Indian Well Cave Trail
ElevationAscent: 4' 1 m
Descent: -5' -1 m
High: 4,765' 1,452 m
Low: 4,761' 1,451 m
GradeAvg Grade: 3% (2°)
Max Grade: 3% (2°)
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“Here it comes!”— QuinTCM TCM
The trail itself is easy to follow and leads from the parking area into the cave and to a small platform at the bottom of a stairway. The height of the cave is impressive at this platform. On the east side of the platform is a small alcove that once contained water. This alcove is the "well" for which the cave is named. Modocs, and possibly their ancestors, used the cave as a water source for their camps located on Indian Well flat, which is where the visitor center is now located. Writing used to adorn some of the rocks at the entrance to the cave pointing to the water below.
The trail ends at the platform, however, it is possible to continue through the cave and up a steep rocky incline to small opening at the other end of the cave. The small opening leads to a round, collapsed portion of the lava tube. It is possible to climb out of this collapse and follow a trail back to the parking area and trailhead. However, at the end of the collapse is another opening that leads to a very short segment of cave.
The book "Lava Beds Caves" by Charlie & Jo Larson is an excellent resource and guide for exploring the caves of Lava Beds NM. It is available for purchase at the Visitor Center.
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Need to Know, Flora & Fauna, Runner Notes
Land Manager: U.S. National Park Service - Lava Beds National Monument