July 25-26, 2011 – Lava Beds National Monument, Tulelake, CA
Monday morning, July 25th, we left Prospect, OR and headed south towards California. We stopped just across the state line at Tulelake, CA and are camped at the Tulelake Butte Valley Fair Grounds. We have a very nice site on the grass and under a great shade tree. The sites are narrow but there are currently only two rigs here so we can spread out. Now that we are no longer in Oregon, Rex is going to miss having someone else pump our gas. In Oregon it is against the law to pump your own gas and Rex enjoyed letting someone else do the pumping.
Camille and Cody enjoying the grass and shade.
Tuesday we drove to Lava Beds National Monument just south of Tulelake. Lava Bed National Monument lies on the northern flank of the massive Medicine Lake volcano. Medicine Lake is a shield volcano and last erupted about 1,100 years ago.
We stopped at Petroglyph Point where there are hundreds of petroglyphs and pictographs along a cliff.
Mammoth Crater, within Medicine Lake Volcano, erupted 30,000 years ago sending massive flows of lava as far as 10 miles downhill, creating vast networks of lava tubes. When ceilings of the lava tubes collapse, they give access to the caves below. Lava Beds has over 700 lava tube caves. We went into Mushpot Cave, the only cave that has lights and an interpretative trail. The trail had red rope lights along it and there were lighted displays – much easier to negotiate than the dark lava cave we hiked at Newberry National Volcanic Monument.
The ceiling has collapsed in two places on this lava tube forming a natural bridge.
This is one of 3 chimneys in this area which lies over a fault. The chimneys were formed as lava flowed from a hole and thickened clots of lava were spattered higher and higher. The deepest chimney is 50 feet. Over the years visitors have dropped rocks and trash into the chimneys to see how deep they are. They were eventually filled! In 1990-1991 a volunteer crew removed nearly 35 tons of material, one bucketful at a time, to open one chimney. The remaining two are still filled with debris.
A view of the Devil’s Homestead Lava Flow.
The Modoc Indian Wars were fought here in 1872-73 as the US Army tried to get the Modoc Indians to move to a reservation north of Klamath Falls, Oregon. A band of 60 Modoc warriers defended this natural lava fortress for nearly five months against calavery that outnumbered them 10 to 1.
After the Modoc War the Modoc Indians were removed to the reservation, but today tribal members take part in both private and public activities at Lava Beds to ensure that their connections to the land endure.
We enjoyed our visit to the monument and even learned some history. We continue to be fascinated by volcanic areas.