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J.D. Howard

Father of the Lava Beds

Much of the lava beds area looks the same way it did from 1916 to 1957. This familiar scene includes scrub land, sage brush, juniper trees, broken lava fields, deep pumice and walking surfaces broken by either ‘a‘á lava fields, or pāhoehoe surface features. Dense mahogany thickets abound. It is hot in the summer and bitterly cold in the winter. The elevation varies from 4,000 to 6,000 feet.

In September of 1916, Judson Dean Howard walked into the lands we now know as Lava Beds National Monument. That trip changed his life, and ultimately, ours too.

He never owned a car, or a horse or a mule. He traveled at the convenience of others. It is 40 miles from Klamath Falls to the lava beds. Quite often, he walked that distance just to visit the caves. When JD saw the remains of the Modoc War lands and the caves and bridges being broken up and stolen by outsiders, he began a campaign to protect the lands he had come to love.

He wrote articles. He wrote letters. He visited politicians. He talked to locals. He did everything he could to protect "The Beds". Eventually, in 1925, President Coolidge set aside 43,000 acres as a monument to the Modoc War and the caves therein.

His dream fulfilled, Judson Dean Howard died in 1961 while talking to a Lava Beds National Monument ranger.

Lava Beds Cave

Lava Beds Cave. Photo courtesy: National Park Service.

Today's Weather: Lava Beds National Monument, CA

  • Updated: Wednesday, February 24 at 7:38 pm
  • Reporting Station: VAN BREMMER (VABC1)
  • Elevation: 5,303 ft.
  • GPS: 41.642967;-121.794875
  • Data provided by: National Weather Service
30° F
Mostly Clear

Regional Map Forecast Wind: 18 mph (E)
Humidity: 40%
Dewpoint: 9°F
Barometer: N/A
Visibility: N/A

Tonight: Mostly clear. Low around 21, with temperatures rising to around 23 overnight. Southeast wind 2 to 10 mph.
Thursday: Mostly sunny. High near 49, with temperatures falling to around 43 in the afternoon. West wind 2 to 21 mph, with gusts as high as 31 mph.