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Ultimate Guide to Infernal Caverns, California (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)

Ultimate Guide to Infernal Caverns, California (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)

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Infernal Caverns is the site of the 1867 battle between the US Armed Forces and Shoshone and Pit River Indians. Infernal Caverns Battleground is California Historical Landmark No 16. Also known as Hell Caves, the caverns are around 7 miles from Likely and 1 mile from Ferry Ranch in Modoc County. 

Infernal Caverns Cover Image
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

The Native Americans had made a fortress out of lava rocks. As fighting ensued between the two sides, the Crook’s side managed to scale the cliffs despite heavy casualties. The fighting continued, but the Natives withdrew deeper and deeper into the caverns. By the 3rd day, the Natives fled the caverns for good. 

History of Infernal Caverns 

Infernal Caverns is the site of the most famous Indian fights in the history of California. A battle between 110 US soldiers and Native American tribe members took place on the 26th and 27th of September in 1867. The Native Americans, armed with ammunition, attacked the white settlers throughout parts of Idaho, Nevada, and California. 

Considering these, The US Army General George Crook was sent to quell these Indian uprisings with the help of the 39th Mounted Infantry. He managed to track a group of Native Americans that included women and children to a lonely spot on the California-Oregon border and faced a fortress of caves and rocks that looked impossible to breach on all counts. A bloody battle took place between the Native Americans and the US Army under General Crook. The fighting continued well into the night as the Indians took refuge in the nearby caverns, which were named Hell Caves or Infernal Caverns. 

The battle continued for two days, and in the end, around 20 Native Americans were killed, including women and children. As per reports, General Crook had shot down Chief Sieto himself. On Day III, the remaining Native Americans fled the caverns despite Crook making all efforts to stop their escape by blocking the entrances with boulders. Around 1/3rd of the command was either killed or wounded in this battle, with six soldiers being buried in the slopes.

As per the reports of a Native American, the soldiers left the battle scene after blocking the entrances because they thought that the Indians would eventually feel thirsty and hungry and starve to death in the caves. The soldiers never knew that the Indians were aware of another outlet in the cave through which they made their final escape. The story of the Native Americans and the area’s early settlers have been depicted at the Fort Crook Museum. 

The US Government erected six marble tombstones to mark the locations where the soldiers were buried. In 1995, an additional tombstone was built for Private Willoughby Sawyer, who died in this battle but was never marked. Chris J. Wright, the Californian historian, had pointed out this historical omission. 

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Geological Cave Formations

Infernal Caverns have been primarily built on lava rocks, rocky tunnels, and large boulders. Geological formations are thus absent in these caverns


Infernal Caverns wildlife

Infernal Caverns do not have a regular cave structure; so, you will miss the bats and creatures usually found within the caves. Since it is an uninhabited terrain, you are bound to encounter small insects or animals like coyotes, even though such sightings are not confirmed

Is Infernal Caverns Haunted?

These caverns were the site of a bloody battle between the Native Americans and the US Army. The caverns are not haunted as there are no such adverse reports, but it might make you feel uneasy knowing that so many deaths occurred at the place. 

How Big are Infernal Caverns?

Infernal Caverns is more famous as a battlefield where the Native Americans fought with the US soldiers. There are no exact measurements available for the said place.  

Infernal Caverns Tours

There are no tours taking place at the caverns.

Tour Prices and Discounts

No tours take place at Infernal Caverns.  

Is Infernal Caverns Cold?

They are warm during the summer months, but you might feel a little chilly during the winter. 

What to Wear?

Since the cavern is not an actual cave, visitors are encouraged to wear clothes as per the prevailing weather conditions. 

Infernal Caverns Hours

There are no specific hours to visit this place, but it is expected that visitors should come within the regular visiting hours of any attraction, notably, 10 am to 5 pm. 


What to Do (Beside Tours)

One cannot do much here except look at the six marble tombstones that the US Government had erected in the memory of the soldiers who fought with the Native Americans in the Battle of Infernal Caverns. 

Best Time to Visit 

It is accessible throughout the year. Visitors are encouraged to come here any time of the year. 

How to Get to Infernal Caverns 

Infernal Caverns is located 6.5 miles west of Likely in California and 1 mile south of Ferry Ranch in Modoc County. 

Provide a safe bat habitat
Provide a safe bat habitat!

Hotels Nearby

The caverns are not a hugely visited site, but there are some decent accommodations available near the battleground. 

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Download our FREE Infernal Caverns Guide (Unofficial) 

Visiting Infernal Caverns

Do you need more information before visiting? You can search the internet for more information as there is no office or Visitor Center for this. 

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