BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — Beginning August 1, the U.S. Forest Service will implement a timed reservation system for parking in the Lava River Cave parking lot, due to a rise in visits, limited spaces and resulting safety concerns.
The change to a timed reservation system is being made in response to increasing visits to Lava River Cave — over 70,000 per year — that cannot be accommodated with the parking at the cave, the agency said in Thursday’s announcement.
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 Forest Service said.
“We understand that this is a change for our visitors to Lava River Cave; however, having seen the public safety concerns as people are parked along roadways for an hour or more to enter the site, as well as increasing conflicts between visitors waiting in line, I felt it was a step that needed to be taken,” said Kevin Larkin, Bend-Ft. Rock District ranger.
The goals of the timed reservation systems 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.
Beginning next Thursday, 50% of the timed reservation tickets will be available on a rolling 30-day booking window. The remaining 50% of timed reservation tickets will be available on a 24-hour booking window beginning July 31.
All reservations are made through Recreation.gov and can be made at 7 a.m. each day. Timed reservation tickets are free; however, Recreation.gov charges a $2 service fee per transaction for processing the reservation.
Reservations also can be made by calling Recreation.gov at 1-877-444-6777. The Recreation.gov 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.
Timed reservations will be for a 90-minute 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 Recreation.gov 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.
For more information, please contact the Bend-Ft. Rock Ranger District at 541-383-5300.
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