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Lava River Cave timed reservations available starting next week; second year of new system, longer visits

Lava River Cave
Lava River Cave

(Update: Forest Service rep says visits extended to 2 hours; system has helped)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Timed reservation tickets for Lava River Cave open for reservations starting next week for the 2023 season, the second year the system has been in place due to rising visitor counts and limited parking.

Starting next Wednesday, April 5, 50% of the Lava River Cave timed reservation tickets will be available on on a rolling 30-day booking window. The remaining 50% of timed reservation tickets will be available on a 24-hour booking window beginning May 4.

Timed reservations will be for a two-hour entry block each day Lava River Cave is open. Every day there will be 14 daily entry blocks with a new entry block opening every 30 minutes. If there are available tickets on any day, people at the site without a timed reservation will be able to make a reservation through that day. A timed reservation covers everyone in a vehicle, there is no per person charge. In addition, if visitors bike or walk to the site, they do not need a timed reservation.

All reservations are made through and can be made at 7 a.m. each day. Timed reservation tickets are free; however, charges a $2 service fee per transaction for processing the reservation. Reservations also can be made by calling at 1-877-444-6777. The call center is open daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. PST. People can either print the timed reservation ticket or download it to their mobile device to show to the attendant at the site.

The change to a timed reservation system was made last summer in response to increasing visits to Lava River Cave, over 70,000 per year, that cannot be accommodated with the parking at the cave. In recent years, visitors have been parking along the roadways outside of the cave while waiting for a parking space to open causing serious and increasing safety concerns for the public and the staff at the site.

The goals of the timed reservation system are to increase public safety, reduce public frustration from waiting in line for unknown periods of time before getting into the site, and to spread out visits to the site to make the experience more enjoyable to visitors.

"The primary change following last season is increasing the length of a visit from 90 minutes to two hours," forest Public Affairs Specialist Jaimie Olle said. "This was in direct response to feedback we heard from visitors."

Olle added, "Maintaining 50% of tickets for reservation during a 24-hour booking window of availability proved successful in allowing people who just learned about the need for a reservation to secure a ticket for the following day.

"During the slower season, tickets are sometimes available the same day, and a cell booster at the site helped people navigate the system on their mobile devices to make a day-of reservation," she said.

"The Lava River Cave Timed Reservation Ticket System has improved the flow of vehicles in and around the site while increasing public and employee safety and creating a more enjoyable experience for visitors.:

For more information, contact the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District at 541-383-5300.

Article Topic Follows: Deschutes County

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