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Lava Beds National Monument

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Lava Beds N.M.
Lava Beds N.M.
Location Lava Beds National Monument Rd, Tulelake, CA 96134
Website
Lava Beds N.M.

Lava Beds National Monument is located in northeastern California, in Siskiyou and Modoc counties. This United States National Monument lies on the northeastern flank of Medicine Lake Volcano and has the largest total area covered by a volcano in the Cascade Range.

Overview

Fern Cave at Lava Beds National Monument

The region in and around Lava Beds National Monument lies at the junction of the Sierra-Klamath, Cascade, and the Great Basin physiographic provinces. The monument was established as a United States National Monument on November 21, 1925, and includes more than 46,000 acres (190 km2).

Lava Beds National Monument has numerous lava tube caves, with 25 having marked entrances and developed trails for public access and exploration. The monument also offers trails through the high Great Basin xeric shrubland desert landscape and the volcanic field. In 1872 and 1873, the area was the site of the Modoc War, involving a band led by Kintpuash (also known as Captain Jack). The area of Captain Jack's Stronghold was named in his honor.

Recent activity

A series of small earthquakes in late 1988 has been attributed to subsidence in the caldera. N-NE trending ground cracks, as well as N-NE trending vent series show relationships between tectonism and volcanism. One very prevalent ground crack exists along the northeastern boundary of the monument- "The Big Crack."

Volano Geology

Lava Beds National Monument is geologically significant because of its wide variety of "textbook" volcanic formations, including lava tube caves, fumaroles, cinder cones, spatter cones, pit craters, hornitos, maars, lava flows, and volcanic fields.

Volcanic eruptions on the Medicine Lake shield volcano have created an incredibly rugged landscape punctuated by these many landforms of volcanism.

Cinder Cones

  • Hippo Butte,
  • Three Sisters
  • Juniper Butte
  • Crescent Butte = older than the Mammoth and Modoc Crater flows, more than 30,000–40,000 years old. * Eagle Nest Butte and
  • Bearpaw Butte are 114,000 years old.
  • Schonchin Butte cinder cone and the andesitic flow from its base were formed around 62,000 years ago.
  • Valentine Cave erupted 10,850 years ago. An eruption that formed The Castles is younger than the Mammoth Crater flows.
  • Fleener Chimneys, such as the Devils Homestead flow, 10,500 years ago,
  • Black Crater 3,025 years ago.
  • Cinder ButteAbout 1,110 years ago, plus or minus 60 years, the Callahan flow was produced by an eruption from Cinder Butte.

Lava Tubes

Lava flows dated to about 30,000–40,000 years ago formed most of the lava tube caves in the monument. As the hot basaltic lava flowed downhill, the top cooled and crusted over, insulating the rest of the lava and forming lava tubes. Lavacicles on the ceiling of a lava tube were produced as the level of lava in the tube retreated and the viscous lava on the ceiling dripped as it cooled.

Dripstone was created when lava splashed on the inside walls of the tubes. The leaching of minerals from pumice gravel, soils, and overlying rock provides for deposition of secondary speleothems in lava tubes.

Lava Beds National Monument has the largest concentration of lava tube caves in North America. One has electrical lighting, the others are illuminated by ceiling collapse portals or require flashlights, available on loan.

Historic Landmarks

Indian Archeological site

Lava Beds National Monument includes Petroglyph Point, one of the largest panels of Native American rock art in the United States. The region was historically occupied by the Modoc people. The Lava Beds National Monument Archeological District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in March 1991.

Captain Jack's Stronghold

During the Modoc War of 1872–1873, warriors of a band led by Kintpuash (Captain Jack) used the lava beds as a defensive stronghold to resist being captured and returned to the Klamath Reservation in Oregon, to which they had been removed, as European Americans wanted their lands.

In April 1873, at a peace commission meeting, Captain Jack killed General Edward Canby while associates killed Reverend Eleazer Smith and wounded two other commissioners. Canby was the only general to be killed in the Indian Wars.

Lava Beds Wilderness High Adventure

Lava Beds Wilderness The Lava Beds National Wilderness is a 28,460-acre (11,520 ha) wilderness area within the Lava Beds National Monument. It was designated by the US Congress on October 13, 1972 with passage of Public Law 92-493.[6] The wilderness protects more than half of the national monument in two separate eastern and western units. The larger eastern unit contains the extensive Schonchin lava flow on the east side of the monument. The western unit covers the monument's area within the transition zone of the Cascade Range's montaine southern end and the arid Modoc Plateau ecosystems.

The different soil types creates plant community diversity in the Wilderness Area, providing various habitats for a wide range of wildlife. The numerous coyotes and foxes, as well as raptors, feed on rodents such as the jackrabbit and kangaroo rat. The kangaroo rat is especially adapted to dry, waterless environments because it can go 'a lifetime' without water.[7] A metabolic process occurs whereby it synthesizes water from chemical components in the dry seeds it eats.[7]

Many the birds seen the Wilderness Area are raptors, with 24 species of hawks identified.[8] The monument is located on the Pacific Flyway and the Bald eagle winters here in the northern portion of the Wilderness Area.

The National Park Service manages the Lava Beds Wilderness Area and has several restrictions in place. Camping is prohibited near cave entrances or trails. Open campfires may be prohibited during very hot and dry weather.

Lava Beds trails

The Lava Beds National Monument has 13 hiking trails, all of which cross or enter the backcountry.[1] The most popular trails are short, but lead to a number of historic sites as to several geological areas within the Lava Beds Wilderness. The long trails are mostly in designated wilderness areas.

These trails are primarily associated with park attractions, especially the Lava Beds geological wilderness, and are sometimes out and back day hikes, and in many cases are improved boardwalks and supported with interpretive signs and exhibits.

Trail Name (Arranged by distance from Visitor Center) Description Trail Head(s) Length
The Short Trails
Bunchgrass Trail Follows the northeast side of Crescent Butte Starts across from Site B-7 in the campground. 1 mile (1.6 km)
Missing Link Trail Links the Three Sisters Trail to the Bunchgrass Trail, creating a 10 miles (16 km) loop. Begins on the Bunchgrass Trail, about 0.5 miles (0.80 km) from campground B-Loop. 0.7 miles (1.1 km)
Heppe Ice Cave Leads into Heppe Cave. Located on the road to Mammoth Crater, 2.2 miles (3.5 km) from the main park road. 0.4 miles (0.64 km)
Big Nasty Trail Named after a rough lava area covered by brush, described as "big and nasty". Starts on Mammoth Crater rim, on the Hidden Valley pullout. 1 mile (1.6 km)
Schonchin Butte Trail Steep trail, has a 500-foot elevation gain and leads to the lookout building Located on Schonchin Butte 0.9 miles (1.4 km)
Symbol Bridge Trail Winds past interesting lava tube structures and other geological features On the first parking area of Skull Cave road, across from the Missing Link Trail Windy 0.75 miles (1.21 km)
Black Crater and Thomas-Wright Battlefield Trail Combines volcanism and history. Within season leads around good views of wildflower displays Within the Thomas-Wright Battlefield memorial 0.3 miles (0.48 km) to the Crater, then 1.2 miles (1.9 km)
Gillem Bluff Climbs to the top of Gillem Bluff for a view of Gillems Camp. Has a 550-foot elevation gain. Gillem Bluff 0.7 miles (1.1 km)
Captain Jack's Stronghold Trail A rough terrain loop trail with two self-guided interpretive areas through the heart of the Modoc War historical battlefield. Captain Jack's Stronghold 41°49′18″N 121°30′18″W / 41.82167°N 121.505°W / 41.82167; -121.505 (Captain Jack's Stronghold Trail) Inner loop: .6 miles (0.97 km). Outer loop: 1.1 miles (1.8 km)
Petroglyph Point Trail Impressive view of the basin and the Medicine Lake Volcano. Northeast side of Petroglyph Point about .3 miles (0.48 km) beyond the bulletin board. 1.6 miles (2.6 km)
The Long Trails
Three Sisters Trail Loops out into the wilderness and returns to Skull Cave Road. Trailhead at the campground from A-Loop 8.8 miles (14.2 km)
Lyons Trail Crosses the wilderness area on a north-south axis between Skull Cave parking area and Hospital Rock on the North Boundary Road. Skull Cave parkinglot 9.8 miles (15.8 km)
Whitney Butte Trail Crosses the wilderness in an east-west direction around Whitney Butte. Has best view of Mount Shasta and Callahan lava flow Trailhead at the Merrill Cave parking area. 3.3 miles (5.3 km)

Trail Map

Lavabedsmap.gif

References

  1. National Park Service. Lava Beds Trails