Who would think that surrounding the beautiful Ponderosa Pine forest here is Northern Arizona we have our very own collection of volcanic wonders? One of these wonders include the lava tubes Flagstaff has to offer that were formed through a volcanic vent located in Hart Prarie. As the lava flowed from the vent, the outside hardened into a tube like formation. This newly created tunnel filled with molten lava creating a fiery faucet. Once the flow was done the cave cooled and remains a mile long tunnel for all of those brave enough to explore it. This 700,000 year old formation remains a cool 35°-45° even in the summer.
VISITOR INFORMATIONWHAT TO BRING
The best season to visit the lava tubes Flagstaff has to offer is during the summer. The cave is open all year round but the service roads to get to them (Forest Roads 245 and/or 171) are closed during the winter. Feel free to ski or snow shoe to the cave if you desire a winter visit. There is also camping around the area but please remember to have your camp site at least a mile away from the cave entrance. The camping etiquette around the area includes picking up all trash, not feeding the wildlife (there are cows that wander the area but are scared of humans), and most importantly no defacing the cave walls. There have been many cases of graffiti in the cave and although they have been removed since, it is obviously respectful to leave the area how it was when you first set foot on it. Camp Colton does educational school programs in the cave and the experience is a rite of passage and an awesome adventure to all Flagstaff sixth graders.
Location: 14 miles north of Flagstaff on paved highways and graveled Forest Roads and a travel time of 45 minutes. GPS Coordinates: 35°20'32.2"N 111°50'08.2"W
Directions: Drive 9 miles north of Flagstaff on US 180 and turn west (left) on FR 245 (at milepost 230). Continue 3 miles to FR171 and turn south 1 mile to where FR 171B turns left a short distance to Lava River Cave. For more information please contact Flagstaff Ranger District at 928-526-0866.