• Schonchin Butte

    Lava Beds

    National Monument California


IMPORTANT NEWS: If you plan to go caving at Lava Beds and have been in a cave or mine East of the Rocky Mountains in the United States or Canada or anywhere in Europe, please read this important information to protect Lava Beds' bats from a deadly disease: White-nose Syndrome


A young coyote, seen near the Visitor Center

David Hays


You might be surprised by the variety of wildlife that overcomes dry summers, cold winters, and scarce water to thrive here; bird watching is especially good year-round.
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Wyoming paintbrush in early summer

David Hays


Even the small changes in elevation, soil, and shade found on our high buttes, open plains, lava flows, and cave entrances provide unique conditions for plants to grow.
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Species checklist >>>

Unique geology in a lava tube cave

David Hays

Natural Features & Ecosystems

Extensive lava tube caves and volcanic geologic features are provide exciting unique recreation for visitors and critical habitat for special plants and animals.
Caves brochure >>>

Snow blankets the monument's weather station, where temperature, wind speeds, precipitation amounts, and air quality have been tracked for decades

David Hays

Climate & Environmental Factors

The lava beds are an amazing natural laboratory. Here one can study the starry night skies, the impact of climate change or wildland fires, invasions of exotic weeds, even the effects of international industrial pollution.
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Medicine Lake Volcano is a shield volcano built almost entirely of fluid lava flows. They are named for their large size and low profile, resembling a warrior's shield.  Also visible are many cinder cones.

Nico Ramirez

Geology of the Medicine Lake Volcano

Medicine Lake Volcano has been active for 500,000 years. The eruptions were gentle rather than explosive like Mount St. Helens, coating the volcano's sides with flow after flow of basaltic lava.

Geology Brochure >>>

Geologic Map of Volcano >>>

Hazards Assessment for Medicine Lake volcano >>>

Did You Know?