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Few People Know About This Hidden Lava Tube Cave You Can Explore In Northern California

When it comes to caving, Northern California is the place to be. After all, we’re home to the one and only Lava Beds National Monument which contains the largest concentration of lava tube caves in North America. 25 of these caves contain marked entrances, so it can be pretty overwhelming when it comes to deciding which one to explore. Most people opt for the uber popular Skull Cave or other easy caves such as Valentine, Sentinel, and Mushpot. These are the caves that usually see the most action when tourist season is in full swing. But there’s so many other amazing caves to explore! If you really want to be blown away, head straight to the cave called Golden Dome. This little-known lava tube cave is one of the park’s most amazing adventures and you’ll definitely want to see it with your own eyes.

There’s a lot to see at Lava Beds National Monument near Tulelake. That’s why it’s best to plan out all that you’d like to explore ahead of time. If you are thinking about visiting this epic monument soon, you’ll definitely want to put Golden Dome on the list. Trust us.


Although it’s located near the entrance, Golden Dome has a less defined trail and is considered a more challenging lave tube to explore. However, the extra effort it takes to explore this cave definitely pays off!


You’ll enter the cave via a steep staircase that descends into the cave’s narrow opening. It’s definitely a tight squeeze, but manageable by most people. Just be sure to take it nice and slow.


Once you reach the cave’s floor, you’ll be in total awe of just how massive the lava tube is. It stretches out in both directions into complete darkness. The floor is covered in rocks, so be sure to watch your step.


It isn’t long before you discover how Golden Dome received its name. The cave walls and ceiling are covered in this bright yellow substance that appears to glow. The substance is actually a hydrophobic bacteria that water droplets reflect off of, creating a “golden” effect.


The inside of the cave is cold, so be sure to bring a jacket. There are a lot of regions throughout the cave where crouching is necessary and the ceiling is very low. Helmets are definitely encouraged.


All in all, the lava tube cave stretches for approximately 700 meters. Golden Dome may not be the easiest cave in the park to access, but you’ll be so glad you decided to explore a side of Northern California that is often overlooked.


You’ll find Lava Beds National Monument at 1 Indian Well Hqts, Tulelake, CA 96134. For more information, you can visit the National Parks website here.


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