Exploring the Lava Tubes
Near Fillmore, UT, you can explore some lava tubes, climbing underground into caves formed by magma flows. We head down there about once a year, spending the afternoon hiking through the caves, scrambling over rocks, wandering the surface. And we sometimes then stay to watch the sunset, and see the stars come out. If you time it right, and go when there is a new moon, the nearby hills block the lights from Fillmore, and you get a great view of stars and the Milky Way.
How to Get There
From downtown Fillmore, take 200 S west out of town. Just keep going until just before it ends, and you’ll see a dirt road turn off to the left. Take that dirt road, and follow it south for a few miles. You’ll pass a large lava flow on your right, and the road will fork at the end of that flow. Take the left fork. Follow that for a couple miles, watching for dirt rods on the right hand side. You want to turn right at the 2nd right turn. (The first right turn is a smaller road that just goes into a farmer’s field.) Follow that road around a few curves, for another couple miles, and you’ll see a sign pointing up a road to the left, saying “Lava Tubes 2 miles”. This road gets bumpy. Follow it for 2 miles, and the road will end at a circle. Park anywhere around the circle, get out, and explore the holes in the ground. There are cave entrances in most of them, of various sizes. I’ll leave the fun of discovering the caves to you…
Best Times to Visit
Spring and Fall are ideal. We prefer the late afternoons. It doesn’t take more than an hour or two to explore the caves, unless you really want to scour the entire landscape and find every last nook and cranny. So we like to make it the end of a day, for stargazing afterward. Summer is just too hot. While the caves are cool enough to be comfortable even when the temperature hits triple digits, you do need to spend time on the surface, and you wouldn’t want to get a flat tire or have problems on the road in the middle of August.
During the weekends, in the spring and fall, we have almost never been along – there have always been at least one or two other groups there. Sometimes we’ve run into large scout troops out camping for the night. But we’ve also been there on a Tuesday morning and had the place entirely to ourselves.
What to Bring
With any trip where you are more than 10 miles from a town, I always recommend bringing extra food and water, your phone, and good shoes. Just in case you hit problems.
But assuming all goes well, do bring flashlights. Most of the caves have enough light to see, but there is one in particular where it gets narrow and dark, and you need additional light to see the way through. There is also a dead-end cave that needs light to be able to get down past its entrance. And that cave also has some slick, steep rocks at its entrance that are easier to see with a flashlight than trusting the afternoon sun.
Bring a camera – it is tricky to capture the scale of tubes to share with your friends and family who do not join you, but still fun to bring pictures back to everyone.