Mojave Desert: Lava Tube

HikeSnobs rate this: 2.5thumb


Visited: September 6, 2015 & January 17, 2016

Description: A cave-tube formed by molten lava

Length: 0.6 miles round trip

Elevation: 150 feet

Duration: 15 minutes

Difficulty: Easy… As long as you don’t get a flat tire

Terrain: A short, rocky hike. Requires stepping down some steep stairs

Wildlife: Vampires! Kidding, just bats

Pets: Dog-friendly

Parking: Sandy “roundabout” road (35.213754, -115.753092)

Best time to go: If you are trying to catch the sunbeam, go in the afternoon when the sun is at its highest

Bring: Flashlights, water if it’s hot, a friend’s hand if you are scared of the dark!

Disclaimer: If you want want to see the details of the hike and not the chaos of how we got there, skip to Part II.

Part I:

There’s nothing better to the HikeSnobs than a weekend spent in the desert. This time we had our eyes set on the Mojave. Our first stop of the day was the Lava Tubes.

Driving from 127S onto Kelbaker Road, about 20 miles from Baker, we took a left onto a dirt road. The road is decently maintained but it does get bumpier a few miles in. As the road got rockier, we heard a soft pop sound. Please don’t let it be what we think it is. We drove a few more feet and John (who was driving) went to check if the tires were okay.

He got out and gave us a look of despair. Of course we thought he was messing with us. We’ve been joking around the whole weekend. We rolled down our windows expecting to hear a joke but instead, we heard the whooshing sound of a deflating tire.

We were stranded in the on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere!

As the sun beat down on us, Linda and John began putting on the spare tire. Practically receptionless, Alice was able to find one signal bar of hope to call the rental company to figure out our next steps. Teamwork! Since it was a holiday weekend, the closest available rental company was 120 miles away in Las Vegas.

Despite a flat tire, we still wanted to check out the Lava Tube. After all, we were almost there. Looks like the 0.6 mile hike would turn into a 5 mile hike in the desert heat… no problem right?

We left our car on the side of the road and headed towards the trailhead. No more than 10 minute passed and we spotted a white pick up truck headed our way! The HikeSnobs waved down the truck. Captain Dusty and Andrew, firefighters stationed at Mojave’s Hole-in-the-Wall station, just happened to be checking out the lava tube on their day off and graciously gave us a ride to the trailhead.

After not seeing anyone on the road for the last hour, we were relieved to see the two on the trail. Once we parked in the roundabout, we began our hike.

Second attempt with Titerella, the Dodge Durango. Parked in the roundabout with the trail to the left

Part II:

The actual hike is really easy. Short, sweet and to the point. Following the rocky trail, we kept an eye out for a turn on the right that would lead us to the opening of the lava tube. Just a few more yards and TA-DA! Be careful when you descend the stairs.


The rest is simple as you climb down the stairs. You’ll want to head towards your left. The terrain is rocky and requires you to duck on some low clearance parts.

(2 seconds later)

You’ve made it! Unfortunately for us, there was no beautiful light streaming down.


But when we went back a second time, we caught a small beam! Next time, we’re getting a whole beam… dammit.


We continued to explore the lava tube and had some fun! Captain Dusty was brave enough to crawl to the end of a tunnel that led to an underground bar with umbrella drinks. 😛


After a crazy morning, we were glad we made it to our destination. “The only difference between a good day and a bad day is your attitude” and we couldn’t have asked for a better team.

Now we are off to Vegas for a quick detour. 😥

@HikeSnobs Tips:

  • Drive carefully on the dirt path toward the lava tube… unless you want to risk a flat tire. Who knows, maybe some firefighters will save your life too!
  • If you’re there at prime time, bring some sand from the parking lot to throw into the beam so it’s more visible.

Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Leave us a message below!

7 thoughts on “Mojave Desert: Lava Tube

  1. I remember reading somewhere that the best time for the light beam is between 11a-1p, so we visited around noon and the angle was great! There was no “beam” when we entered, but you just have to walk around for a few minutes to stir up some of the tiny dust particles from the ground. After a while the beam will become visible and it will be beautiful. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Andy, I think we got there a little too late. 😑 What helps makes the beams shine is by throwing sand towards the light. We will definitely be back soon!! Third times a charm 😁


  2. Pingback: Abiqua Falls

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