is a self-guided walking tour that will take you about 1.5 hours to walk to the end and back. The initial descent into the cave takes you down 55 metal stairs with railings and then onto a combination of metal boardwalks and stairs. Once deep inside the cave, the trail becomes flat dirt with some rocks. You will need to be careful to keep your light in front of you, as there can be several dirt holes and rocks to step over. 95% of the cave is tall enough to walk straight through. There are a few sections towards the end where adults will need to duck to walk under.

It is always cold in the cave (about 42 degrees) so make sure to bring a jacket. Closed-toed shoes are also recommended. If you have been in any caves outside of Oregon or Washington you will not be allowed to enter wearing any of the same clothing or gear you used in those caves. It can be harmful to the bats living in the cave. You may spot some bats depending on how crowded it is.

Once you reach the end, you will see a sign letting you know it is time to turn back.

The cave is open seasonally from May 1 through September 30 and the gate closes at 4 p.m. For an update on opening dates and times you can call 541-383-5700 for information.

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Easy Parking
Family Friendly

Explore the Lava River Cave Reviews

We opted to use our own head lamps. We probably should have just rented the super powerful high beam flashlights they had. We still could navigate but probably missed out on a lot of the details of the tunnel. It is 100% pitch black. We turned off our lights a couple times and you could see you hand in front of your face. Really fun experience just don’t be afraid of the dark. Also be sure to check out the Lava Butte Cinder Cone up the road.

The cave requires a permit now. I went prior to the permit requirement. The rangers provide flashlights for a rental fee of $5. You definitely need to bring or rent a flashlight. I recommend a jacket and pants regardless of outside weather. It’s the coldest cave I’ve been in. Parking for RVs and oversized vehicles on site.

i honestly had no idea what i was getting myself into when i arrived in the parking lot but i was beyond grateful that i had hiking through the cave! it was absolutely freezing as you got farther and farther into the cave so remember to bring a WARM jacket and super bright flashlight if you're afraid of the dark. i didn't make it to the end because our lighting wasn't great & there was nobody within earshot & i got a little uneasy about being in there alone.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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