• Schonchin Butte

    Lava Beds

    National Monument California

Your Safety

Here are some very important things you can do to stay safe during your visit:

 
cave ladder

Caving: Long pants, long sleeves, and closed-toed shoes or boots are a must for all caves. Temperatures in the caves average 55 degrees Farenheit all year. Three flashlights per group is a bare minimum, in case of dead bulbs or batteries, and everyone in your group needs their own. Flashlights can be borrowed from the Visitor Center, but must be returned each afternoon.

Always let someone know where you are going and when you will return when caving. We highly recommend a helmet to protect your head; bicycle helmets work fine, and we sell inexpensive "bumphats" in the Visitor Center. We also recommend sturdy gloves and kneepads if you plan to visit more difficult caves, as you can expect to crawl on jagged lava. Maps of the inside of the developed caves are also available for sale in the Visitor Center, and are highly recommended for the more difficult, more complicated caves.

IMPORTANT NEWS: If you plan to go caving at Lava Beds and have been caving in the East of the Rocky Mountains (including Canada) or in Europe in the last 7 years, please read this important information to protect Lava Beds' bats from a deadly disease: White-Nose Syndrome in Bats

 
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Summer Weather: Intense sunlight and warm temperatures require plenty of sunscreen, brimmed hats, and a lot of water to drink. In fact, we recommend consuming up to a gallon of water per person, per day! And remember, sweet sports drinks and sodas can do more harm than good in hot weather, they can actually cause cramping and serious medical problems. It's safer to drink water, or water mixed with a small amount of a sports drink for flavor.

 
mountain-lion

Mountain Lions: Stealthy and elusive, this is mountain lion territory. Always accompany small children and avoid traveling alone in the backcountry, especially if you are of small stature. Be especially wary at dawn and dusk, when lions are most active. If you do encounter a lion that seems curious about you, shout, throw rocks and make yourself look as big and mean as possible. Do not run away and contact help if the lion is not scared off.

 
Western Rattlesnake

Rattlesnakes: One venomous snake, the western rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus), finds valuable habitat in the park. While exploring the lava beds, never place a hand where you can't see it. If you do encounter a rattler, heed it's warning buzz and back away calmly.

 
snowy park road at dawn

Winter Weather: During cooler months, be sure to bring gloves, a warm hat, and be prepared for sudden shifts in the weather. What might seem like a pleasant fall day can quickly become a blizzard, so be prepared for the worst just in case. Waterproof boots are a must for navigating through snow at cave entrances.

 
Bushy-Tailed woodrat - web

Woodrat

Diseases: There are several rare but serious infections that can be transmitted by the wild animals who make Lava Beds their homes. If you follow park policy of keeping your distance from wild animals and their homes, you will not only ensure they stay wild, but you will protect yourself from disease and injury.

Though no known cases of bubonic plague have been recorded at Lava Beds, it is usually transmitted when a human is bitten by a flea that has previously bitten an infected rodent.

Hanta virus is transmitted by breathing in aerosolized particles of urine, feces, and saliva left behind by rodents. When caving, try to keep your face away from rodent droppings.

Histoplasmosis is also transmitted by breathing in particles of infected bat guano. At Lava Beds, caves with significant guano deposits are closed in summer to protect maternal colonies.

If you have any questions about diseases, symptoms you may be experiencing, or any other safety issue at Lava Beds, please contact a ranger. Have a safe and enjoyable visit!

Did You Know?

Waterway

The Modoc lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle, spending their winters along the shores of the lakes and Lost River. During the rest of the year, they ranged throughout their territory collecting roots and berries, hunting, and fishing.