Lava River Cave to require visitor orientation

About cave etiquette, white-nose syndrome

BEND, Ore. - In an effort to improve safety and protect sensitive resources, Newberry National Volcanic Monument will now require all visitors to Lava River Cave to attend a 10-minute orientation before entering the cave.

The ranger-led talks will increase visitors’ knowledge about white-nose syndrome, proper cave etiquette and the unique cave environment. The talks will be given at the cave site and typically offered every 15 minutes to a maximum of 25 visitors at a time.

While Lava River Cave is a popular recreation destination, the cave also serves as critical bat habitat. As white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease affecting bats, continues to spread around the country, Monument rangers are taking extra steps to protect Lava River Cave’s bat population, which has not been infected.

White-nose syndrome does not affect humans; however, the disease can be transported on clothing, boots and gear.

There is inherent risk when entering a cave; being unprepared increases those risks. The hike through Lava River Cave is a difficult, two mile round-trip hike over uneven, and often slippery, terrain. The cave has no indoor lighting and is 42 degrees Fahrenheit year-round.

Visitors should arrive with at least two light sources, sturdy, closed-toe shoes and warm layers. Lights can be rented at the site for $5.00.

Visitors may experience wait times that could potentially be long. Peak visitation times include holiday weekends and after 10 a.m. during the months of July and August. Visitors are encouraged to come early in the day to avoid long waits. If the designated parking spaces are full, the cave is at capacity. Visitors may not park on the road or block traffic.

Previously, visitors entered the Lava River Cave without an orientation. By attending a ranger-led talk, visitors will receive increased information to help them enjoy Lava River Cave, while contributing to the protection of local bat populations.

Lava River Cave and nearby Lava Lands Visitor Center will open on Friday, May 5 for the season. Spring hours will be Thursday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Beginning May 25, both locations will be open daily, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Lava River Cave and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Lava Lands Visitor Center. 

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