Oregon Caves National Monument

Description

Discovered in 1874, this system of connecting caverns earned the nickname "The Marble Halls of Oregon" for its stunning calcite formations. Walkways were built into the cavern during the Depression, and now tours---offered from March till early November---take you among the stalactites, helictites, and so-called soda straw formations. Registration for the 90-minute treks through the underground marvels begins at 8:30 am in summer (arrive earlier to avoid crowds) and 9:30 am in the off-season at the Oregon Caves Chalet Visitor Center. You'll walk just over a half-mile, up and down over 500 steps and through narrow, low-ceilinged passages, all the while learning about geology, bats, the forest, and the area's human history. Summer weekends also see off-trail and candlelight tours. Children must be at least 42 inches tall and be able to pass a stair-step test to enter the cave. Sturdy shoes and layered clothing are musts owing to the uneven and slippery surfaces and the dampness and year-round temperatures that hover around 44 degrees Fahrenheit. The road up to the site twists and turns, so it’s best to leave any trailers at the visitors center in Cave Junction, 20 miles west on OR 46. Those with extra energy can hike up along the Big Tree Loop Trail. It takes two to three hours and sees an elevation gain of more than 1,000 feet. Along the way are fantastic views of the surrounding Siskiyou National Forest. In addition, the trail leads to the widest Douglas fir in the state of Oregon. Less adventurous hikers can take advantage of the 5 miles of trails that traverse old-growth forest surrounding the monument. Regardless of where you hike, you might see any one of the 80 species of birds, 35 kinds of mammals and over 110 types of plant life. Be on the lookout for the Oregon Caves forest snail, a creature that lives only in or near the monument and feasts upon the calcite-rich marble, growing a beautiful striped shell. Trails are open year-round, and, in winter cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are possible; call monument headquarters for weather conditions, though. It’s also good to call ahead to check on cave-tour wait times and to check on seasonal offerings.

Address

19000 Caves Hwy.
Cave Junction, OR 97523

Lat/Long

42.09746900, -123.40996700
Visit Website
(541) 592-2100

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