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Lava River Cave

Lava River Cave

It takes a special person to climb inside a dark cave and leave the light behind.

The walls can feel like they're closing in, and an occasional bat may scramble your nerves.

Dedicated cavers couldn't care less about all that as they climb and crawl through every hole in the ground big enough to squeeze through. It's the spelunker, a name given to the inexperienced caver, who needs an easy introduction to the sport.

With its trouble-free road access and an improved trail for the length of the cave, the Lava River Cave at the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, 12 miles south of Bend, is an excellent first cave to explore.

Over a mile in length, it's one of Oregon's longest lava tubes and, like most lava caves, maintains a summertime temperature between 40 and 45 degrees.

The Forest Service, which runs the facility, offers lantern rentals and reminds visitors that they restrict some types of personal lanterns. Glass globes and white gas or kerosene-powered lanterns are not allowed.

Scheduled tours are given by a naturalist who will explain the many geologic features of a lava tube.

For the latest information contact the Lava Lands Visitor Center, 541-593-2421, or visit the Forest Service Web site at www.fs.fed.us/r6/centraloregon.

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