Big Lava Bed

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Resources: SCSO, EMS: SCEMS, Primary SAR: Wind River SAR, Alternate SAR: VRT

Comms: WA State SAR 155.160 gives fairly good coverage as there are no significant ridges or mountains in the Lava Bed, with the exception of the crater.

Notes: One of the more difficult terrains in the area, the Big Lava Bed contains numerous outcroppings of rough lava, with cracks, caves, ruts and trenches. No roads or trails extend for any meaningful distance into the interior, and there is anecdotal evidence that in places compasses may be rendered ineffective by iron deposits.

Access: Roughly 5 by 10 miles, the Big Lava Bed extends from just northeast of the Willard area (R9E, T4N, Sec 28), up to Goose Lake (R8E, T5N, Sec 11). The Big Lava Bed is almost entirely surrounded by roads; the 60 Rd. on the northwest and north, the 6621 and 6615 to the northeast, the 66 on the east, 6605 borders the southwest, and the 6801 on the west (there is a gap in road access between the 6605 and the 6801).

SAR: Both searching and conducting rescues in the Big Lava Bed are very difficult. Searching for a non responsive subject is painstaking and slow, requiring nearly a foot-by-foot examination of the many nooks and crannies. Even designating search areas is difficult without any meaningful landmarks to establish boundaries.

Rescues are equally difficult because of the terrain. Facilitating such a rescue will require many rescuers, and quite possibly ropes (highline). Air evacuation by hoist capable aircraft should be considered.

Big Lava Bed Map

Area Road Map (pdf)

From theGifford Pinchot Web Site: This unusual lava field originated from a crater, now 500 feet deep, located in the northern center of the bed. Lodgepole pine, alder, and other pioneer plants struggle to survive amid towering rock piles, caves, and odd lava formations that fascinate hardy explorers and sightseers. No trails or roads cross the lava field, generally limiting exploration to the perimeter. If you choose to explore the interior, choose your route carefully. Compasses are not always reliable due to local magnetic influences in the vast expanse of rock.