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.

Merrill Cave is one of a few caves within Lava Beds National Monument that contains perennial ice. In fact, visitors in the early 1900s would frequent this and nearby caves to skate on the large ice floor and to make ice cream! Today, you can't touch or access the ice in order to preserve it in its natural state. Much of the ice has melted, leaving behind a much smaller area of frozen water. Metal stairs and walkways have been installed so that you can look but not touch. Still, a visit to Merrill Cave is a unique look at the underground world.

From the picnic area, a short, paved trail leads to the cave entrance. This is designated one of the "least challenging" caves in the park, meaning you can walk upright in most places. Still, you'll want to bring at least two light sources and dress in layers.

To visit the caves in Lava Beds National Monument, pick up a free permit from the visitor center. There you'll learn about White-nose Syndrome and what you can do to protect the bats and help keep this deadly disease out of the park.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Park entrance fee


Short hike.


Probably no ice.

Pets allowed

Not Allowed


Historically significant
Family friendly
Picnic tables
Vault toilet


Nearby Lodging + Camping


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