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Mushpot Cave and Indian Well Cave

Lava Beds National Monument

Warner Mountains + Modoc Plateau, California

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Mushpot Cave and Indian Well Cave

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  • The trailhead and parking are located at the park visitor center.- Mushpot Cave and Indian Well Cave
  • A sign behind the visitor center patio points to the trail.- Mushpot Cave and Indian Well Cave
  • The paved path to the caves.- Mushpot Cave and Indian Well Cave
  • Mushpot Cave entrance.- Mushpot Cave and Indian Well Cave
  • Mushpot Cave is the only lava tunnel in the park with a developed footpath and lights inside the tunnel.- Mushpot Cave and Indian Well Cave
  • Illuminated Mushpot lava tunnel.- Mushpot Cave and Indian Well Cave
  • The tunnel path dead ends at an informational sign.- Mushpot Cave and Indian Well Cave
  • Informational signs along the paved footpath.- Mushpot Cave and Indian Well Cave
  • Signs marking Indian Well Cave.- Mushpot Cave and Indian Well Cave
  • Entering Indian Well Cave requires walking down a rough path.- Mushpot Cave and Indian Well Cave
  • Indian Well Cave.- Mushpot Cave and Indian Well Cave
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Easy access. Lights and interpretive signs. Most accessible cave.
Cons: 
Caves require a steep ladder climb and squatting in order to access.
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Region:
Warner Mountains + Modoc Plateau, CA
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
35.00 ft (10.67 m)
Parking Pass: 
National Park Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
0.70 mi (1.13 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
4,790.00 ft (1,459.99 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

The short trail to Mushpot and Indian Well caves may make these caves the easiest and most accessible caves to access. Both have a "Least Challenging" rating by the park on a three-level scale of difficulty in Lava Beds National Monument.

Along with the paved out-and-back trail beginning and ending at the park's visitor center, Mushpot Cave is the only cave within the national monument that contains lighting and a footpath built into the cave floor. There is also interpretive signage at points along the walk through the cave and a small set of benches for tour presentations.

Accessing Mushpot Cave still requires a climb down a steep metal ladder, and there are several points inside the cave that require ducking lest you hit your head on the low hard ceilings. However, the developments placed inside this cave make it ideal for park visitors who are looking to find the easiest and most accessible lava tunnel to enter.

Just a little bit farther down the trail is Indian Well Cave, which has much more of a cave feel than that of the lava tunnels. The belly of this cave places you in the hollow core of the lava flow that hardened into tunnel walls while the liquefied molten center continued to flow. This cave is particularly short, and you never lose sight of daylight, so any claustrophobic visitors to the park may enjoy Indian Well much more than other lava tunnels found throughout the park.

Also along this paved trail is a covered picnic area. Located just over one-tenth of a mile from the visitor center, the picnic benches provide a spot away from the crowds centered around the visitor center beneath one of the only canopies of trees within the entire park area.

The round-trip distance of the out-and-back hike is about 0.7 mile, though a fork near the beginning of the trail also leads to access of nearby Labyrinth and Lava Brook caves, and marks the beginning of the Cave Loop Road for those who would want to visit more of the park's lava tunnels along this 3-mile loop hike.

Amenities, including water, snacks, bathrooms, maps, and lights and helmets for sale are all located at the visitor center. All park visitors who wish to enter the caves must check in at the visitor center and receive a free permit.

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(1 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(11 within a 30 mile radius)

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