We're always itching to go on new adventures that take us to hidden gems. If we channel our inner Indiana Jones, we're sure to come up with some really cool places. One of them is the lava cave in Arizona where you can hike one mile underground through an actual lava tube. 

The Lava River Cave in Flagstaff, Arizona is a one-mile-long lava tube that formed about 700,000 thousand years ago! You can hike this cave year-round, although during winter some roads may be closed. If the roads are closed, it's still possible to hike to the cave from US 180. However, it's about a 4.5-mile hike one way. 

You can visit this cave for a daytime hiking trip with friends. There's free parking in the parking lot near the cave and there's a sign pointing you the way. You should plan on dressing warm because the cave can get as cool as 42 degrees Farenheight even during summer. Just be sure to bring plenty of flashlights because there's only one way in and one way out of this secret underground cave. 

Once inside the cave, you'll see that there are "small wave-like undulations in the floor" and icicles made of stone hanging from the ceiling. You and your friends will be in awe of nature's beautiful creation!

The best time to visit is during the summer when the roads are open. You can even camp one mile away from the cave if you want to go on many cave excursion adventures and take in all that Flagstaff has to offer. 

The cave is pitch black, so it's best if you plan this trip with friends or your S/O. You should also tell family and friends where you're going and when you plan to be back. The cave floor might also be slippery, so dress accordingly. 

Below are some items you should pack on your trip: 

  • 2-3 sources of light (the more the better)
  • Comfortable and steady shoes such as hiking boots or proper sneakers
  • Warm clothes because temps in the cave can go below 40 degrees F.
  • Optional: a helmet to protect your head if you slip and fall

When you're done with your hike you can go on a mini picnic or visit these 12 places in Arizona that will be worth a fall road trip. 

Lava River Cave

Price: Free

Location: Flagstaff, AZ

Why You Should Go: How often does someone say they've hiked underground before? Not often but you can! It's only 2 miles, roundtrip, making for a quick daytime adventure. 


We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit any location, you check the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, respect the environment.

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