In the heart of the Mojave National Preserve there is a large hole in the ground, with a large metal stairwell that leads you beneath the earth’s surface, into an underground cave. This isn’t your ordinary cave however, this cave was formed many thousands of years ago during a volcanic eruption.
Volcanic activity in this area dates back 7.6 million years ago, the last known lava flow can be traced back to 10,000 years ago. Lava tubes are formed when lava flowing across the earths surface begins to cool and harden. The lava flowing beneath the earths surface continues flowing, and empties out of the tunnel that is formed below the hardened lava on the surface. Thus creating a lava tube.
The National Park Service installed the stairwell to allow visitors to experience the lava tube from below the surface. There are many small openings that allow sunlight in, thus lighting most of the tube. There are multiple “rooms” within the tube, each of them being unique. Give your eyes some time to adjust to the lighting before trying to navigate your way through the tube.