• Lava River Cave was formed by volcanic activity 80,000 years ago
• The lava tube is the longest in Oregon

Located approximately a mile away from Lava Butte, Lava River Cave is a lava tube that was formed by volcanic activity about 80,000 years ago. The cave is the longest known lava tube in Oregon, stretching approximately 1.5 miles from the entrance through Echo Halls, Low Bridge Lane, Two Tube Tunnel to Sand Gardens. It takes about an hour and a half to explore this unique natural wonder of Central Oregon.

The cave was created by lava flows about 80,000 years ago. The river of molten lava was flowing in the open air until the top of the lava river cooled down and, finally, solidified. Below the solid crust, the lava drained out of the channel leaving behind a phenomenon we see today, Lava River Cave.

Numerous artifacts have been found in the area. It means Native Americans were aware of the cave before the first European explorers discovered it in 1889.

Managed by US Forest Service, Lava River Cave is a unique natural phenomenon with sensitive environment. A small population of bats that reside in the cave is highly vulnerable to human disturbance. Be advised that you will not get access to the cave if you have recently been in another cave, especially if you wore the same clothes. This is made to make sure you accidentally don’t bring any diseases with you which don’t affect humans but can negatively affect the cave’s bat population.

Since the temperature in the Lava River Cave is about 42 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, make sure that you dress up in warm clothes and close-toed shoes for your safety. Also, bring a flashlight. You can also rent a lantern at the entry. In addition, it would be a good idea to have a spare light source with you in a case the primary one goes down.

Public access is only allowed during certain times a year. Be advised that no pets are allowed at this site.

Lava River Cave | General Description

Open: The beginning of May - the end of September
Managed: US Forest Service

Services: Outside of the cave
Activities: Self-guided exploration and hiking
Day-use fees: Yes or Recreation Pass
Restrictions: No pets are allowed

Elevation: 4,500 ft (1,372 m)

Lava River Cave is located:

  • 13 miles south of Bend
  • 127 miles east of Eugene
  • 187 miles southeast of Portland.

Adventures Nearby


From Bend,

  • Follow south on Highway 97 to Exit 151
  • Turn left onto Cottonwood Road and drive 1.2 miles to Lava River Cave on your left.

Phone (Lava Lands Visitor Center): 541-593-2421

Get Google Maps Directions

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