Over 700 caves are located in the monument. They formed when streams of hot lava began to cool. The outside hardened while the center continued to flow. As the hot lava drained out a tube was created. About two dozen of the caves have been developed to make them easier for visitors to explore. A permit is required.
The monument and the little agricultural town of Tulelake are on the homeland of the Modoc tribe who were forced to move to the Klamath reservation in the 1860s. Some of the Modocs left the reservation in the 1870s and hid in the lava beds which became known as Captain Jack’s Stronghold after the Modoc leader, Kientpoos, called Captain Jack by the settlers. After six months of fighting the last of the resisters were captured and sent to Oklahoma.
None of the caves or trails are accessible so this is a drive through park for people with mobility issues. The visitor center, which has a short film and exhibits about the lava formations and the Modocs, is accessible.
The visitor center lot has long bus/RV spots.