Golden Gate Photo - Lava Beds and Vicinity Gallery
Fine Art Photography from Lava Beds National Monument, Burney Falls, and the Falls of the McCloud River in Northeastern California.


The Lava Beds National Monument was established in 1925. Over 400 caves (lava tubes) have been discovered and more are discovered each year. Lava tubes are formed when certain types of lava (basalt) flow from a volcano. Just like at Kilauea in Hawai'i, this type of lava is hot (1,800oF, 900oC). The edges of the flow cool quickly in the open air and sometimes slow down and solidify while the underlying lava, insulated from the air, continues to flow hot and fast. When the outpouring of lava ceases, and if the lava has an opening downstream, the lava can drain out, leaving a shell, the lava tube, behind. Some lava tubes form then collapse, leaving surface openings and troughs. Others are so well insulated, that seasonal and perennial ice is formed inside. Many branch and meander like a braided stream. The Lava Beds are part of a larger volcanic terrain called the Modoc Plateau. Spectacular waterfalls form where a river pours over the edge of one of the lava flows. The Modoc Plateau is one of the stops on the Geomorphic Provinces Geotour

Blue Grotto Cave

Blue Grotto Cave

The pale gray-blue walls, created by mineral coatings, surround this skylight.

Print No. A99NW-21-12

Multicolored Lava Stalactites, Hopkins Chocolate Cave

Multicolored Lava Stalactites, Hopkins Chocolate Cave

Discovered by E. L. Hopkins in 1892, this lava tube was named for the light brown coating of mud and minerals on its roof and walls. The lava stalactites (also called lavacicles or shark tooth stalactites) form on overhanging surfaces after the lava in the tube recedes and the lava coating the roof and walls hardens as it drips.

Print No. A99NW-22-6

Burney Falls

Burney Falls
McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park


The upper part of the cliff face is the 2 million year old Burney Basalt lava flow. The lower part of the cliff is composed of older tilted sedimentary rocks. Look closely and you will see the tilt of the beds through the cascading water. Note that the river forms the two main waterfalls on the right. The remainder of the cascade is from groundwater seeping out along a line of springs at the contact between the two rock units. The falls are 129 feet (39 meters) high.

Print No. A99NW-23-1

More Images of Waterfalls

Potholes in Basalt, Falls of the McCloud River

Potholes in Basalt, Falls of the McCloud River

Here, just above the lower falls, potholes are formed in the basalt due to the scouring action of sediment carried by the river.

Print No. A99NW-23-6

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