Oregon Caves National Monument: Cave Tour

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

We’d spent a few days with extended family on the California coast, just south of Oregon. After a lovely time spent exploring Redwoods National Park, we packed up the car, said goodbye to the cousins and headed North to Oregon Caves National Monument.

Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve is a protected area in the northern Siskiyou Mountains. The 4,554-acre park, including the marble cave, forests, hiking trails and a historic lodge is 20 miles east of Cave Junction.

That last 20 mile stretch after Cave Junction is a real nail-biter with hairpin turns, sheer drop-offs and little gps reception as it winds through the remote mountains to the park. Originally, we’d planned to stay at the Caves Chateau while visiting sites in Southern Oregon, but when I realized that was the only way in and out, I changed our base of operations to Grants Pass.

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I’d reserved our cave tour reservations online. We arrived at the visitor center ahead of schedule. When we checked in, the ranger moved us up to an earlier tour.

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We took the Discovery Cave Tour with Ranger Neil. He really made the tour with his corny jokes and fun cave facts. Even the teenagers were entertained.

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The tour lasted 90 minutes and was pretty strenuous. We were basically climbing around inside a mountain, ascending and descending, squeezing through narrow passageways and stooping to avoid concussing ourselves on low ceilings. In many places the stairs had no railings and the marble floor was slippery. It was a chilly 44 degrees Fahrenheit and we were glad we’d worn our jackets.

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After navigating the labyrinth for a while, the path opened up into a huge room with amazing formations, about 200 feet below the surface. Here, we climbed a steep metal staircase to view some awesome ‘drapery’ formations in the dome ceiling.

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Out of close to 4000 caves managed by the National Park Service, only Oregon Cave and two others are made of marble. The rest are formed in limestone.

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Once we were all back outside the cave, Ranger Neil took a group photo for us and then accompanied us back to the visitor center to help the girls complete their junior ranger badge.

Location: 19000 Caves Hwy, Cave Junction, OR 97523

Designation: National Monument

Date designation declared: 7/12/1909

Date of my visit: August 2016

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21 thoughts on “Oregon Caves National Monument: Cave Tour

    1. It’s a beautiful remote park! Be sure to get a malted in the old fashioned soda shoppe in the lodge. I have a post on the short trail we hiked up there dropping next week. But stay tuned for this Friday’s post..a goodie you will want to schedule into your Maine trip

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Thanks for introducing me to yet another park to visit, if I ever make it to Oregon again (I hope I do!). I’m so excited that your kids are doing the Junior Ranger program. There are so many great things to get involved in with the National Parks. What a fun trip! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Oregon Caves National Monument: Chateau & Nature Trail – National Parks USA

  3. Interesting post. I love caves, but cannot do all the climbing anymore and rapid elevation changes. We visited two on our recent trip. One was Grand Canyon Caverns, on Route 66, but because we could not handle the 71 stairs, slippery narrow passageways, and time frame, we opted for the short tour which was kind of boring in the end. Still, I try to take cave tours whenever I have the opportunity – the formations take on such surreal shapes and the low lighting makes the atmosphere eerie.

    Liked by 1 person

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