Lava River Cave

Lava River Cave, Bend: Address, Phone Number, Lava River Cave Reviews: 4.5/5

Lava River Cave
Caverns & Caves
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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452 reviews
Very good

Laura R
Bainbridge Island, WA4 contributions
Aug 2021
This was our favorite experience during our trip to Oregon. It is a must see. The cave is quite cold so be sure to dress accordingly with long pants and a jacket. I even used my gloves. It is very dark so be sure that each person has a light source so they can clearly see where they are going. The $5 rental lanterns are very strong and allow you to see all the features of the lava tube. There are a number of stairs at the begining of the cave, but after that the terrain is pretty flat. Don't miss out on this incredible experience.
Written August 8, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Peggy S
Grand Junction, CO136 contributions
Jun 2022 • Couples
An easy 2 mile walk deep into the earth. Bring a coat and wear sturdy shoes. Highly recommend renting a light or bringing your own large powerful light. It is pitch black in the cave.
Written June 16, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Ryan W
8 contributions
Jul 2021 • Couples
About 30 minute wait. We went after lunch around 1250 on a Monday. Very simple, you'll see a line of cars. Just get in the queue. Bring warm clothes. Gets cold fast. Free for military.
Written July 6, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Yucca Valley, CA142 contributions
Aug 2021
Very inexpensive which is nice. Be aware, there can be delays as they moderate crowds and parking lot access. We waited on the main road 15-30 min before being allowed in (we arrived at 10AM). You do get a safety brief but otherwise, this is self guided. The caves are totally black, cold, damp, slippery, nothing really to see. This is not a cavern with stalagmites/stalactites. There weren't even any bats to see the day we went. Be careful if you are claustrophobic, afraid of the dark, or unsteady on your feet. Biggest thing is I guess you get bragging rights saying you've hiked a mile in an actual cave.
Written August 23, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Donna R
15 contributions
Jul 2021
One thing to be clear, this is a lava cave. We had never been in a lava cave before and were expecting it to be like other caves we have been in before. There is nothing wrong with a lava cave, but I want to manage your expectations, it is not lit other than with the lanterns you rent from them, there are no stalagmites or stalag tights, no color. It was a little disappointing for us but I guess we should have asked before we went in. It was pretty cool, but a light jacket did fairly well. Very difficult to photograph if there was something to photograph.
Written July 28, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

dawn h
Mount Vernon, WA30 contributions
Jul 2021 • Friends
Super cool experience. Very doable but lots of stairs, I was able to take my time and it was fine. It is cool 42 degrees inside. I came prepared with jacket and gloves so was comfortable. We had headlamps but rented one as well. So glad we did. The rented lamps are way better and worth it!!!! Without it we would have missed everything. We got there early so line moved quickly. I would also recommend good shoes. It was sandy and could get slippery in spots.
Written July 27, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Fairfield, OH199 contributions
Jul 2019 • Couples
My husband and I (early 50s) have been to a few caves: Mammoth Cave, Wind Cave, and Jewel Cave in the past few years. We have done a lava tube in Hawaii. We usually do our research before going somewhere. However, in planning a ten day trip including Redwood and Crater Lake National Parks, my husband added Lava River Cave to the itinerary as part of our visit to the Newberry National Volcanic Monument and I didn't look into it beforehand, which was a mistake. However, even if I had gone by the reviews, I don't think we would have been adequately prepared.

We arrived a little after 9:30 AM after being advised by a ranger at the nearby visitor center that the parking lot fills up early. We got one of two remaining spots. We attended the required orientation that focused primarily on the risk of spreading white nose syndrome to the bat population in the cave. There was a mention of the cave being rocky but no warning of how rocky it was or that some people might find it difficult. We were told cell phone flashlights would not suffice, and although we had a small flashlight, we rented a spotlight for $5.00.

We entered the cave. The metal stairs were not an issue as we'd encountered those in other caves. Once out of view of the light from the cave opening, it truly was pitch black. Our lantern did not seem to provide enough light for us. It was all we could do to shine the light on the ground to find our footing on the extremely rocky, uneven surface. I have some balance issues after breaking my ankle three years ago, so I am particularly cautious, but my husband generally has no issues, and even he was having a hard time. We tried to see around us, but to do so, we had to stand still and shine the light on the walls and roof; we couldn't move forward without shining the light at our feet to see where we could place them next. Still, we went on, but we were making very little progress. Fortunately, no one had come in behind us so we were going at our own snail's pace.

As an older couple approached us on their way back out of the cave, the woman fell and her husband caught her so that she basically sank down on her bottom. My husband offered to help her get up, but she said she wanted to rest for a while. A family began approaching from behind me, into the cave. My husband started to take a step back to allow them more room to pass between him and the older couple, and he lost his footing and fell backward. I was afraid he'd hit his head on the cave wall, but thankfully he only hurt his wrist. Falling on the jagged rocks, he could have been seriously or even fatally injured, and barely moving had caused him to lose his footing enough to fall.

Based on witnessing one fall and experiencing another, the extremely rocky and uneven walking surface, and our rented lantern not seeming to be as bright as others (even after trying to adjust it as we'd been shown), we made the decision to turn around and not go any further. We weren't having fun and the risk of injury just didn't make the experience worth it to us. We were within sight of the second set of stairs when we turned around and had probably been in the cave about 15 minutes or so.

We returned the lantern (with no offer to refund our rental fee even though the gentleman knew we exited the cave early due to the falls of my husband and the older lady). The young female ranger who had given the orientation asked us about leaving and we told her we weren't prepared for the difficult terrain and after the two falls didn't consider it prudent to continue. She said the terrain evened out, but we had no way of knowing that, and it just wasn't worth it to us to try to get over the extremely rocky portion.

None of the other caves we had been in had been that difficult to traverse. It is amazing to us that families with young children can do it, especially after we got out of the cave and saw that it is listed as a "Difficult" hike in the park guide. Maybe you are willing to take the risk. Maybe it will be easy for you. Maybe you will think it is fun. Based on the reviews, we are clearly in the minority, but at least this review might help people be more prepared for what to anticipate.
Written July 29, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Joan F
Bend, OR14 contributions
Jul 2012 • Couples
I'm not one who enjoys going into most caves, especially those that are damp, dark, and filled places where you have to slide along on your belly. Lava River Cave is not your typical cave! It offers an adventure for the youngest and the oldest. It is approximately a mile in length and is quite wide and tall in most places. Until you reach the end, there is no "belly crawling" needed. (When we reach the end, I always sit on the little rock ledges and wait for my husband and grandchildren to finish the trek.) Before you enter the cave, you pay a nominal fee (if you are a senior and have the annual National Park Pass you enter free), pick up a gas lantern to light your way, and hopefully you have remembered to bring a jacket since the cave is very chilly. It is an adventure and a perfect outing for children; our grandchildren continue to talk about how much fun it was to go caving with grandma and granddad!
Written December 11, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

McKinney, TX35 contributions
Jul 2018 • Family
This was my first time going in a cave and it was fantastic! We rented a couple lights ($5 each) and headed on the hike inside. It is self-guided so you can go at your own pace. We went to the end and it was about a mile long. Easy hiking for our 10 and 6 year olds.
Written July 31, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Randolph M
Salem, Oregon, United States9 contributions
May 2014 • Solo
This is the easiest wild cave I've ever been in. At the entrance it's a little steep and the pathway is a little narrow, but past that, it's basically walking on the beach.
Advantages(compared to other caves):
1. It's the easiest cave in the area.
2. It's easy to get to compared to other caves (paved road and parking lot!)
3. It's almost a mile long.
4. Most of the cave is tall and wide so you won't get claustrophic.
Disadvantages(compared to other caves):
1. It's really boring. It doesn't branch out or have formations or anything like that. Don't expect to take many pictures.
2. It's not open year around. It's open from May to September to protect the bats.
3. Don't expect to see ANY wildlife in the cave, not even bats.

Just be prepared!
1. EVERY person in a wild cave should carry at least one flashlight and have at least two spare flashlights.
2. Wear long pants, good shoes or boots, a jacket, and gloves. It's cold in the cave ALWAYS!
3. Don't take kids younger than six. They won't remember it anyway.
Written March 20, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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