This place is fascinating. We only gave ourselves a couple of hours here and we left planning a weekend-long camping trip. There is so much to see and do here!
We only had time to do one cave. We did the chocolate cave. It was so beautiful, cool, crazy, and lots of fun. We wished we could do a few more. Chocolate cave has big caverns in it, covered in glittery gold bacteria. Where there isn't bacteria, the walls look like melting chocolate turned to stone. It is easy to imagine the lava flowing through and leaving the tube behind. It inspired our imaginations.
The visitor center is small but super helpful and informative. The rangers are great at recommending where you should start, what you should do and how you can do it safely. Also, because of disease ravaging bats on the East Coast, the park wants you to stop there first to make sure visitors are not endangering bats. They gave us a permit to put in our windshield so rangers would know we were cleared for using the caves. There are books available for public reading and a museum with information about the natural history, the geology, and the various people who have lived and fought in Lava Beds. We bought hard hats there for $6.50. We were definitely glad we had them when we were stooping and crawling as we explored the beautiful cave. Then, when we were leaving after our quick trip, we were glad the kids had such cool souvenirs to remember the place by.
The kids loved it, the adults loved it. We will definitely go do some more of the caves again.