Hiker Rescued From Flagstaff Area's Lava River Cave

Kevin Wemlinger | Lava River Cave

An injured hiker had to be rescued last week from one of Northern Arizona's strangest geological features.

As The Arizona Republic reported, the Coconino County Sheriff's Office and other organizations responded to the Lava River Cave, northwest of Flagstaff, around 2 p.m. July 9. Near the end of the 1-mile-long cave, they found a 44-year-old hiker who had injured his ankle.

Rocky and uneven terrain complicated the rescue of the man, The Republic reported, as did the fact that most of the cave is completely dark. Ultimately, a team of more than 20 rescuers got the man out of the cave around 6 p.m.

As we told our readers in a recent issue of Arizona Highways, the Lava River Cave is thought to have formed in a matter of hours about 700,000 years ago, when lava erupted from a nearby volcanic vent. The temperature in the cave remains in the 30s and 40s year-round, making it a welcome refuge from Arizona's summer heat.

Visitors to the cave should prepare for rocky terrain and total darkness. Take two or three light sources, such as headlamps and flashlights, with you, and wear sturdy shoes and warm clothes. If you plan to go to where the cave dead-ends, you'll have to crouch or even crawl in some spots. To learn more, visit this Coconino National Forest website.

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