Before You Step Off the Trail...
Please consider that these lava flows and features are thousands of years old and easily damaged by off-trail travel. In addition, park regulations prohibit off-trail travel around the North Crater Flow and Spatter Cones/Big Craters areas (see maps on trailhead signs, or at the following link, to identify specific closure areas).
You are also quite fragile and easily damaged by sharp and abrasive lava rock! Taking a fall will almost certainly result in cuts and scrapes. When hiking on trails we encourage you to slow down and use caution. Sturdy shoes (no sandals) and long pants are highly recommended. When exploring caves a hat or helmet for head protection and a flashlight are a must. Thank you for helping to protect your Monument and yourself!
Weather and Safe Travel Tips
During the summer the black lava captures and radiates the heat of the intense summer sun. An afternoon without steady wind is a rarity. Be prepared! Wear sun screen and a hat and carry plenty of water. Fill your water bottles before leaving the visitor center, as there is no running water along the Loop Drive, nor is there surface water in the wilderness. For wilderness travel, carry at least one gallon of water per person per day. The lava surface is uneven and abrasive, so wear hiking boots or sturdy shoes. Cuts and abrasions from falling on the lava are the most common injuries in the park.
In addition to the above mentioned items, it is highly recommended that all hikers carry a map, a GPS or compass and a cell phone. Although there is limited cell phone coverage in this remote area, hikers may be able to pick up a signal on top of one of the cinder cones in the event of an emergency.
The caves are undeveloped and contain many hazards. There is no artificial lighting, nor are there any paved trails. The floors are uneven and possibly icy; ceilings may be low with sharp stalactites.