Hike-in Required
Open Year-round
ADA accessible
Guided tours
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Catacombs Cave is the largest cave in Lava Beds National Monument. As the crow flies, it's 2,000 feet from the entrance to the cave's end, but it's total traverse length meanders over 6,900 feet. This network of branched passageways reminded one of its earliest explorers of photos he had seen of the Roman Catacombs, hence the name. Today, the cave provides visitors a unique opportunity to wander, unguided, through thousands of feet of un-signed tunnels beneath the surface of the Earth.

It takes four to five hours to see the entire cave, and you'll need to be comfortable squeezing into tight spaces. Some of the constrictions are only 1 to 2 feet high! But if you're willing to brave the difficult sections of the cave you will be able to see features named Cleopatra's Grave, the Elephant's Rump, the Devil's Backbone, and Howard's Hole, among others.

But it is still possible for a novice explorer to enjoy parts of Catacombs Cave. The opening passages are tall enough to stand up in and wide enough for many people to gather side-by-side. You'll see excellent examples of lava flow-stone, pointy stalactites, lava falls and glowing golden cave mold. One metal stairway leads to the Boxing Glove Chamber, but the rest of the cave is largely undeveloped and free for visitors to roam.

You'll need a map to explore this cave safely. Inquire at the visitor center. Bring two or three light sources and extra batteries. Also helpful are: knee pads, helmet and a pee bottle. Please practice the Leave No Trace principles while exploring Catacombs. Planning ahead will make it easier to leave this cave as wild and beautiful as you found it.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Park entrance fee


Unique cave experience. Solitude.


Navigation can be difficult. Tight spaces.

Pets allowed

Not Allowed


Historically significant
Geologically significant
Big vistas


Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping


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